Recently while browsing on Amazon I came across an interesting book titled A Letter to My Dog: Notes to Our Best Friends. It’s essentially a collection of heartfelt letters that pet owners, including some celebrities, have written to their best canine buddy. The personal letters celebrate the human/canine relationship, speak of the deep love and devotion they have for their pet and reveal raw honest emotions as they discuss a beloved dog that’s gone to the Bridge.
Intrigued, I discovered a website of the same name where people can write their own letter to their dog and post it for others to read. The dog-focused book and website have become so popular with pet owners that a follow-up book is coming soon. Naturally, it’s titled A Letter to My Cat, and there will be a sister website as well.
I loved the concept, so I decided to write my own letter to my “heart cat” Annabelle and share it with you, my dear friends and readers of the CANIDAE RPO blog. It was a lot of fun writing this letter to my darling cat that I love so much. I encourage you to write your own letter to your dog or cat, and share it here if you so desire.
My Dearest Annabelle,
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly ten years since I first saw your tiny little self in that flea-ridden place, desperately in need of rescue. I swooped you up and out of there immediately. You weren’t more than a month old, and so I became your “mother” to give you the loving care you badly needed.
I intended to find you a family once you were well, and old enough. Looking back, it seems silly I didn’t realize at once that you’d already found your forever home. But I’m so grateful that I kept you, because you are simply the best, most loving friend anyone could ever have.
Black Dog Syndrome is a very real problem in animal shelters. It seems like the more common or plain looking a pet is, the less likely they will find a home. Trying to give a voice to those who have none isn’t always easy to do, and it can be frustrating when it seems like no one is listening. But it’s important to keep speaking out because one voice can make a difference, if it’s persistent and comes from the heart. A young girl in Kansas is proof that one person can create change; she is speaking up for black dogs and cats in shelters.
A dark colored shelter dog already has one strike against him. If he is large with even a hint of bully breed in his DNA, he automatically has three strikes against him. Many shelters try to help a dark colored pet get noticed by adding a colorful bandanna or collar around their neck, but many potential adopters simply look past them anyway. The ASPCA has found that a dog or cat with more than 65 percent of a black or dark coloring in his coat is less likely to be adopted.
Why people walk right by a dark colored dog or cat is a mystery, but there are some theories. Black cats are often associated with witches and black magic. Some people believe the darker color makes a pet unlucky. Black dogs appear more aggressive to some, and their roles in movies too often portray them as mean and associated with the bad guys. Potential adopters have used phrases like “they’re spooky looking,” “you can’t see their eyes,” or “they don’t look trustworthy.”
It’s possible a black pet is harder to see among lighter colored coat colors that have a tendency to catch someone’s eye. I know from experience with my black dogs and cats how difficult it is to get a good photo of their face, especially if the light isn’t very good. It’s difficult for shelters to capture a cute facial expression when you can’t get a good picture of their eyes.
Whenever I read adoption tales, I marvel at the many different and circuitous ways people find a certain pet that turns out to be a perfect match for them. Many times, they were looking for a completely different pet than the one they ended up with, and sometimes they weren’t looking for a pet at all. Yet everything fell effortlessly into place, and another fortunate pet found his forever home.
Some people might say “Oh, what a coincidence that was, and now we have the best pet ever!” I don’t believe in coincidences, though, so I am not at all surprised when something completely unexpected brings a family and their beloved pet together. I believe it was meant to be.
Haven’t we all experienced a time when we felt we just had to adopt a certain pet but didn’t really know why? In every case, these pets become such an integral part of our life that we can’t imagine being without them. But did we find our pet, or did they find us?
I ask this after reading a touching tale about a troubled shelter dog who behaved very badly, and as a result no one wanted to adopt him. That is, until his true and forever family finally walked through the door.
A couple had gone to their local shelter with their adult daughter to help her pick out a pet. She had lost a cherished pet a few months earlier, so they were waiting until it felt like the right time for her to adopt again. The man and his wife were not looking for a pet for themselves, but this one plucky little dog caught their eye, and they asked about him.
My good friend Kevin has been volunteering for his local animal shelter for many years. Kevin, aka meowmeowmans, writes about the homeless cats on his wonderful blog, Animal Shelter Volunteer Life. He tells of the lucky cats who find their forever homes, and he also features the many sweet souls still waiting to be adopted. I love to read the adoption stories, because I know just how much the lives of the animal and their new family will change for the better. I celebrate each of these adoptions, sometimes silently with a smile but very often with a “wahoo!” or a “yay!” In stark contrast, the stories of those not yet chosen make me melancholic. No animal should have to know abandonment and homelessness, yet far too many do.
Recently, Kevin posted about the kitties not yet chosen, and said he hoped they could find a home before Christmas. We know the reality is that most will not, and yet we can’t stop hoping that some will go from unlucky to lucky, if not before Christmas then at least sometime in the New Year. When faced with a reality that is less than ideal, hope is what keeps us going; it keeps us doing what we can do in the moment until a better time.
My version of a Christmas miracle would be loving homes for every homeless pet, nutritious food for every hungry pet, and love for every animal who is alone and lonely. I shudder to think what would’ve happened to my precious cats Rocky and Annabelle if I hadn’t been asked to water someone’s plants, only to discover two tiny kittens badly in need of rescue. If they had somehow managed to survive – which isn’t likely considering they were very ill and no one was caring for them – they wouldn’t have a better life than the one they have now, with me.
I recently came across a wonderful story online that intrigued me. I wanted to know more, so I did what any curious pet blogger would do – I searched until I found a phone number, and then I called it. I had a pleasant conversation with 24-year-old Raymond Behrens, who happily gave me an update on one of the best “feel-good” doggie tales ever.
When Raymond enlisted in the Navy at the age of 18, he was deeply saddened to leave his best friends Bullet and Trigger behind. Raymond had adopted the Beagle puppies two years earlier. He loved his dogs with all of his heart, but because none of his family members or friends could care for them while he was in the Navy, Raymond reluctantly gave them up. As you might guess, this scenario is all too common, and is what led to the creation of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet (GASP). This wonderful nonprofit helps find foster families for pets of deployed military members; unfortunately, Raymond didn’t have that option in 2004.
Raymond thought about his best friends often over the next six years, while serving as a Navy Seabee in Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Like any devoted pet parent would, he felt guilty for giving up his dogs; he wondered how they were doing, and hoped they were happy and healthy. Although he never forgot about Bullet and Trigger, he didn’t expect to see them again or have them be a part of his family. Yet six long years later, that is exactly what happened!
Nearly everyone has a few grandiose dreams, those “if I won the lottery I would…” type of musings. I don’t even play the lottery, but I still fantasize about how I would spend my fortune if I were to strike it rich someday. (That’s normal, right?). One of the things I envision, and have for many years, is buying some land and starting a cat sanctuary. And if I did, I would model it after what I consider to be one of the best, the Cat House on the Kings.
This safe haven for felines is California’s largest no-cage, no-kill lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center. The Cat House on the Kings is located along the Kings River in Parlier, California, which is just southeast of Fresno. The sanctuary was founded 18 years ago by Lynea Lattanzio, and today is “home” to more than 700 cats and kittens (as well as a few dogs). Yes, you read that right – 700!!
I became aware of the Cat House on the Kings several years ago after watching a YouTube video about this amazing sanctuary and the extraordinary woman who founded it. I don’t really know Lynea Lattanzio, but after learning about the Cat House on the Kings, I imagine she’s a lot like me – crazy about cats, an animal lover to her core, and someone who gets deep gratification from helping felines in need. On the video Lynea says, “When I was a child all I ever wanted was a kitten, and my Mom wouldn’t let me have one. But she’s sorry now.”
After her divorce in the early 80s, Lynea retired to the peaceful Kings River area to renew her spirit. On a quest to locate Manx kittens for her father, Lynea visited a local animal shelter, and ended up taking 15 abandoned kittens (none of them Manx!) to her property. Lynea sold her Mercedes and her diamond ring to help finance improvements to the property, and by the end of the year, she had rescued and placed 96 homeless cats. Lynea had found her true calling, and she has dedicated her life to helping cats ever since.
The sanctuary’s mission is “to place rescued cats and kittens into loving, permanent homes; to provide a safe, happy and healthy home for unwanted cats and kittens in a unique, no-cage facility; to prevent pet overpopulation through spaying and neutering; and to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.” The Cat House receives no government or public funding, and relies entirely on donations from the public to fulfill its mission.
All of the animals who live at the sanctuary are available for adoption. None are euthanized; they live out their lives until they either find a loving home or die of old age, however long that may be. The Cat House adopts out approximately 500 cats every year. Since its inception 18 years ago, The Cat House on the Kings has saved over 18,000 cats and 5,000 dogs!
From the video and pictures on their website, it’s quite clear that the Cat House on the Kings is a great place to be if you are a kitty without a forever home. The entire 12 acre property is secured by cat-proof fencing and buried chicken wire that prevents the cats and dogs from digging out, and predators from digging in. Cats have the run of the property, where they can climb trees, run and play, and take long naps with the California sunshine warming their fur. The cats are encouraged to make themselves right at home in the sanctuary’s main building too, which is a 4,200 square-foot house. Besides the house, there are numerous other feeding and bedding facilities for cats with special needs, including a Kitten Quarantine, Senior Center, Short-Term Boarding and FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) Ward.
When I perused their website, I saw something in their FAQ section that really made me laugh. Question: Where do all the cats sleep? Answer: Anywhere they want! Apparently this is no exaggeration, as pictures show cats lounging on kitchen counters, in front of a roaring fire, and on numerous cat trees in every room. The Cat House on the Kings is, without a doubt, a kitty paradise. It warms my heart to know such a place exists for those less fortunate felines without homes. I still hope to see my own “cat sanctuary dreams” come true, but if they don’t, there is always the Cat House on the Kings.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.