Before I was Dr. V the vet, I was Jessica V the vet student. And before that, I was Jessica M (see, I wasn’t married yet) the nerdy biology major with an emphasis in marine biology. Before realizing my constitution wasn’t nearly hardy enough to tolerate life out in the field, I was sure I was going to be a wonderful conservation biologist. Sadly, I shrink from the sun like a sparkly vampire so field work was not to be.
I tell you this so that you understand that despite dedicating my career (and most of this blog) to the very small portion of Animalia that dogs and cat comprise, I really do have an interest in the bigger picture and being mindful of all the creatures out there on the planet who rely on us not to trash the place. (Whoops on that, by the way.)
I was just at one of my favorite places on the planet today- Torrey Pines State Reserve, jogging along the beach admiring the long-billed curlews poking about in the sand in search of tasty treats. I love the beach, staring out over the horizon, inhaling the salt air, marveling at the mystery that lies just beneath the glassy surface.
It’s also a sad place, where I might have to dodge the occasional bit of garbage, smell some sort of disturbing runoff, or observe a sign proclaiming the sewage bacterial load has made the water unsafe for swimming.
I remember going to the tidepools in Santa Monica with my professor and mentor to take some water samples, and he related in horror the stories about people illegally harvesting mussels to eat- mussels that were filled with all manner of atrocities, having grown up in a toxic sludge of human waste.
We can do better, for us and for all the animals whose survival depends on it. We must do better.
In honor of both Blog Action Day 2010‘s Water Theme and Blog the Change Day- both of which are today, coincidentally- we at pawcurious have proclaimed this Be the Change for Water Animals Day. Why not?
Here’s 5 easy ways to celebrate and learn about the wonderful world of water:
1. Go to the extremely thorough EPA website and poke around their site for a few minutes. I guarantee you will learn something. (If you find a particularly fascinating tidbit, let me know in the comments!)
2. Check out this post from Greenopolis about 8 items that it’s particularly important to recycle (and perhaps the most original use I’ve ever seen mentioned for cat litter.)
3. Take the Plastics Pledge to help reduce the one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals who die from plastics in the ocean. Then go here and pick up some faboo bags so great you’ll wonder why you ever used plastic ones.
For those of you who are new to the blog, let me ‘splain a little pawcurious history:
Last year as I was floating about on the internet, I happened upon Romeo the Cat’s website and his staff’s posting urging us to do something in honor of Animal Shelter Appreciation week, my first foray into Be the Change.
I thought about it. I had one week to plan. I had no real well upon which to draw. All I know how to do is write (well, and spay and stuff but I figured that wasn’t a great fundraiser.) I remembered seeing a LiveJournal friend who participated in a 24 hour blogathon a couple years prior, in order to raise funds for a cause important to her.
Well, I figured, I can do that. And so I did. You can see all 24 posts here. No one else wanted to do it with me (not that I blame them), but I figured hey, maybe someone will come and hang out even though it’s the weekend and maybe I will raise a couple hundred bucks.
I even off-handedly offered to eat some dog food on camera for money. Then Anthony Holloway over at K9 cuisine took me up on it and sent me a sampler box (one vegetarian, one seafood stew, and one unagi and seaweed. Ha ha). And it all took off from there. Note: do not offer to eat anything gross on camera unless you mean it, because someone, somewhere, will pay you to do it. Should have remembered that lesson from How to Eat Fried Worms.
It was a party, I tell you. SO MUCH FUN. We had a kickoff chat, giveaways, sad stories, guest posts, a windup chat, and just an overall blast with all these people I had really got to bond with. We raised $2250, which was then matched by a generous benefactor who likes to remain anonymous (but I posted about him already)- making it $4500 raised, in one day.
Anyway- that is how it began, and it was so fun I’m doing it all again!
Mark your calendars: Saturday, November 13th, starting at 11 am PST!
I wrote to Mike Arms after the whole ‘terror at the podium‘ thing, to ask him for his ideas about how we bloggers could help in the bigger picture to improve animal welfare. He was gracious enough to invite me to Helen Woodward for a tour, and then he got me lunch AND a drink.
I mention that last part only because some of you were keeping tabs, so I had to make sure I let you all know he kept his word. I didn’t have to read the letter again, though he did show me a picture from a shelter in Louisiana that I can only describe as shocking- a reminder why we continue to get up every day and work for change.
I’m not quite sure how to explain Helen Woodward to someone who hasn’t been, because I haven’t seen anything like it- even when I went once in the early 2000′s when it was still in a metamorphosis.
There are animals for adoption (average time at the center: 2 days). There is also therapeutic riding, a state of the art equine hospital, a small animal hospital, a huge boarding facility, a center that educates school kids, a Mommy and Me program, rabbits for therapy, a food pantry, an on-site trainer…I’m sure I’m missing something, but it really is incredible.
More than anything, it is a community destination that is constantly placing itself smack in the center of the community limelight in a positive way, and that is why people come to them when they are looking for a new pet.
Eric Goebelbecker, the great trainer over at Dog Spelled Forward, wrote a post on Wednesday about all the chatter he’s been seeing about the Mike Arms Blog Paws presentation, saying, to paraphrase: “I hope he said more than ‘just rename shelters to centers and all will be well.’ ”
A bunch of people (cough cough) responded, but he did go on in the post to make some really great points about what shelters need to do in order to be better and up their adoptions, showing how Mike and Eric are basically in agreement. It’s a good post and how I learned about the PetSmart Charities research into this very topic.
One quiet Thursday afternoon, a young man in fatigues came running into the lobby, a beagle cradled in his arms. She was not in good shape.
As it would turn out, Sandy had lymphoma. There was not much we could do, and the young man- a veteran of multiple tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan- made the difficult decision to euthanize her.
Sensing the need for solitude, the staff cleared out of the room, leaving me alone with him and with Sandy. It was only then that he started to show his emotion. “What am I going to do without you?” he said to her through his tears. “You are the only one I could talk to.”
He gave himself 10 minutes, squared his shoulders, and strode out of the room back to his duty. I never forgot that glimpse into his world and the depth of meaning pets bring into the lives of our military families.
It is because of men and women like him that I am such a fan and supporter of Pets for Patriots, an organization that seeks to help both our military members and adults in animal shelters by encouraging and facilitating the adoption of one by the other. This one is a no-brainer- everyone wins.
I’ll be talking about them in more depth in a later post, but for now I want to ask you all to take a moment to vote for Pets for Patriots in the Pepsi Refresh Project. It’s free to do and only takes a moment. *A commenter brought up a good point: the sound of the soda can being opened means you logged in, but you still need to click on “vote for this idea”. If that button is visible, you haven’t voted. You can vote once a day!
Pets for Patriots’ “Bring Loyalty Home” program will expand the number of people we serve and pets we save in the U.S.
We connect veterans, wounded soldiers and service members with animal shelters in their community to find a new pet friend. Eligible pets are a dog or cat two years or older, a large dog (40+ pounds), or a special needs dog or cat – those most in need of a loving home and at greatest risk of being killed. Veterans are eligible at any stage of their careers and from all armed forces.
Our charity offsets the veterans’ costs of pet food and supplies, and provides access to ongoing discounted veterinary care.
Currently we operate in seven states. In July we launched a program with the Army AW2 Wounded Warrior Program to help wounded soldiers adjust to civilian life through adult pet adoption. Over the next year we’d like to expand to other armed forces’ wounded care programs and strengthen outreach to national and regional veterans’ organizations.
This is such a great project and I really hope we can help them with this grant that would mean so much to many service members as well as dogs in shelters needing homes.