Friday, May 28, 2010

Elephant Fluff

On this Friday before Memorial Day weekend, I leave you with a happy Ele video. I've been meaning to post this before but, well, you know.

This video was taken in March. It shows Shirley and Tarra being very silly. This is a wonderful video since at 64 years old, Shirley is the oldest elephant at the Elephant Sanctuary and the matriarch of the herd and while she is pretty mellow and sweet, silly just isn't in her repertoire. Shirley has had such a tragic life in the circus. You will notice that one of her back legs is misshapen from when a bull elephant attacked her at a circus event and broke her leg, but she was never taken for treatment. You can see part of one of her ears missing from a fire when she was on a boat that had caught on fire while being brought to a circus. More recently, she has lost two of her dear ele friends in the last three years and the Sanctuary has been finding her many times off in the woods alone.

Tarra on the other hand is the gadfly of the herd. Wanting to makes friends with everyone and always wandering around with her dog, Bella. It has been amazing watching her spend more and more time with Shirley. Caregivers at the Sanctuary insist that they can tell that Tarra senses that Shirley needs extra care and some silliness now and then. Watching Shirley respond in kind is truly heartwarming. Keep an eye out at around 1.53 in the video as Shirley strategically positions her bad leg to give Tarra a little kick! Oh, also make sure your sound is on.

Enjoy and have a restful and thoughtful Memorial Day weekend.

(Dang, the right side of the video is cut off. If anyone knows how to fix, let me know--thanks).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Something to Plan For

The Board meetings have come and gone. Everything went off without a hitch. A co-worker mentioned to me that "it finally dawned on me that if ANY aspect of the board meeting went wrong, no matter how small, it would be on your back". Yes, I told her, now you know why I'm usually in an extreme state of stress right before and during the meetings.

Now, I am counting down the days to when my boss leaves. His last day in the office is the middle of June. While I'm not in fear of losing my job, the exact outline of what I'll be doing is still up on the air. There just hasn't been any time to discuss it. I have things written out about what I currently do and what I'd like to continue to do, along with a title change. I just need to get on the incoming Executive Director's calendar.

What keeps me going is my long term goal of working for my local animal shelter. While I can't think of looking for work there now, once my house is paid for I'll be able to take a job there at a lot less pay.

The shelter had a little reception and tour for the major donors last night. Now, I do donate, but am nowhere near a major donor. My neighbor is though and invited me along. I can't tell you how much I feel at home every time I walk through their doors. The Executive Director was once the chief veterinarian at a well known animal hospital in DC. He then became the Medical Director of the shelter's medical center. Now he is the Executive Director and a nicer man you will not meet.

I used to volunteer at the shelter until my own population of cats grew to the point (13) where I felt I was shortchanging them attention on evenings when I would go to the shelter. So, my plan is that in about five years, my herd (now at 8) should have thinned out even more and I can start volunteering again. Then, after I work my way into their hearts, and after my house is paid up, I hopefully can transition to employment there.

Would you like to see a few sights from last night? Sure you would...

This is Riley. Police were called to a domestic situation a little over two months ago. When they arrived they found three rottweiller puppies that had clearly been abused. All three puppies had collars that were so tight they were imbedded into their skin and had to be surgically removed. Riley also had a rubber band tightly wound around her front leg that had obviously been there for weeks. It had completely stopped the blood flow to the leg and unfortunately, they had to amputate it.

As soon as Riley saw this little one, she immediately hopped over to her. The surgery was two months ago. A vet tech took Riley home to foster and has now adopted her. The two other puppies were adopted also. The couple who had the puppies are being prosecuted for animal abuse.

We then took a tour of the kennel area (or as they like to call them, doggy condos). Many of the dogs look like these two. They take in a high percentage of dogs from high kill shelters in West Virginia and they all seem to be hound mixes.

This white shepherd came all the way from Kuwait. Did you know that the country of Kuwait has only ONE animal shelter? Well, that one burned down and while they found homes for all of the cats and some of the dogs, there were still 20 dogs that were left out in the hot sun in cages. The Rescue League took them all.

We then moved on to the Cat House. This is were I usually spent most of my volunteer time. There are usually a number of cats roaming around, playing or sitting in volunteer laps getting brushed. They even have a separate room for playing for cats who might be contagious with respiratory infections. Each cat condo has its own air filtration system. It has cut the spread of infections by 90%.

I, of course, was drawn to this black beauty. There must have been around 20 people talking and laughing and he was the most laid back cat, just taking it all in. As laid back as he was, he was no match for this one...

You could barely wake him up!

The evening ended with a tour of the medical center. The shelter has six veterinarians on staff. The Executive Director (pictured above) told us he barely gets to do any surgery any more but tries to give a hand a couple times a month. (A humbling experience was looking through the offices. The Executive Director's office is smaller than mine. Though he has the BIG bonus of being able to bring his two dogs to work with him.) The medical shelter is also a life line for over 6,000 low income residents and their animals who live in the District. A typical exam will cost $10.00 (if they can afford it), while surgeries costing into the thousands will never exceed $100.00 (again, only if they can afford it). Plus they host monthly free spay/neuter days.
Yes, something to plan for...