Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Worth the Hype

If you decide to view this festive and touching video, you will see a group of shelter volunteers who have seemingly gone over the top as they celebrate the adoption of a dog named Cooper. We won’t spoil it for you - we have watched it over and over again - but we would like to hear from you. What feelings do you experience while watching the video? What’s your gut reaction at the end, and is it worth the hype?

The video is real. It can also be viewed on the Nevada Humane Society’s Home Page. Adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue organization saves lives.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Love with Reckless Abandon – It’s Today that Matters

There are few things harder to bear than the realization that your best friend, your furry life companion, has aged faster than you have. One day you happen to notice a new maturity in your pet’s face – the eyes more thoughtful than you remembered, a trace of gray around the chin – or maybe it’s not that subtle. Perhaps your dog sleeps through breakfast and isn’t interested in walks anymore, or your vet just explained that your cat’s organs are failing. As this reality filters into your psyche – that the friend who loves you like no other and whom you have given your heart to without reservation won’t be with you forever – sadness overcomes over you.

The grief may last only a few seconds or it may alter your entire day and it can reach inside like a sharp-edged spoon to stir up past losses. In any instance, grief is powerful and mysterious, and it’s an emotion that deserves attention. So often in our busy lives we brush aside uncomfortable feelings and march on through our day and our “to do” list, but our spirits suffer when we do this. The more we can learn to live in the moment and appreciate the natural gifts of the grief expression, the more likely we are to invite love into our lives rather than turn away from it. After all, there are shelters filled with pets that need us.

So, what do you do when that realization hits? Take action! Say a prayer, write a poem, call a friend, or just cry. If you’re angry, throw rocks at a tree, scream out loud in your car or beat your pillow with a tennis racket. The simple act of doing something to address the pain instead of ignoring it is suggested by grief counselors in regard to any loss.

And for goodness sake, love your pet with reckless abandon before you have to say goodbye. It’s today that matters.

It’s a darn shame that each of our pets can’t be a total life companion, but it may just be divine that we can love and care for multiple pets during our lifetime.

Most cities have grief counseling for pet loss available through their local shelters or hospice centers. There are also numerous online resources for pet loss including Animal Hospice and Pet-Loss.Net.

Locally, the Santa Cruz SPCA, located at 2685 Chanticleer Avenue in Santa Cruz, offers a grief support group on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kodachrome Memories

My daddy would be in his 90’s if he were still alive. He just lived to be 65 though, passing away today, 31 years ago.

While I was 19 when he died, on a sentimental occasion such as today, it seems obvious that he gave me a lifetime’s supply of gifts.

Let’s start with the first gift that comes to mind - my love for animals. My dad (pictured in both photos above), whose name was Charles but he went by Ron, had a dog named Duke. Duke was a great dane crossed with a yellow lab - a big guy. I don’t actually remember him except from pictures, but clearly it was Duke who gave me my first dose of doggy kisses, and quite clearly, they made me happy! The pictures below were taken in 1961.

11-month-old me with Duke giving kisses:

Duke giving me a ride while daddy, smiling and smoking a pipe, shares the spotlight:

My dad was a teacher, a professor actually. He taught electronics at Monterey Peninsula College and he had a radio show called Career Corner that aired on KMBY during the 60’s. He made the best vanilla steamers and he told wonderful stories like “Charlie and the Green Griffin,” complete with illustrations. He wrote love notes to my mom and he worked hard to provide for us and build his dream house in the redwoods. He was an A’s fan and a hell of a poker player.

The list of gifts my father gave me continues to be revealed as life unfolds. Besides my passion for animals though, a good work ethic with an appropriate amount of silliness, love and devotion to family, fond memories and the courage to chase dreams are the ones that come to mind today.

I love you daddy and I am so very proud of, and grateful for, your legacy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thunder is 15

I love my Thunder.

Thunder, who was supposed to be a Chihuahua (long story).

Thunder, our little water buffalo.

Thunder, who is a daddy’s girl.

Thunder, Henry's older sister.

Thunder, strong as any bully breed.

Thunder is 15! Happy Birthday sweetheart.

I love my (daddy’s girl) Thunder.

If you like, you can see more pictures on Thunder's Dogster Page.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Starry Starry Day

What a day! Wow. It was a magical, happy time. Oh, I’m talking about a recent Rabbit Haven adoption show. The setting was Pet Pals and the stars came in all ages, sizes, colors and personalities. I was just part of the staff, catering to the needs of the soft and fuzzy stars, and welcoming their potential new families. It’s nice to be needed :)

There were eight adoptions in one day on this particular Saturday, and each seemed to be an exceptional match. Even my two foster bunnies found their furever homes. Hannah Solo bonded with a rabbit named Oreo, and went off with her new family. A sweet couple fell in love with little Ryan and took him home to share life in the mountains with them. The other six bunnies adopted that day were Fozzie Bear, Moomba, FaFa, Antonio Bunderos, Zizu Bop and Ki. Everyone at the haven wishes each bun a long, happy, adventurous (but not too adventurous) love-filled life!

Following the day’s amazement, it seems I was followed home by two new foster bunnies. One is Kumba, a red Lionhead who is quite athletic – in one leap he cleared a 30” barrier with room to spare before hiding behind a box in the hall for a several hours. Who could blame him? He was on a euthanasia list in another county the day before. Lucky is he who is named Kumba. As it turns out, Kumba is perfect with his litter box and exceptionally sweet. He will make someone a fine pet.

A Lionhead rabbit is quite spectacular in looks and personality – meet Mufassa (who I like to call Mr. Hollywood):

The other bunny that followed me home that day was a little black-and-white Dutch we named Benny. His classic Dutch looks earned him the nod of a couple in San Jose who have since come over and met him - the bond was instant and obvious. I knew Benny had found his home.

Here's a Dutch rabbit with a hankering for a carrot:

So, has my excitement about bunnies got you interested yet? Foster families are always in need. If you're thinking about it but not sure, just keep an open mind!

The House Rabbit Society is an excellent resource for all things rabbit.

The Rabbit Haven’s Adoption Showcase features locally-rescued rabbits in need of homes and/or foster care.

Perhaps you’d like some fun reading while learning more about the rabbit personality. If so, try one of my favorite bunny blogs, appropriately named Disapproving Rabbits.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Walk for Farm Animals

This past Saturday, October 16, I hopped in a car with two amazing women and we zipped up to Berkeley, California, a little more than an hour’s drive. After having a scrumptious brunch at Gather on Oxford Street – and luring another equally-amazing woman to join us for the day – we moseyed down to our planned venue. Registration was a breeze and included a spiffy tee; the weather was sunny but a bit on the cool side (perfect for walking) and a solid 200 compassion-minded people, some with their dogs, turned out.

Amy carried a sign in one hand and her dog, Sir Mortimer (don’t you dare say it without the proper British accent) in the other. Isabelle, while sporting a humorous bash on KFC tee, walked (and sometimes carried) Amy’s other dog, Robin. Rebecca and I carried a large rectangular Farm Sanctuary banner that, crookedly at times, reminded readers “a compassionate world begins with you.”

Up and down Berkeley city blocks we walked, passing bookstores and restaurants and street musicians. Sometimes on cue we joined in the chant: “What do we want? Compassion! When do we want it? Now!” We got waves and honks, occasional questions and random opposition – all part of a day’s work in the world of change. It’s easy to respond with a smile and share information in a city like Berkeley, not all that different than Santa Cruz in its liberal acceptance. My hat is off to those brave walkers in areas not as open-minded.

Farm Sanctuary works to end cruelty to farm animals and promotes compassionate living through rescue, education and advocacy. The annual Walk for Farm Animals raises awareness about the treatment of farm animals and raises vital funds to support Farm Sanctuary’s life-saving mission.

The walk lasted about an hour, ending at the park where we started from. Having had so much fun and plum walnut French toast at brunch beforehand, we had missed the featured speakers and only had a chance to glance at the silent auction items, but we didn’t miss the reason we were there – to be a voice for farm animals.

For more information about Farm Sanctuary and their rescue, education and advocacy programs in California or New York, please visit the Farm Sanctuary website, become a fan on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Even though the Berkeley Walk for Farm Animals is over, tax-deductible contributions may still be made to the cause via my fundraising page or directly to Farm Sanctuary.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ellen Ellen Ellen - LOVE HER!

If you knew all the things I’ve done to try and attract Ellen DeGeneres’s attention, you might think I was a crazy person. However, I’m pretty sure it’s finally paying off. A little over a week ago @TheEllenShow replied to one of my tweets on Twitter!

Ellen's tweet said “Thanks, Dal!”

Well, this was so rad that I had to call my sister at nearly midnight, in Oregon, to see if it was real. I have been known to imagine things. In a matter of minutes tweeters were following me as if I was a star, and I was sure Twitter was on the fritz. But, I traced the sudden activity back to Ellen’s fabulous tweet – it was being re-tweeted by celebrity followers and other Ellen fans around the globe. THE GLOBE people!

Ellen – you rocked my Twitter universe on September 28!

A few of my past efforts to try and gain Ellen’s attention have included:

• Sending her black-and-white cat videos (she loves them you know)

• Writing her a formal letter pitching The Honorable Dalmatian

• Tweeting her (nevermind how many times), once sharing that I too think Dennis Quaid acting out her verbal commands is all that and a latte too

• Entering her Winter Win Storm contest at least 20 times – each time entering new and zanier information about myself, once even including this photo...

Well, as you can see, I am not at all crazy!

If you like laughing and dancing and animals, and especially if you have any good "bad hair" photos - you need to be watching The Ellen Show.

If that's not your thing, well, you might still like the infamous Dennis Quaid at Starbucks video.

And just for fun, here's Ellen's American Express Commercial. Don't try this at home.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

RYAN: Foster Bunny Follies

Just a wild and wacky week ago, a situation occurred that culminated with our welcoming a foster bunny into our home. We have a couple of rescue bunnies from The Rabbit Haven already so how much could life possibly change with one more?

Ryan’s gray and white fuzzy fur is short and ultra soft. His eyes, which now exude a semi-relaxed sweetness, were seriously bulging out of his little head when we first brought him in.

Is Ryan adorable? Of course he is! Does he have a flip side? You bet!

Never having shared company with a three-and-a-half-month-old male bunny, were we ever surprised at the increase in activity coming from our bunny room! Ha! Ryan basically has one thing on his mind and it is not his food. He’s a juvenile already in bunny years. And while he has plenty of play time, gets to try new veggies everyday and nibbles at all the alfalfa he can eat, the little dude has escaped from his pen twice in a week’s time!

Ryan, who weighs about two pounds, has an X-pen that is 24 inches in height and has eight secure metal sides with slits that he cannot fit through. Nevertheless, he managed to jump out once, and the second escape came when he pulled the sides of the pen into the middle, causing the sheet we had carefully secured over it to collapse – he basically climbed out using the sheet to construct a cloth mountain!

Because of his hormones, Ryan is, shall we say, innocently reckless - he likes to “mark” his freshly-washed sheets with zigzag urine trails that provide a strangely-pungent fragrance. Oh, and our resident bunnies find him very entertaining! The first night Ryan was here, they were actually fighting over who could get closest to him. And just today Ryan got his head stuck in the hard-plastic netting we use in their exercise area. Never a dull moment!

Well, the hormonal hi-jinks all come to an end tomorrow morning when Ryan takes a field trip to the “Altering Agency” aka bunny AA. Life is bound to smell a little better, but I think we’ll actually miss the antics. Soon, Ryan will be available to adopt.

If you have never experienced the zany joy of a silly bunny, we highly suggest this short example:

If you’d like to see rabbits available for adoption in Santa Cruz County, please view The Rabbit Haven’s Adoption Showcase.

This instructional video shows Auntie Heather of The Rabbit Haven assembling an X-Pen:

You can follow The Rabbit Haven on Twitter @therabbithaven for daily tweets about happenings around the haven and upcoming adoption shows.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

An Exciting August for The Honorable Dalmatian!

On August 21, 2010:

The Honorable Dalmatian participated in its first community event - Dog Days of Summer! The event, hosted by the Santa Cruz SPCA, was held at a park off Ocean Street to honor the anniversary of one of the largest animal rescues in the United States following Hurricane Katrina. Operation Just Paws, organized by Lisa Carter of our local SPCA and funded by Doris Day, rescued over 100 cats and dogs from flooded Louisiana in 2005.

A recap and slideshow of the event can be viewed on the SPCA’s blog.

The Honorable Dalmatian’s event booth was browsed by many spectators, most with dogs in tow, who thoroughly enjoyed the dog-themed art, jewelry and clothing. The owner was on hand to meet and greet, and talk about the selection of items the store carries. She shared that the artists whose work she features, including the wall art, metal-crafted jewelry and dog-themed apparel, are also big animal lovers and it clearly shines through in their work. Many of them also donate a percentage of their sales to animal rescue, even on wholesale orders, making some store items “double winners” when purchased. The Honorable Dalmatian donates 5% of its sales to five local rescue groups.

In addition to debuting their awesome concept and product line to the public, The Honorable Dalmatian’s owner had the pleasure of meeting lots of new people - people whom she has begun to call her tribe. These are fellow animal lovers in the community who celebrate that fact any chance they get.

The Honorable Dalmatian is looking forward to the next event and hopes to see you there!

On August 25, 2010:

Drum Roll…………………The Honorable Dalmatian opened their online store for business! The much awaited grand opening – complete with a free-shipping special on coffee orders of three bags or more – is still going on! It’s been just over a week since opening day and if you haven’t had your coffee fix yet, you better get with it!

New inventory is being added to the store several times a week. Look for vintage items, more clothing and art, and fun accessories in the days to come! The store is fresh, clean and colorful, but best of all is the atmosphere of animal love permeating every page!

Social media is buzzing – there’s been tweeting and re-tweeting, and a frenzy of Facebooking – all for the love of animals!

Follow The Honorable Dalmatian on Twitter
Become a fan of The Honorable Dalmatian on Facebook

In the future, The Honorable Dalmatian will pursue a brick and mortar storefront in Santa Cruz. Until then, we hope you’ll shop with us online starting today at www.thehonorabledalmatian.com.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Herman - In Rememberance

Herman. He was one fine-looking chocolate lab. Sporting his hunter green collar he would swagger about the dog park, sit on people’s feet and generally be cute as hell. What is there to say? He died too damn young.

Though I’m hardly more than a casual observer – our dogs were park pals and I consider his mom and dad friends – I know a few things for certain. Herman was loved, well cared for and his absence has left heartbreak in its wake.

On our first day at the dog park, back when Henry was a year old, we met Mark and Herman. I liked to call them the “H” dogs and Mark and I talked up a storm, in between marveling at the silliness of our dog's behavior. Our first day at the dog park was also Mark and Herman's first day, and how nice it was to share that experience with them. The “H” dogs were instant friends – wrestling, running, chasing, tugging – they instinctively knew how to play with one another.

Over the next couple of years we spent many afternoons at the dog park. Enter Moki, Crash and a few others – and their moms and dads (Moki is the other dog in photos on this page). Dog days were fun. Life was good.

Then one day, not all that many weeks ago, Herman was diagnosed with cancer. It was an aggressive type without many options for treatment. Despite a strong albeit brief comeback, Herman died August 21. He was not even five years old.

This writing is intended to honor the missing "H" dog. My heart goes out to his mom and dad. I hope to always remember Herman’s lovely gentle spirit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tiger the Trickster

Our cat sitter, Craig, has never met Tiger. He knows what kind of food she eats, where to feed her and he knows what she is supposed to look like, but they have yet to meet. The last time my husband and I (and our dogs) went on vacation we got a call from Craig. He was concerned because several days had passed and there was no sign of Tiger. He couldn’t even be sure she was eating because we have two other cats and none tend to eat much while we're gone (it just dawned on me that this could be because the dogs aren’t circling their food like sharks when they aren't there). At our direction, Craig looked in all of Tiger’s known hiding places as we waited on the phone, but she wasn’t in a single one of them. While this unnerved me a bit, this was Tiger we were talking about…

Tiger is an Abyssinian. She’s shy yet flirtatious, always slinking along the walls and the edges of our furniture. She rarely requests affection, preferring instead to be the voyeur. I suspect she watched Craig while he looked for her, mocking him with sly enthusiasm. Tiger is brave and in excellent physical shape for her age (she's 11). She is the only one of our cats that dares walk the catwalk – that’s what we named the ledge high above our A-framed living room. She saunters across it without a care in the world.

When we came home from our vacation, I rushed to unlock the door and check on Tiger, even though I was sure she was fine. She looked up at me from the edge of the dining room door frame as if to say “Oh, hey. What’s up?”

Cats - always playing tricks on their humans!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Together for Animals

Have you ever seen a poster of a missing pet and felt sad, maybe wished you could do something to help? Or read a news article about a tragedy involving animals and got mad? Have you ever heard the statistics of homeless pets euthanized each year and felt an instant pit in middle of your stomach?

What's your calling?

I can answer yes to all of the above questions, and then some, and I bet you can too. We're not alone - there are individuals and organizations doing something about each of them (and then some). Individuals? Yes! One person can make a difference - you can make a difference.

Meet Kelly, the official mascot of Together for Animals:

On June 30, 2010, I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office looking at my mobile Facebook newsfeed. I was reading yet another post about a perfectly-adoptable dog in an overcrowded shelter that was about to become a statistic. The dog was Kelly. Something came over me, divinely motivated I'm certain, and I sent a message to the girl who posted Kelly's picture and story. I suggested that we start a Facebook page just for these "death row" animals that need immediate and mass attention. That night I went home and created Together for Animals. In just over two weeks, more than 600 people have joined the page, some of whom are sharing our posts, and guess what? Animals are being SAVED!

Unfortunately, Kelly didn't make it out. I can't help wondering...what if we had created the page one day earlier?

Follow your heart - Be the Change - for Animals!

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Mom is in My Everything

It’s been six months since my mom died and I miss her every day. I’ve noticed lately though, she is in (my) everything.

For instance, there is a nest of baby blue jays in the night-blooming jasmine that grows along the side of our house. Every day, several times a day, mama blue jay forages the ground and tree foliage on our property for food, bringing it back to the verbally-boisterous young mouths of her babies. The first baby was born Monday, June 14, with several more born over the next day or two. Now we hear at least six babies in the nest at feeding time. The nest itself is quite intricate, though we can’t actually see the one mama blue jay finally settled on. She had constructed two others lower in the jasmine, only to abandon them in favor of a hidden spot where a thick bunch of the flowering plant reaches under the eaves. I suppose a mother just knows when preparing for a family what their needs will be and how to keep her babies safe.

And this week, I was preparing for a photo shoot with my Dalmatian for the website homepage; The Honorable Dalmatian is putting finishing touches on the site before unveiling it to the public (please stay tuned)! I had to decide what to wear that would compliment Henry but not take away from the star that he is. I knew instantly when I saw the lilac-colored sleeve peeking out between other sleeves in the closet – it was one of the last blouses I bought for my mom, and she only wore it once. I remember the day she did; she asked me “Are you sure it’s not too young a look for me?” “No way Mom!” I said. “You look beautiful!” Wearing her clothes, I confess, makes me feel good – a sort of “adult dress up” I guess you’d call it. My mom will now share the homepage spotlight with Henry and me.

Yet another example, and perhaps the most personal, is the coffee cup I drink out of most every day. It belonged to her. It’s a big, cornflower-blue ceramic cup with the name “Maryland” in raised capital letters along the side. My mom was born and raised in Maryland. She never spent the time she wished she could have with her family back at home, though she talked about them often and they were very dear to her heart.

As I sip my coffee in it now – under a canopy of redwood trees and Henry by my side - I know the importance of family, the depth of my mother’s love and that she will forever be in my everything.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Power of Lucky

Lucky was the name I gave to a yellow shepherd-collie mix with the honest-to-goodness face of a deer that my friend Debbie and I rescued from a freeway onramp. This was back in 1994 when the two of us, fresh out of college, went to work in San Jose – or as we Santa Cruzan’s often refer to it – over the hill. I remember that day like it was yesterday: we had just finished lunch at Mr. Chau’s Chinese Fast Food and were heading back to the office when we spotted her. Debbie had driven that day so we were in her little white Fiat with the top down, and before you could say boo she had brought that car to a dead stop in the middle of the intersection of First and Burton. It seemed like time suddenly came to a standstill. There were no sounds of lunch-hour traffic, no voices – just a sweet and scared, angel of a dog standing there – and I got out and scooped her up.

She was wearing a collar with the name Lovey and a phone number. Upon calling the number from the payphone at a gas station on the corner, a boy’s voice answered (in what seemed like cruel sarcasm to me at the time), “We don’t have a dog.” So Debbie and I proceeded to put fliers up around the intersection, called the local humane society, and placed a classified ad in the Mercury News. When our attempts to find Lucky’s owner failed, I kept her. We had brought her home to Santa Cruz after work the day we found her, her honey-colored ears flapping in the wind over Highway 17 in Debbie’s sporty-little convertible. I’m quite sure we captured the envy of most other commuters that day, if not the rewards of attention – two girls in a convertible with smiles plastered on their faces, and between them, the luckiest dog on the planet!

Lucky was the first dog I’d had since being a teenager. I renamed her Lucky and we made stories up about who might have named her Lovey, and joked about Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island calling out for Mrs. Howell, “Lovey… oh, Lovey.” I still giggle today thinking of calling her that. I secretly wonder, however, if Lucky belonged to a sweet-little-old lady (or man) who died or was in a car crash, accidently leaving “Lovey” to fend for herself. Lucky had been well trained by someone – she had, hands down, the best manners of any dog I had known prior or have known since.

Not long ago I wrote about how people who rescue animals are they themselves rescued. Lucky was the first dog to do that for me. I’d had two dogs before. One was Shoni - I’d brought her home from the Santa Cruz Spring Fair when I was 13 years old. The other was Sinbad and I was 17 when an old boyfriend and I got him, though I honestly don’t remember the circumstances. Shoni and Sinbad were both brown, black and tan lab-shepherd mixes. Shoni, unfortunately, spent most of her life tethered outside to a dog house, her care provided for by my parents. Sinbad, sadly, died on Christmas morning 1978 of Distemper – he wasn’t even a year old. Lucky, bless her angelic heart (and the magic of grace), taught me through our unconditional love for each other that I could eventually forgive myself for not loving Shoni and Sinbad the way they deserved. Through caring for Lucky properly, I was able to let go of not knowing better how to care for animals when I was younger. It wasn’t easy though.

I recall a time I was walking Lucky at the old Scotts Valley Airport in the days before there was a dog park and sobbing (loudly) for Sinbad and Shoni – agonizing over their cheated lives, steeped in guilt over any and all pain either dog experienced. It was Lucky who assured me, in that moment and day by day as the years ticked by, that I am a good person, a loving dog mother and deserving of a dog’s love.

Lucky lived to the ripe old age of 17, assuming she was four years old when we rescued her like the vet estimated. The years I had with Lucky helped mold me into the animal rescue advocate I am today, a testament to the power of Lucky.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Precious Moments

The long-awaited spring sunshine lights my path and warms my skin as I merrily gather dandelions in the yard. My basket is almost full now. As I pick each one, dust off the debris and toss it in, I imagine and wonder.

Is this sense of satisfaction, of wholeness, felt by the organic farmer who selects his crops for market each week? Could it be the way a medicine woman feels gathering flowers and herbs to heal the sick? Is this the pride of a mother as she harvests fresh vegetables before a family dinner in the country?

I like the way it feels. The dandelions are a mainstay for my rabbits and they grow so plentifully here – usually thought of as weeds. I can remember my dad teaching me how to weed. "Push deep" he would say as I flimsily held the trowel in my hand as a child, "you have to get under the roots." I wonder what he would say now, as I leave the roots behind hoping for more "weeds." It's not just the bunnies who enjoy the dandelions!

Yes, my life and mind have expanded once more from choosing to adopt again, to allow two more beings into my heart. I do love them, you know, and will care for them as children for the remainder of their years.

As I rest to write this down I feel a surge of emotion – a sense of awe at the miracle of life. The lavender blooms crisp and fragrant about me, its aroma promising the consistent welcome of new days. I believe I’ll go back to picking now, changed ever so slightly by these precious moments.

Friday, May 28, 2010

This is an open thank you letter. It’s for the multitude of animal rescue and advocacy groups, shelters, sanctuaries and individuals including YOU. It’s in response to the tireless outpouring of love and concern for animals that you so generously devote to effect change. It’s for loving your pet every day.

Some of you give your time, some write letters and make phone calls, some of you adopt, transport, tweet, pray. Some of you give your money, your sweat and we all shed tears from time to time. Whatever it is that you do, it’s making a difference, and your passion is felt, respected and appreciated. You are loved unconditionally, whether you know it or not.

There are times when one wonders if the world is deaf, dumb and blind. Of course, we learn with age, those thoughts enter when our perception needs adjustment - we’ve given too much for too long and not stepped back to breathe, to take notice of the results of putting one foot in front of the other.

Yes, life is challenging. We have disasters and horrors, and death. There is hope, however. It’s always there doing its balancing act. It’s in the background of every moment. It's in the eyes of your pet. It’s in sunshine and song. It's danced by Ellen. It’s in the passing of Proposition 2. It’s wherever you look for it, but you must look up and forward. Gratitude abounds, I assure you.

So, on behalf of every animal from either side of the rainbow bridge, I say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you. Rejoice in your hard work! Dance – Play – Love. And don’t ever give up.