Monday, March 29, 2010

Albus & Hagrid

I had just finished shopping at Pet Pals and was loading the dog food and kitty litter into my car, and realized that I could use some empty boxes for a project. As I went back into Pet Pals to inquire about boxes, I noticed The Rabbit Haven van. Hmmm. A chance to meet Auntie Heather I thought. Heather Bechtel is the founder of The Rabbit Haven, a local non-profit rabbit rescue, adoption and education program, and she is affectionately known as Auntie Heather.

I wandered around Pet Pals until I spotted the adoption fair happening at the street side of the store. I hadn’t even seen it going on when I was shopping! As I watched people of all ages milling about – kids and their parents learning about rabbit care, two women with their purses on the floor and rabbits in their hands, a couple with their pet rabbits in carriers waiting for their grooming appointment – I suddenly burst into tears. The last thing I expected was to have an emotional outburst in Pet pals on a Saturday afternoon. I suppose there are many reasons for it, not the least of which is my mom’s recent passing. Or what about sweet Karyn who was crazy about bunnies and a volunteer at The Rabbit Haven, and passed away last fall?

After composing myself, I again began to look around. Instead of looking for Auntie Heather, I was focused on the bunnies. There must have been 20 or more, many in pairs: black ones, speckled ones, a white one with a row of black spots on its back, a fuzzy light brown one that looked like a tiny lion, and so on. I read a sign that said that rabbits tend to thrive when adopted in pairs and that some get depressed or withdrawn without a playmate.

I started up a conversation with Kimberlee, a volunteer who is also a rabbit “auntie.” She introduced me to Albus and Hagrid, two male bunnies from the infamous Moreland Woods Rescue in San Jose. Albus was pure white with pink eyes, an albino she said, and Hagrid was black with white markings. I asked if I could hold Hagrid. Kimberlee showed me how to pick Hagrid up and I did, turning him over gently in my arms like a baby as he peered up at me. I could tell that he wasn’t too sure, but he soon surrendered into a relaxing state while I rocked him back and forth. I must have stood there and rocked Hagrid for five solid minutes.

Albus and Hagrid are thought to be brothers, and they’ve been together since (and probably protected one another before) their rescue. I ask myself and sometimes God why there is cruelty in the world but I never get the answer. I just know that we, humans, are the answer to this problem. We have to take responsibility as a society for the actions of our fellows, care for the furry victims, and educate the masses. It might not seem fair, but no one ever said life was. I know for myself, I can’t live with a conscience that ignores the problem.

I didn’t leave Pet Pals on Saturday with Albus and Hagrid but I went to bed that night thinking about holding Hagrid in my arms. I didn’t introduce myself to Auntie Heather either, at least not from a business standpoint. I did send her an email though, and I made an appointment for another visit with Albus and Hagrid in April. And believe it or not, I actually remembered the boxes for my project.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Pet Cemetery - Part 2

Last month I wrote about the Pine Knoll Pet Cemetery. In a melancholy way and for especially sentimental reasons, I have taken an active interest in it. A little bit of research discovered that the cemetery was founded in 1938 by Charles Edward Graves who also founded the original Santa Cruz SPCA the same year. He was one of the first veterinary surgeons in the area and he must have really loved animals. One article I found indicated that Dr. Graves, who was born in 1882 and died in 1965, hand-carved at least some of the cemetery’s grave markers.

Lisa Carter, the current (and fabulous) director of the SPCA, has given her blessing to spruce up the acre-and-a-half piece of overgrown property; so my friend Kallee and I went over to survey the work ahead. Kallee is also a bigtime pet lover with several animals of her own including these two cuties:

The oldest graves we found date back to the 1940’s, but there are many unmarked graves. It is believed that at least 350 graves exist at this charming spot, most belonging to dogs and cats, but there are reportedly also parrots and monkeys buried here.

Dukie Boy (1946-1960), Sheba (1966-1977), Rebel (1968-1986) and Tice (1971-1975) are but a few of the residents at Pine Knoll.

Kallee and I figure that trimming a few trees, pulling weeds, raking leaves and cleaning up some of the present grave markers is what’s in store. However, I have since put on my investigator hat and learned that cleaning up the cemetery property might involve a permit. As it turns out, the Mount Herman June Beetle and the Ben Lomond Spineflower, both endangered species, were found on site during a 2002 biotic survey. Paying hands-on attention to the grounds could be the subject of debate if not followed by possible legal ramifications.

Having uncovered this latest information, it seems that a real investigation is needed now and I’m up for it. I see no reason, as long as the property remains a ghost cemetery – unprotected from gophers and other unwanted trespassers – that regular visits to perform the most basic of maintenance should be problematic.

Stay tuned! You can bet that April will bring The Pet Cemetery – Part 3.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Frisky wasn't named yet. He was just a tiny kitten who ran through what Margie’s five-year-old mind remembers as a mouse hole in the fence to escape the rubble falling all around him. You see; the house the kitten lived under was being demolished by a huge scary ball! Black and white and covered in dust, he surprised Margie by running straight at her.

It was love at first touch for both Margie and the little fur ball, and it was Margie’s first ever animal rescue.

Frisky earned his name by his playful ways – he sprinted in a clumsy zigzag formation and pounced at nothings in the air – or it may have been a popular pet food commercial on TV at the time…this was the 1960’s. The name mattered little for Margie had found a playmate and she discovered the divine friendship of a cat.

Mr. Frisky was a bit of a world traveler, in a cat’s world anyway. He moved with Margie’s family from Monterey to four different houses in Scotts Valley before settling in at “606.” 606 was a big A-frame that Margie’s dad built and Frisky loved it! There were wood beams to walk along, high windows to gaze out at life beyond from, and no shortage of nighttime visitors. The raccoons were plentiful in Scotts Valley; one man even had a pet raccoon that rode around on the hood of his truck. You would never see that in Monterey.

Frisky went to live among the stars of heaven some time ago, but he left his mark on Margie's cheek for all time when the sound of her daddy’s power drill scared him – Frisky shot up and out of her arms with claws out. Though that mark has faded with the decades, the mark he left on her heart is one of the many sparks that ignites her passion for animals today.

Margie grew up to become Mari, and Mari has something to say to that green-eyed, black-and-white first cat, “Thank you Frisky!"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hope Sings Eternal

Hope is my favorite word of all time. Hope inspires. Hope smiles. Its power is as strong as the sun. Hope transcends energy. It can melt a soggy depression. It can bring to life a dream.

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
--Emily Dickinson

When I think of hope, I think of positive change. I think of growing or moving forward. Sometimes hope means light and sometimes it means relief. For me, at least today, it means making my mom proud. She believed in me more than I have ever believed in myself. She died this past December and would absolutely delight in my dream come true.

And hope is at the center of my dream. On one side is The Honorable Dalmatian, a store I am breathing life into daily, and on the other side is the end of pet homelessness and animal cruelty. The Honorable Dalmatian is a spoke in the wheel of this awesome goal and hope lights the way.

The Honorable Dalmatian will help fund animal shelters and rescue programs through product sales.

According to Wikipedia, hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life.

Everyone has a dream – follow your heart, believe in yourself and never lose hope.

I BELIEVE and I thank my mom for that!

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