Saturday, February 12, 2011


When my son made his ill-advised comment at Christmas that his upcoming iPod gift was a "snooze-fest", I made the decision that I was going to severely cut back on my gift-giving.  Every minor holiday somehow has become a mini-Christmas.  Last year for Valentine's Day my kids each received candy plus a Pillow Pet from me.  They loved them.  It was a successful gift.  Other gifts, however, were not so popular and left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

In an effort to teach my children that less is more and that there is as much joy in giving as receiving, I informed them that this Valentine's Day they'd receive only candy.  The money I would have spent was instead going to a cause close to our hearts.  We are animal lovers in our family, particularly dogs and cats, and we care passionately about pet overpopulation.  We support numerous no-kill shelters, help to finance low-cost spay and neuter clinics, contribute to the Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry who distribute pet food to low-income owners, and have ourselves adopted three stray animals that wandered into our yard.  Knowing how much they loved animals, it seemed obvious what to do with the Valentine gift money.

My mother, sister, and I took my two kids to PetSmart today.  I gave them each the amount of money I spent on last year's Pillow Pets and let them pick out items from the League for Animal Welfare's wish list.  My son  chose canned food.  They were in need of food for dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens.  He carefully picked sizes and flavors he thought were appropriate.  He also chose a 28 pound box of scoopable kitty litter.  My daughter took the decision a little less seriously.  She fell passionately in love with a stuffed squeaky toy which she wanted for herself but agreed to pass on to the shelter.  She also picked out some soft dog treats.  She wandered off with Grandma while I filled in the gaps from the wish list with a 6' nylon leash, a large Nylabone, and a box of small Milkbone dog biscuits.  As usual there was a rescue group at the PetSmart and we saw several sweet dogs walking around wearing shirts that said "Adopt Me."  It's all I can do not to come home with a 40 pound bag of dog food and a 40 pound dog.

Looking at the dogs.

We have a particular fondness for hound dogs.
During the 30 minute drive to the shelter we listened to Bill Cosby cd's in the van.  Upon arrival we hauled in the bags, as well as some afghans I made from scrap yarn.  I had dozens of small balls of yarn from past projects and I crocheted them into ugly but functional afghans.  They use them folded on the cat beds and in cages.  After dropping the supplies at the front desk we went to the back to view the animals.  We started with the dogs, who live in very clean kennels and are easily viewed behind the glass.  We aren't allowed in to pet them, probably for liability reasons, but we wave hello to all of them and read their stories on the cards pinned to bulletin boards.  We also saw our sponsored dog, Connor.  We have $10 per month automatically deducted from our bank account each month to help with his care and maintenance until his adoption.  There's an adorable picture of him on the bulletin board wallowing in a filled kiddie pool.

From there we moved on to the half dozen or so cat rooms.  In these we are able to pet, cuddle, and play with the critters.  Despite my desire to take home every animal at the shelter, I'm always left feeling happy when I leave The League.  A traditional kill-shelter I find almost intolerable to visit, as I know if I don't take the dogs home many won't live long.  Of course, taking home every dog and cat is impossible, so I'm left depressed and miserable.  I always tell my kids that the worst thing that will happen to the animals we see at The League is that they will simply stay at the shelter forever.  And it's a beautiful shelter.  Each dog has his or her own kennel with a flap door so he can go into an enclosed area outside at will.  The cats live about 6-8 to a room, with plenty of climbing apparatuses, beds, and toys.  The cat rooms too each have a flap door that opens into a fenced area outside, complete with a bird feeder just outside the fence, giving the cats plenty to stare at.  Everything is clean and all the animals are well cared for.  The only depressing element is that I know there are some pets who have homes that aren't taken care of nearly as well as these animals in the shelter.
Do these cats have it made or what?

When we arrived home we were greeted by our own two cats and our big hound dog mix who sniffed us for the next 15 minutes in wonder.

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