Shelters you should know: Meet FOHA in northern Virginia

Blog the ChangeFor this round of Blog the Change for Animals, I wanted to (once again) highlight an organization that has been helping animals since before I was a twinkle in my parents’ eyes.

Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) in northern Virginia has been serving the DC area since 1973. In 2012, FOHA gave me a wonderful place to volunteer and a new pup in the form of Tavish. In 2013, FOHA celebrated its 40th anniversary. This year, the fantastic folks at FOHA are continuing this important work into year forty-one. Continue reading

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Inspiration from Hope for Paws and the Bill Foundation

Many of the sessions at BlogPaws were about the nuts and bolts of blogging. After all, it’s important to know what you have in your toolbox when you’re building a blog. One of my favorite sessions of the conference sounded like it would also be about tools – but it was really about heart.

The session had an simple enough title: “Make Some NOISE – How to Connect All Your Social Media & Create Buzz.” The speakers for this session were Eldad Hagar and Annie Hart, two rescue rock stars. Eldad works with Hope for Paws, Annie works with the Bill Foundation, and they both work together to make a difference for animals in need.

It was a very informative session, but it was also a very emotional one. Eldad and Annie showed us two videos. I’d seen the first one before, but it rained on my face anyway. (Grab a tissue and go watch it. It’s about Janie, a dog with a broken back and a wounded spirit. As you’ll see, she needed more than surgery to heal her heart. I love a happy ending.)

I thought I’d share the second video here today. We got a sneak preview at BlogPaws, but the video was posted on YouTube this past Friday. It was beautiful to see two different organizations working together to promote each other’s missions. We really can reach more people together than we can alone.

In addition to giving my tear ducts a workout, Eldad and Annie shared a number of useful tips. However, the most important thing I took away that day was inspiration.

What inspires you?

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7 easy ways to reuse your dog

It’s Earth Day, which means that we should be thinking of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Today, I thought I’d focus on that middle one.

(Why? Well, Tavish is currently on a diet, so he’s got that whole reduce thing covered. With regard to recycling, I had to talk myself out of just posting this video again.)

The EPA has noted that the best way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. One way to create less waste is to reuse what we already have. When I was thinking about things I could reuse, it hit me. I have a dog. (Two, in fact.) Obviously, my dogs provide me with love, companionship, entertainment, and blog fodder. But… can they do more? I bet they can – and I bet your dogs can too.

Without further ado, here are five alternate uses for your dog:

  1. Foot warmer – Are your toes cold? Don’t invest in a space heater. Just ask your canine companion to curl up on your feet.

    Foot warmer

  2. Footrest – Why should you spend a pretty penny on a designer ottoman? The perfect footrest may already be under your nose… er, feet. (Obviously, please take the size and temperament of your dog into account. Not all dogs will be willing to put up with your nonsense.)
  3. Bookmark – If you saw it, then you should have put a paw on it.Daily Dog Challenge #82
  4. Shredder – If you simply must shred some documents (before you recycle the paper, of course), don’t invest in a pricey machine. Save your money and conserve electricity by giving your paper to the dog, nature’s shredder.
  5. Doorstop – Pesky door won’t stay open? Perhaps your dog can help. They’re probably going to curl up and take a nap anyway – why not hold that door open while they snooze away? If your dogs, like mine, would never agree to sit still for that long, try using a dog toy instead:Dog toys have many uses
  6. Exercise equipment - Don’t buy a treadmill or an elliptical machine. Just clip a leash onto your furry beast and get moving.
  7. Alarm clock – Don’t buy a new clock. Your dogs can wake you up each morning. Unfortunately, the canine alarm clock does not allow you to choose what time you’d like to wake up. It’s also missing a snooze button.After-market snooze button for your dog

There you have it – seven easy ways you can reuse your dog. Have some ideas to add to the list? Thought of some new ways to go green? Share them in the comments!

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FOHA: Forty years of helping animals

Blog the ChangeFor this round of Blog the Change for Animals, I wanted to highlight an organization that has been helping animals since before I was a twinkle in my parents’ eyes.

Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) in northern Virginia has been serving the DC area since 1973. Last year, FOHA gave me a wonderful place to volunteer and a new pup in the form of Tavish. This year, FOHA celebrates its 40th anniversary. Continue reading

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Cops: K9 Edition

Otto the Police Dog demo

Otto the Police Dog doing a demo at Barktoberfest

Digging the black & white vibe we’ve got going on today? It’s part of the Black & White Sunday blog hop hosted by You Did What With Your Weiner, My Life in Blog Years, and Dachshund Nola. Stop by one of those blogs to link up and join the fun!

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It’s raining on my face: Pilots ‘N Paws

Three local rescue groups in the northern Virginia area (including HART and FOHA, who you may remember from such awesome dogs as Bella and Tavish) participated in a massive Pilots ‘N Paws event on Saturday.  The event was called the “Dog is My Copilot” Rescue Flyaway, and it helped save over 300 dogs.

As part of this flyaway event, more than one hundred dogs were brought from high-kill shelters in North Carolina to groups in northern Virginia. The dogs have now been placed in foster homes and shelters with no-kill pledges. Pretty cool, huh?

I have a special video to share with you today – it’s from the Asheville Humane Society, one of the groups in North Carolina helping to send these lucky pups on their way to northern Virginia and other destinations. (Insert obligatory tissue warning here.)

Is it raining on your face too?  It just so happens to be a pretty soggy day here, so perhaps everyone will just think I was outside too long.

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Teen (Mutt) Mom: 4 Months & Pregnant?

I just came across this great set of ads from the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. The ads are part of the Fix at Four campaign, which is designed to educate people about the proper age for spaying and neutering your pets. (Well done, Best Friends. Bob Barker would be proud.)

Did you know that a kitten can become a mother at four months of age and a puppy at six months? Kind of crazy, when you think about it. (Take it from me, I adopted an unwed teen puppy mother off the streets. After Bella had her puppies, some cruel person kept the puppies and dropped her off at the shelter – and she was barely a year old at the time, maybe less.)

These ads are extremely clever, funny and effective. I think this one is my favorite (based on the Creek connection, of course).

Check out two more ads, after the jump…

Continue reading

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If at first you don’t succeed, volunteer again!

Blog the ChangeLately, it seems that I’m constantly running behind. Today’s post is no exception. Writing a post for Blog the Change for Animals has been on my to do list for over a week, yet I’m still barely getting it up before the day is done. Luckily, a topic has been percolating in my brain for a while now, so here we go…

Have you ever thought about volunteering for a rescue group? I’ll admit – it took me a while to turn my intentions into actions. I would occasionally send an email to a rescue group for information, but somehow it never really clicked.

For today’s Blog the Change event, I decided to share a little bit about my experience and encourage you not to give up if you’re interested in working with a rescue group. I had my own form of Goldilocks syndrome – it took me a while to find a group and volunteer opportunities that were a good fit. With a little persistence and patience, you can find your fit as well.

For me, things finally changed once I read an article about Second Chance Photos. I’d never considered offering my services as a volunteer photographer before, and reading about the organization gave me the push I needed to seriously pursue volunteering with a local rescue group. I emailed several local organizations, and one took me up on my offer. (I later had the opportunity to attend a Second Chance Photos workshop, and it was fantastic.)

My experience taking photos of some of the animals at Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) led to other opportunities. In order to make the logistics of photo shoots easier, one of the other volunteers suggested I sign up for dog walker training. (Before taking the training, I had to have another volunteer get the dogs out of their runs and bring them to me for photos. Now I can get dogs out myself. I’ll be candid – I haven’t done any formal photo shoots since taking the training, but I’m going to revisit this option soon. I wanted to get comfortable with the shelter and its routines before trying again)

After taking the training, I began to receive FOHA’s weekly newsletter, which is full of volunteer opportunities. I started to volunteer for dog adoption events, and I now help out with FOHA’s Twitter account as well. The adoption events are very rewarding – it’s a fun way to spend a day, and it’s nice for the dogs to get out of the shelter for a few hours. Two of the dogs I’ve brought to events (Willis and Janai) have since been adopted – when I read their names in the weekly email of dogs who were going home, my smile couldn’t have been bigger.

My most recent adoptable buddy – the lovely Smilin’ Sally.

So, if you want to volunteer but don’t  know where to start, this post is for you. Your fit is out there. If the first group you try isn’t a great match, try another one.

Try out different opportunities. If you’re a people person, you might enjoy working an adoption event. If you enjoy being outdoors, you might like being a dog walker. If your time is limited or you prefer working from home, you could volunteer to help with the organization’s social media accounts. If you’re a writer, perhaps you can help pen bios of adoptable animals for the website. Do you have experience planning events? Perhaps you can help plan a fundraiser or organize other events for the group. Are you a cat person? Consider becoming a volunteer cat snuggler. (Best job title ever.) Help collect food, blankets or other supplies for the shelter. Every little bit helps, whether you can volunteer once a week or once a month.

Many rescue groups have weekly newsletters – sign up for those and take a a look to see what kinds of help the group needs. There’s an opportunity out there for everyone. Sometimes, you just have to try a few on for size until you find the one that’s just right. If you haven’t found your fit yet, don’t give up. I’m glad I finally took the leap, and I hope you will too.

I also hope you’ll check out all of the great blogs participating in today’s Blog the Change event… there are some truly wonderful posts this round.

 

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I have a crush on the Travelers Insurance dog

I don’t know how I missed this ad during the holiday season (after all, I am mildly obsessed with the life and times of the Travelers Insurance dog).  I realize it’s a bit late to be sharing a Christmas ad… however, it made me smile, so I’m posting it anyway. You know you don’t mind…

There are even more ads online that I just discovered – one with a soapbox car and another involving a cat burglar. How am I not seeing these when I watch TV – have they been aired in your area?

Anyway, I was a bit curious about these ads and the canine thespian therein.  The dog who stars in these commercials is named Chopper.  This former shelter dog makes my day every time I see one of the ads.

His trainer, Sue Chipperton, even has her own blog, called Check the Gate.  (You may have seen one of her videos recently over at Life With Dogs, in fact.)  A few fun facts I learned from her blog:

My crush continues… Chopper is just too cute for words.  That’s all for today… see you tomorrow for the Pet Blogger Challenge!
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