Friday, August 28, 2015

Volunteer Appreciation: Tami and Tom

If you've visited the Berkeley Humane Society in the last two years, there's a strong chance you've met a cat or dog who's been cared for by Tami or Tom (respectively). The Berkeley couple's living situation prohibits them from having pets at home, but after passing by the shelter on the way to nearby Ironworks so many times, they turned to volunteering. For them, it's a natural way to help animals while, in Tami's words, "also getting our puppy/kitty 'fix'."

Tami and Tom have been donating their time and energy
to Berkeley Humane since 2013
With so much love and attention spread generously across all the animals they've come in contact with, there have been a few standout personalities over the years.

In Tami's case, one of them very nearly was a rock star: "Pat Benatar," as she was known at the shelter, "Was an amazing polydactyl kitty who loved to play by chasing my hand under the towel in her cage. She would pounce on it with both of her enormous front cute! Her personality was much larger than her small frame." Tami was lucky to be on site the day that Pat Benatar was adopted – by a runner for the studio where Metallica records! Talk about namesake pairing.

Recently, Tom got to work with Oktoberfest, "just a big lovable beast with a great spirit." Hopefully you can learn more about Oktoberfest's new family in a future Going Home post, because he was adopted out! His happy energy is forever captured through this video (and not just through his commitment to tennis balls):

But a good dog is a good dog, and size doesn't matter for which canines make volunteering so uplifting. "I also volunteer Monday nights at Puppy Kindergarten training," Tom says. "Puppies are of course another super fun part of our volunteer work." (Author's Note: I dare you to imagine "Puppy Kindergarten" without smiling.)

Unsurprisingly, the regular act of letting go can be tough. "If I am lucky, I only see each animal once," Tami said. Yet, envisioning the cats' and dogs' futures helps. "When I see a kitty week over week I do get attached, but once I find out from Staff who has adopted them, I can imagine what their new home may be like and it helps to let them go."

The other reality to preparing Berkeley Humane's animals is filling in their incomplete pasts enough to properly serve the animal. "The ones that are skittish or difficult to approach can be challenging," Tom admitted. "Especially since we never really know their history. Overcoming bad experiences is probably one of the biggest challenges we face."

Often, it's by the sheer wills of volunteers like Tami and Tom that these dogs and cats get a new starting point to launch from. It's why they do what they do. "I love seeing the adoption board full of familiar names," Tami says. "It's particularly gratifying when I see a name of an animal I know has been harder to adopt out."

"Volunteering has increased my joy and empathy and helps remind me every week to slow down," Tami says.

Tom holding the Puppy Kindergarten Valedictorian
"Completely agree," adds Tom. "So much of life gets away from us with stress being a constant drain. Spending time with the animals is a great way to reset the week and enjoy moments with some four-legged friends."

The two feel so rejuvenated by volunteering that it's truly integrated into their own well-being as humans, and they don't view it as time consuming. "Tami and I volunteer during the same shift, and it fits nicely in with our usual routine for that day. With the dogs, it honestly goes by so fast – sometimes I don't even have enough time to spend with each animal."

"It's been easy to commit to because it's baked into my schedule and I know I can rely on it. On the weeks I have to cancel, I really miss being there." Tami says.

In between all those weekly visits to Berkeley Humane, Tami and Tom also recommend working at least one event a year. "[It] really inspires us because we get to see how the organization has a positive effect on the community."

It's win-win-win with these two, the cats and dogs they care for, and Berkeley Humane! Many thanks to Tami and Tom for all of their hard work and dedication.

Tami and Tom are just part of the excellent volunteer team that keeps Berkeley Humane running. From animal volunteers to videographers to truck drivers – if you've got the time, there's probably a talent you can lend, too. For more information, visit our Volunteer page!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Record adoptions at Bark & Meow Around the Block 2015

The Third Annual Bark (& Meow) Around the Block on August 15th was a phenomenal, record-breaking success.

Twenty Bay Area rescue groups joined together at Berkeley Humane to "Clear the Shelters" with support from NBC Bay Area. This is the first year that Bark (& Meow) has partnered with NBC's Clear the Shelters event, which helped over 17,000 animals get adopted nationwide.

We were so happy to see so many community members join us for food, drink, dancing, raffle drawings, games, and (of course) meeting adoptable dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds.

Bark & Meow Around the Block captured hearts online as well as in person: Cute Overload chose us at their ResQte of the Week! Check out their photos and videos of the event!

Berkeley Humane alone facilitated 48 adoptions, breaking our own record of the highest number of adoptions to take place within six hours.

Picture by Berkeley Humane Adoption Specialist Krista May Carpenetti
Across all rescue groups, 135 animals went home with delighted adopters. That total smashes last year's record!


Enthusiastic thanks go out to the event's committee members, whose tireless efforts since spring brought about this successful event:
  • Event Chair: Catherine Culhane
  • Logistic Chair: Rosemary Dutra
  • Adoptions Chair: Erin Chandler
  • Marketing Chair: Melissa Mangini
  • Hoopla Chair: John Culhane
  • Raffle Chair: Emily Murphy
  • Sponsorship Chairs: Amy Ertekin & Tatiana Ware
  • Volunteer Chair: Jin Yoo
Sponsors also helped make the event sing, from advertising to prize donations.
  • NBC Bay Area
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Pet Food Express
  • Berkeley Police Association
  • Berkeley Dog & Cat Services
  • SnapLogic
  • Alpha Dog Marketing
  • The Rare Barrel
  • Lions Club
  • Kruse Plumbing
  • Kaiser Permanente Thrive
  • Rosemary Dutra, Intero Real Estate
  • Monty Lee, EA
  • Celery Design Collaborative
  • Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
We'd particularly like to thank the Berkeley Lions Club who, in addition to being a sponsor, arrived early in the morning to offer hours of back-breaking labor to set up the event.

Thanks again to the volunteers and community members who joined us on Saturday. Berkeley Humane works every day to support and provide animal welfare resources to the community, and Saturday was a great reminder of how the community supports us, too.

See you next year at Bark (& Meow) Around the Block!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Going Home: Snaggle

Happy Woof Wednesday!

So many animals found homes this past weekend at Bark & Meow Around the Block! We'll give you a closer look at the record-setting adoption numbers later in the week. To celebrate Woof Wednesday, here's a barking tale about a small pup who also found a wonderful home a few months back.

Meet Snaggle, formerly Irish Red.

How adorable is Snaggle? Those ears, those eyes, and best of all, that tooth! Not every dog can pull off a snaggle tooth with such style but as you can see, Snaggle does it with ease.

Here's a note from Snaggle's adopter Kathy, who had this to say:

"I renamed Irish Red.  He is now, officially, Snaggle, because of his snaggle tooth.  He is a wonderful dog and he truly was meant to be here.  We have gone to see our vet and I signed him up for training.  Thank you for bringing us together."

Thank you for the update Kathy! Here's to Snaggle and working on those training commands.

Did you find a special friend at Bark & Meow Around the Block this past weekend? Update us about your Berkeley Humane adoption story on Facebook, or send us a note!

If you're looking for new friends to love, visit Berkeley Humane Friday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm. Our website has great information on the adoption process and our available cats and dogs.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bark & Meow Around the Block is tomorrow!

SAT. AUGUST 15, 10AM - 4PM
Open to the public. Free to attend.
  • Adoptable Animals
    Dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, bunnies, and birds!
  • Great Food & Beer
    Grilled Cheez Guy, Fist of Flour pizza, Whole Foods serving sandwich wraps, Skylite Snowballs, The Mead Kitchen, Green Flash, and Lagunitas.
  • Games & Activities 
    Bouncy house, face painting, toy making, caricature portraits, hacky-sack toss, fortune telling, dress-up photobooth, and more!
  • Live music
    The 415s will be jamming!
  • Fantastic Raffle Prizes
    Plenty of chances to win all kinds of raffle prizes! There's something for everyone.
  • Fun Products
    From eco-friendly stuffable pet beds, to vitamin gravy, to cupcakes and treats for pups, it's time to pamper your pooch with these goodies!
  • Dog-Friendly
    Well-behaved and harnessed dogs welcome! In fact, we'll have plenty of yummy dog biscuits, water bowls, and even activities—including hotdog bobbing and a rally course—to entertain your pooch.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Going Home: Misha

Hello and welcome to a particularly triumphant Woof Wednesday! Today we're proud to introduce you to Misha, a very special dog.

Misha, who was known as Miss Rose while she was within Berkeley Humane's care, came to California by way of Arizona. It's truly a credit to Misha's sweet-hearted tenacity that she made the journey.

Originally discovered by Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) on an Arizona reservation, Misha showed clear signs of ongoing torment. Despite rocks being thrown at her, she remained friendly and patient to the RAVS veterinarians.

A great bulk of RAVS' work consists of traveling to rural areas to provide spays, neuters, and other services to stray and feral animals. Seeing potential in Misha's kind disposition, RAVS reached out to Berkeley Humane's Medical Director Dr. Sarah Reidenbach to ask if Misha could be taken care of here in Northern California.

Misha's soulful eyes
Hundreds of miles later, Berkeley Humane gave Misha a thorough examination. She was independent (not a surprise given what she'd been through!), extremely gentle, and suitable for adoption. Though Misha had been a mother multiple times over, that was not the most obvious manifestation of her survival instincts. Misha's teeth were severely fractured – some worn down to the gumline – from eating rocks to survive.  Internally, Misha had contracted ehrlichia, a bacterial infection from ticks that prevents blood from clotting properly. Because of her poor blood health, Berkeley Humane had to wait to spay her. 

As Berkeley Humane Marketing Manager Sherry Liu recalls:
"In addition to all the tests, caring for her, and nursing her back to health so we can safely spay her, we also extracted eleven teeth to end her pain. 
After a month-long treatment-recovery process, she was ready to be adopted, then we found her a home."
Ready for adoption!
Since leaving Berkeley Humane, Misha has entered a home with new canine (and feline!) friends, a welcoming environment for play, and a basket full of toys:

"Miss Rose is now...Misha! Which means 'God-like.' seemed appropriate somehow. She is GREAT! Has fit in with our two dogs right away, even has started to play...we have a big basket of toys and she has gone over and pulled a few out after watching the other two. :-)

Misha in her foster home prior to adoption
 "She runs through the house with them and they all use my bed as a trampoline. She claimed the big overstuffed chair immediately as hers and it is now no other's.

"We love her and are so grateful you all took her in and took such good care of her."

Looking ahead to a bright future
Misha's tale is both a testimony of the inner strength of dogs and a heartwarming example of humans giving her a second chance. Misha is also a great example of how hard Berkeley Humane works to save adoptable animals.

We wish Misha and her new family – Melissa, Olivia, Sammie, Rosie, Curry, and Mimi – continued strength, love, and spontaneous fun!

Awed by Misha's tale? Please consider donating. Your contribution helps Berkeley Humane find and help animals like Misha.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Losing a Pet Part 2: Resources and Recommendations for Coping

Part one of our story explored the pet loss support group held every third Tuesday of the month at Berkeley Humane’s shelter. Anyone who has lost a pet, or is preparing to lose a pet with failing health, is welcome to stop by and share (or simply listen).

Losing a pet can dramatically impact your life. If you’re struggling with the loss of a loved animal, here are some coping suggestions from pet loss support group founder and co-facilitator Jill Goodfriend, RN, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Grief Recovery Specialist for Pet Loss.

Jill’s advice for grieving pet owners:
  • Be aware that grief is very stressful on the body, so you need to take good care of yourself. Attend to good nutrition and adequate water, rest, and daily exercise (consider a walk in nature); get a physical exam; and minimize the use of substances to numb the pain. Contact your doctor if you lose your appetite, lose or gain weight, have difficulty falling asleep or resting, or feel anxious much of the time.
  • Honor your emotions and find ways to express them. Get into your parked car with the windows rolled up and weep, cry, scream, let the pain out. Breathe deeply and often.
  • Set aside some time each day for the specific purpose of grieving and remembering. Honor your feelings: talk, share, journal, write letters to your pet (and have him write back to you using your non-dominant hand); go out in nature and be open to all your senses.
  • Create an altar inside and/or outside your home to honor your pet. Include his collar, favorite toy, photo, a candle, and a flower.
  • Find some reason every day to smile and laugh. Recall amusing or funny memories of your pet.
  • Keep a journal, create a scrapbook or photo album, make a list of what you learned from your pet. Take up expressive arts: draw, paint, sculpt, dance, move. Sign up for yoga, tai chi, chi gong, dance class, or a martial arts course.
  • Attend and participate in support groups and workshops. Reach out to others who understand and care. Visit chat rooms online. Write a biography or obituary of your pet on a web site. Actively plan how you would like to memorialize your pet, such as planting a flower or a tree in memory of your pet. Create your own rituals.
  • Participate in the “Virtual Candle-Lighting Ceremony” on at 7pm on Monday nights.
  • Try to avoid making major life decisions for several months. Be patient with short-term memory problems and decision-making. Look around, focus, be aware, center yourself, feel your feet on the ground, and take a deep breath before driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • Some people find prayer and meditation helpful. Talk with a pastor or priest or consider seeing a professional counselor. Don’t minimize the depth of your feelings.
  • Get involved. Volunteer at an animal shelter: walk dogs or socialize kittens, consider fostering, answer phones. (Check out Berkeley Humane's volunteer opportunities.)
  • Find one activity each day that brings you joy and pleasure. Avoid isolation: we are social beings who need to connect with each other.
  • Accept all of your feelings and know that they will likely change. Work toward letting go of self-recrimination, guilt, and anger. Practice gratitude and forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness.
  • Consider other losses, small or large, that you have experienced. Recall how you faced them and worked through them while discovering inner strengths, resources, and resilience. You can’t get over it, or around it, or over it, you’ve got to go through it — through the grief.
  • Accept that you will likely never stop feeling your loss, but you will learn to integrate it into your life. Trust that the holes in your heart, in your soul and in your life will eventually heal. Scar tissue is tough. In time you will feel stronger and more resilient. Your capacity to love and be loved unconditionally will be greater than ever.
Image courtesy of the Berkeley Humane website

If you can’t wait for the next pet loss support group, many websites and hotlines are available to help. Here are just a few options:

Jill has many additional resources and is glad to share them with anyone who attends the support group at Berkeley Humane

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fetch a new Berkeley brew!

Join Berkeley Humane and Fieldwork Brewing Company for the release of a very special beer.

Our Mobile Adoption Center will be at Fieldwork Saturday, August 8 from 2-5PM to celebrate the release of Fetch Pale Ale. We're bringing some cheerful, adoptable canines to the event. Who knows? You might even spot some dogs playing fetch while people sip Fetch!

Beer sales benefit Berkeley Humane: Fieldwork is donating $1 from every glass and $2 out of every growler full of Fetch.

We hope to see you Saturday, August 8 at Fieldwork, 1160 Sixth Street!