It’s summer Animal Camp season at the SPCA. Each Monday, a new group of 40 eight to twelve-year-olds visits our campus for a week-long day camp led by our Humane Education and Outreach Coordinator — Miss Darlenne to the kids — and her talented team of junior counselors.
This popular SPCA mainstay since the 1980s offers children a unique mix of fun and educational hands-on experiences that nurture compassion and respect for all living things, and makes a difference for animals in our care. And, every now and then, the kids work their parents over and end up adopting a dog, cat, bunny, guinea pig, snake or bird they’ve met during the week!
My two kids are three-year camp veterans and they enjoyed camp this summer every bit as much as they did our first summer here in 2016. No doubt, Audrey will apply for a counselor position when she’s eligible, age-wise, in a few years.
As I often say, we see the best and worst in people in our business. Take this past week, which started with this email message:
“I need to get rid of these three dogs. One of them is half boxer and something else and the other 2 is rottweiler [sic] and I just really need to get rid of them. They’re just taking up to much room for me and my family.”
Wow. I haven’t seen a message worded so bluntly, with so much detachment. As the only open-admission shelter in Monterey County, we responded as we always do, informing the owner that we should be seen as a last resort after they’ve exhausted other efforts to rehome their dogs…that we rehome all healthy animals, that we make well most animals with health and behavior challenges, but can’t make any promises. We assess animals carefully and individually.
Ugly sweaters have jumped the shark. Now that sweaters are specifically designed and made to impress at ugly sweater contests, that goes against the spirit. I mean, it started as a simple idea where people would pull out their ugly sweater that wasn’t designed to look ugly. It just was. That was the beauty (or ugliness) of it.
For decades, animal shelters placed a moratorium on adoptions in the days leading up to Christmas and would forbid people from adopting pets as gifts to protect them from being sent back, just like ugly sweaters that get returned in the days after Christmas.
As they say, a photo’s worth a thousand words. To me, this photo is worth much more, but I’ve kept it to a tidy 567. Hey, we’re all busy this time of year. Busy decorating homes, addressing holiday cards, and shopping.
Our neighborhood is holding a holiday lights decorating contest; $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third. My 8-year-old pleaded “Go big, Dad!” He doesn’t have a great sense of money yet and I don’t have the heart to tell him I already spent the equivalent of the first-place dough on extension cords. My wife asked if I knew what I was doing with all the cords and multi-pronged outlets snaked around the garage and front yard. I said yes with Clark W. Griswold confidence, but I’m also holding my breath when anyone plugs-in a hair dryer.
Two custom, almost life-sized gingerbread men (people?) we made for our front yard could push us into contention. Why buy inflatables, when you can spend far more time jigsawing, sanding, painting and sealing plywood? One of the cookie cutter figures needed minor surgery after a button eyeball I attached with glue slid halfway down his face, making him look more like a deformed Halloween decoration. The eye is screwed back where it belongs. We’re looking good now, ready to be judged.
Our feeds are filled with news related to shootings and fires. We can’t even catch a small break in the world of sports, an escape for many. The Golden State Warriors, who’ve brought nothing but joy, championships and parades in recent years, are fighting with each other!
We need something warm and snuggly. Meet Coco whose name alone fits the bill and that’s just the beginning.
I first learned of Coco over the weekend. Her adopter posted this on our Facebook page: