Paul’s Pebble Beach home was filled with Scottie dogs. I tried counting them.
Scotties in paintings and photos. Scottie pillows, hand towels and figurines. I thought I found all of them, then noticed another wearing a lampshade; a Scottie was the decorative lamp base!
But, no real Scottie dogs scampering around or sleeping on couches, and for good reason.
People ask how I got started in this business. I explain that I joined the Peninsula Humane Society in the SF Bay Area as a member of their senior team in 1998, following a few years as a high school teacher and administrator. Truth is, my animal welfare ties go back a decade earlier, to college and a gangly black lab puppy.
I was a senior at Stanford, living with three fellow seniors in a rented house off campus. We talked about getting a dog, but we were at least somewhat responsible. First, there was convincing the landlord. Also, none of us had plans beyond graduation and we recognized we could be going separate ways, which could leave a dog in a tough spot.
Maybe not. While driving home to San Bruno to spend Christmas with family, a radio spot caught my attention. A nonprofit called Canine Companions for Independence, which trained and provided assistance dogs, was recruiting puppy socializers and their six-month commitment lined up perfectly with graduation in June. That is, if we all graduated.
I looked to the sky at just the right time. A Red-tailed hawk had just dived down to grab a live rat in its talons. She was ascending directly above me while I was walking Murray, our rescue mutt, in our neighborhood not far from Big Sur Land Trust open space. What happened next was pretty cool.
Murray, 12 years old in a few months, didn’t mind stopping, having just crested a steep block. I kept my head up, and his went down to investigate new smells. The hawk and the hawk’s chicks began a series of back and forth contact calls, a version of the popular swimming pool game, Marco Polo. In this case, calls help the adult find chicks eagerly awaiting their next meal. Red-tailed hawks co-parent so the adult could have been male or female. I’ll go with “she.”
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.
Our logo is a bit of a mess and mystery. As far as anyone here knows, it was created for us sometime between 1989 and 1991. Prior to that, we had a typeface only logo, our SPCA letters spun in a groovy 1970s font. That should have gone out with feathered hair, pet rocks and disco, but it survived a decade past its “freshness” date.
A class of students possibly from Monterey Peninsula College took on our logo project either unsolicited or by invitation. Again, the history’s fuzzy. Each student in the class developed a concept and one was selected by our leadership or by a vote. Who knows? And that’s the logo we have and use today. Well, almost. Interestingly, this logo did not initially include our name. Oops.
Depending on how one looks at it, the logo could be seen as clever, confusing, cluttered or maybe a little of everything. Let’s begin with the whale, the logo’s featured star. And, that starts and ends with one simple question: why? We don’t save whales, we don’t find new homes for them and don’t write legislation that protects them. We like them and they are here, in Monterey Bay. Maybe that’s why they made the logo.