Blogging from A to Z: H is for Humane Society

hIf you’ve known me for any length of time at all, you will soon hear about my passion for animal rescue and humane education.  I was always the one bringing home a stray cat or wanting to adopt a puppy from the box outside the grocery store, as a kid (I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, in a rural part of Oregon … that was a common sight at the time).

I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up, so that I could help animals.  Unfortunately, that dream got put on the shelf.  While my language skills were in the tippy-top percentile, my math skills were not.  It was not until adulthood that I learned I had dyscalculia.  Anyway, those math grades were enough to keep me out of veterinary school, so I put that dream on a high shelf.

IllustrationCut forward to many years later.  I volunteered as a cat socializer, adoption host, and dog behaviorist at the San Francisco SPCA in the 1990s when I lived in the city, and I had a houseful of pets — all of them rescues.  My Wednesday evenings were spent connecting people with new best friends, or helping shy cats if there were no customers.  Saturdays were an all-day affair of helping people train their newly adopted dogs.

Then I was divorced and moved to a different town.  I got custody of the pets, but I wasn’t volunteering anymore.

That didn’t change until after I remarried, moved to San Jose and, tragically, lost a 14-week-old kitten to an incurable disease called feline infectious peritonitis.  I felt helpless; I didn’t know what to do.  My husband brought home another kitten from Humane Society Silicon Valley, which was very near our home.  I didn’t feel quite ready for a new pet, but I came to love that little cat dearly as she snuggled with me and purred almost immediately.

When that kitty, whose name is Lulu, was about a year old, I felt very strongly called to volunteer at HSSV.  So, I took some orientation courses and started training.  I decided to work with the more aggressive and challenging cats, because I had one of those at home (her name was Abigail) and knew that they could be great pets if they came to trust humans.


I’ve been volunteering there for more than six years now.  I often tell people it’s the best things I do all week.


In the wake of the unexpected death at age two of our cat Teddy, due to cardiac thrombosis, I put together a memoir based on the journal I kept during my first year volunteering at HSSV.  It’s called Hugs and Hisses: My Mission of Love as a Shelter volunteer.  Teddy was, like Lulu, an HSSV shelter alum.  I had the permission and cooperation of the shelter’s staff, and I do not accept one dime of royalties; I donate every bit I earn to HSSV to help other animals in need.  In fact, this week I’ll be sending the first quarter royalties off to them via their donation link.

I would love it if you would consider buying a copy of the book, but it’s not mandatory.  It’s available via Amazon or Barnes & Noble in either paperback or eBook form, as well as in eBook form via Smashwords, Kobobooks, and Apple’s iBookstore.

As always, it wouldn’t be Monday without some music.  In keeping with the theme, I chose this clever video from SPCA of Wake County, promoting the adoption option.

15 thoughts on “Blogging from A to Z: H is for Humane Society

  1. I love this post! Sorry your original dream didn’t work out, but I’m glad you’ve managed to work your love of animals into your life. I love cats, too. My three were all homeless kitties that I couldn’t turn away.


  2. I wanted to be a vet, and then I realized I was too squeamish for surgery. I liked all the other aspects of the job though! My dreams were crushed in junior high and I moved on. My kitty was from the Humane Society, so I understand how important it is to give. Maybe I’ll consider volunteering in the near future?


  3. I would love to do something like that. Unfortunately, our branch of the Humane Society is a fifty minute drive from our house. We met a stray cat when we moved into our current home. After many years of leaving out food, he finally let us start petting him. Then he’d sit in my lap, then visit inside our home. Even though he has bitten and scratched us all numerous times, he sleeps on my chest and is adored by us all.

    H is for HAARP—Weather as a Weapon


    1. We have a feral family outside; Mama Victoria had three kittens in our yard. We got them all trapped and neutered, and they live around our house. The three kittens, Hari, Oliver, and Jewel, have begun to let us pet them. Mama is having none of it. We have great hopes of getting the kittens to live inside with us eventually, as they have all come in for brief visits. Thank you for stopping by!


  4. I also used to dream of being a vet, but not only are my math and hard science skills not strong enough, I don’t think I have the kind of emotional strength to put an animal down. I know I couldn’t handle keeping an animal like a mouse or gerbil, since they only live a few years, so ending an animal’s life on my own would be even more impossible. One of my characters is a vet student, and served as a medic with the Canadian Army during WWII. In a desperate situation, it doesn’t really matter if your doctor is trained in animals or people!

    Volunteering is the next-best thing! I’d love to do that kind of volunteer work. It would be pretty fun if I were able to volunteer with a shelter that had exotic pets too, not just dogs, cats, and rabbits.


    1. It wasn’t until adulthood that I considered how hard doing euthanasia would be; I am a softy. Luckily, I have always had very compassionate and kind veterinarians in my life whose bedside manner with pets and their humans alike was fantastic. Author James Herriot was my inspiration, and I look for his spirit in the doctors I choose.

      The shelter where I volunteer also does work with the local dove and pigeon rescue, and we had some chickens for a while. We also have “pocket pets” like rats, guinea pigs, and hamsters … and are fortunate to have one guy for whom those little sweeties are a passion and a specialty.

      Thank you for stopping by!


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