Last year around this time, I thought of myself as a fairly passionate person. However, when I stopped to think about, what did I really feel passionate about? I enjoy writing, but it's not my passion - it makes me feel too pressured and at times insecure. Same goes for playing piano. I can't be passionate about reading, though God knows it's my absolute favorite. I sure as hell wasn't passionate about my previous jobs, which mostly consisted of answering phones and/or selling people clothes and cleaning up after them. And then Jared and I visited the Humane Society of North Iowa.
To be clear, I had never had a pet before. And I liked animals for sure, but I had liked them like, "Oh, sure, I'll pet your dog, okay, that's enough now." But after visiting and volunteering at the Humane Society for a couple of months, I was like, Oh. Okay. This. This is what I care about. Dog after dog, cat after cat, staring at me from behind bars. It sounds like a sad place, but it's really not - to me, it's hopeful. These animals have all been given second chances at new, better lives than the ones they had before. The look in the dog's face when you approach them with a leash, the way the cats press themselves against the cage to be petted - there are ways of not needing much, and these animals really don't; they just, like so many of us, want to be loved. The first time Jared and I visited, all we did was hang out in a few of the dogs' kennels. A simple thing...but when we left, the world I walked outside into was so different from what it was before. I decided to leave my higher-paying job in order to work as a kenneler, and later, as customer service, at the HSNI.
This list of "HSNI Christmas gifts" is really more for my entertainment than anything else - and so I can promote the personalities of these wonderful dogs. Though these would all be kickass gifts for your own dog, if you'd actually like to buy something to donate to the Humane Society, they can always use things like paper towels, plastic bags, and bleach. Otherwise, here is their Amazon Wish List. Maybe this Christmas, we can think a little less about spend, spend, spend...and we can think more about spending time with these furry sweethearts, who just want a warm home and someone to snuggle. :)
Beau and Chachi
Beau and Chachi (photo from here, courtesy of Arickx Photography) have been dealt a pretty rough card in life. Their owner passed away, and they were thought to be in the house alone for a week before they were rescued and brought to us. Both dogs are considered "senior dogs" (over 7 years of age), and they are not in the greatest of shape. Multiple health problems and old age have made these sweetie pies get passed over time and time again. But those ailments haven't brought them down - they are two of my favorite dogs in the building. Beau's excited prances and whimpers, paired with Chachi's playful barks and side-eyed glances, make them pretty hard to resist. If they were my dogs, I would totally push them around in this adorable doggy stroller! Beau still loves to go on walks, but because of their age, this would be a fun and easy way for them to get outside and get some fresh air. One of my favorite times of the day at work is going to visit Chachi and Beau and watching them fight over who gets petted first. :)
Sigh. Good old Goldie. (Photo from here, courtesy of Arickx Photography) This poor girl has a sad story also. I'm sure many people are already aware of it, so I'll spare you the details. Basically, she was abandoned and left to die in someone's house for weeks and forced to chew off her tail to survive. Though she came to the Humane Society pretty traumatized, she has thrived since, gaining weight and wiggling that stubby little tail like crazy! Unfortunately, Goldie has been there since January of last year. :( Nearly a year without a home and owner to call her own! (The reason, though controversial among HSNI "critics", is that she is unable to live with other animals, and she is a senior dog but very, very high energy. These factors combined have made her tough to adopt out.) She is such a trooper though, and she always gets most excited about two things: food (of course) and tennis balls. My LORD, she loves tennis balls. You could honestly wear your arm out throwing the damn ball, and she could still go for hours playing fetch. Thus, a great gift for a Goldie owner would be this Go Dog Go fetch machine! This bucket pushes tennis balls into the mechanism and launches them automatically for your dog to chase. A cheaper option would be this K9 Kannon, which is basically a Nerf gun that shoots tennis balls.
(Oh! Goldie also loves to be sprayed with water...she tries to eat it. :) So cute!)
All poor Chuy (photo from here, courtesy of Love and Luck Photography) wants is a warm lap to curl up on and someone to give him lots and lots of love! This guy is a typical chihuahua, and though he tends to pick and choose who he likes, there's tons of love and affection within his tiny little body. Chuy is an older gentleman, and what he needs is a home to retire in. He also loves his beds and blankets. And yes, yes, this plush dog bed is pink and green, and Chuy is a dude - it's fine :) I don't think gender stereotypes apply to canines. Give Chuy a blanket along with this bed, and you will soon only see a small lump under the blanket...he likes to hide under the covers! :)
Look at these handsome boys!!! (Photos from here, courtesy of Arickx Photography) Both released to us from their previous homes (through no fault of their own!), Gunner and Jack are often passed over by potential adopters because they are both very energetic. Poor guys! However, once they've burned off all their pent-up energy, they're total sweethearts. And the way they like to burn off energy? FETCH. Get these two guys in separate outdoor runs (along with Tipper, below!), they run back and forth, chasing each other and tennis balls through the fence - it is hilarious! But because their jaws are so dang strong, lots of our tennis balls end up pretty much ruined. These balls are said to be virtually indestructible...perfect for these playful guys. Plus, they come in glow in the dark! :)
Those ears! (Photo from here, courtesy of Tyler Trenhaile) Not only is this guy absolutely gorgeous, but he is also super smart! He knows several commands and listens extremely well...he also does great on walks. And man, can he jump! Showing me his special talent for catching things mid-air, Tipper showed off in the outdoor runs with Gunner and Jack, as well as catching treats when I threw them. This adorable little pet treat launcher would be great for him and his future owner...it launches dog treats 20 feet in the air for your pup to leap for!
Rico was adopted out to someone this past summer (photo from here, courtesy of Love and Luck Photography), after which he was sadly shuttled around from home to home - that's no life for a dog! Somehow, he got out, and he made his way back to us. Though of course he is sad to be back in the shelter, he is quite a happy little guy. He gets along with cats and most other dogs, and though he's timid with strangers, he's SUCH a lover once he gets to know you. Don't be intimidated by his excited barks when he's in his kennel - he is just an excitable dog, and he immediately quiets once he is let out. He is a lovable lap dog who even loves baths, and his toothy little grin can make anyone's day! Rico needs to wear a harness when he goes on walks because of his tendency to cough with a regular leash and collar. This plaid harness would look so cute on this little guy!
Chico came in as a stray (photo from here, courtesy of Arickx Photography) with a little chihuahua girlfriend, and though she has found a forever home, he is still waiting! I love him because he tries to act super tough when he's in his kennel, but as soon you open the door, he's just a little lovebug. You will fall in love with his prance when he walks and his crazy, excited tail! If Chico were my dog, I would dress him up in tough biker doggie clothes (shirt; jacket) just because they're so not suited for him - he's a softie at heart!
CUTTER OMG CUTTER!!
I am in love with this dog. (Photo from here, courtesy of Love and Luck Photography) In fact, the entire staff loves Cutter - how could you not?! LOOK at this heartbreaker! I have such a soft spot in my heart for this dog - he needs a home so badly. He came to us as a stray, and he has turned out to be the sweetest and most loving dog ever. He picks and chooses which dogs he's friends with, but he loves all humans and children of all ages. He also seems to enjoy having baths and having his ears cleaned, which is definitely unusual for a dog. I just cannot say enough good things about Cutter, and it breaks my heart because he is consistently passed over...because he's a pit bull. The breed has such a bad reputation...but Cutter does NOT fit the stereotype AT ALL. If I took Cutter home with me (and oh Lord, I would if I could)...I would deck him out in this dapper bowtie, like the gentleman he is!
Okay, this list could go on and on. I actually had more dogs I was going to discuss, but I'm on the verge of writing a novella here. Again, if you'd actually like to donate to the Humane Society of North Iowa, don't donate these things :) Check out their wishlist on Amazon, or give us a visit and see these guys! For more information on them, you can go to their website. These dogs deserve another shot at a happy home.
Jared and I also adopted a Peekipoo named Riley from here. He has human eyes, likes to sleep under the covers by our feet, barks when we kiss, and we're pretty in love with him. :) More about him in another post.
Please volunteer at the Humane Society if you get a chance. It will improve your day for sure, and it'll DEFINITELY improve the day of the animals you spend time with.