Shadow Cats’ TNR Heroes Give A Sad Story A Happy Ending

Shadow Cats Cat RescueWe all want sad stories to have happy endings, right? What makes a happy ending so powerful and so welcomed? I’ll tell you, it’s the long, nasty, depressing bit in the middle.  With a happy ending, the sad parts somehow get fixed, and the story is brought to a triumphant end. Simple, right?

It usually goes like this: First, you have some terribly unpleasant situation, a desperate and seemingly impossible situation, and then miraculously, out of the blue, something happens to make it not only right, but even better than you could have ever imagined. Think about most of the stories by Charles Dickens.

I am no Charles Dickens, and this story doesn’t have the wonderfully complex plot twists and turns of, say David Copperfield, but it is still touchingly sad, and it has that beautifully happy ending that would warm the heart of anyone. [Read more…]

Texas Humane Heroes Celebrate Their First Year With A Paws And Reflect Breakfast At Jack Allen’s Kitchen

Texas Humane Heroes (7)2013 has been a milestone year for Texas Humane Heroes. It started on January 15th with the merger of the Humane Society of Williamson County and CenTex Humane Society – two local no-kill pet adoption centers. That is a big job all by itself. On top of all the work that goes along with merging two agencies into one, they still had to carry on their main mission of finding families for abandoned and homeless animals.

To celebrate this important year, and to bring local supporters and donors up to speed on everything involved in the change, Texas Humane Heroes put on an appreciation breakfast at Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Round Rock. Several speakers, headed by Ron Marullo, Executive Director of Texas Humane Heroes, took time to share their impressions about the big changes, and their hopes and plans for the future. At the core of every message was that, in spite of all of the work that had to be done to get these two agencies under the same banner, the job of finding homes for stray dogs and cats had to be carried on.

That is a huge and costly job. As mentioned earlier, Texas Humane Heroes is a no-kil6a00e554e7f95e8833013487f9d9b9970c-800wil shelter. That means that THH commits to fully care for each animal that it brings into their adoption centers until a forever home is found for each and every animal. Spaying, neutering, veterinary exams, shelter and nutrition for each of these animals adds up, and adoption fees cover less than half the total average cost per animal. You can see why this job is huge, and that fund raising to meet this need is never ending. [Read more…]

Williamson County’s Mustang Heritage Foundation Helps Warriors and Mustangs Start New Lives

Mustang Heritage FoundationI was deeply moved by a book I read back in the mid-90s called The Man Who Listens to Horses by Monty Roberts. I was living in Amarillo at the time, and I started to really absorb the amazing western culture found in the Panhandle.

I have come to believe that any understanding of the western U.S. has to begin with an understanding of how central the horse is to it. Many of my friends there were horsemen, and I wanted to understand what the mystique was all about. It was so interesting.

I had a hurdle to get over.  I was scared to death of horses.  When I was a boy, I fell off of a three year old horse while she was running at full gallop through a field dotted with limestone boulders. I ended up okay, but it was a narrow escape. After that, I was pretty much done.  If I wanted adventure in a saddle,  the little motorcycle I had was plenty; a horse was just too big and scary. Monty Roberts’ book helped me to understand a little about why horses behave the way they do, and it changed my attitude about horses forever. I also learned from the book that there is great nobility in this amazing animal, and that man and horse can learn a lot from each other. He helped me understand the mystery. [Read more…]

Dog (and Cat) Days in Leander End Up Finding Forever Homes for Dogs and Cats – Texas Humane Heroes

It was a dog day, alright. Texas Humane HeroesIt was only 10:30 in the morning, and the temps were already at or near 100 with a high of 104 expected. This day was toasty. By the time I had a chance to catch up with and interview Eran Fehily, Director of Community Relations and Development for Texas Humane Heroes, there was a large group of moist people lining up to make their way into the kennels to pick out their new K9 family member. The kennel was full of barks, wagging tails, squealing kids and sweaty parents as everyone jockeyed for position around the front of their favorite pooch’s door. It was pretty much the same situation where the cats were being adopted except there was no barking – duh – and it was air conditioned. What??

It really was a happy sight as dozens and dozens of dogs and cats were finding their forever home with a new family. This was the free Dog (and cat) Days of Summer mega adoption event sponsored by the Texas Humane Heroes out at their facility in Leander. This event was part of an attempt by Texas Humane Heroes to help save the lives of a planned 1,500 adoptable animals this summer. The ASPCA and Rachel Ray are holding a contest this summer to see if 50 shelters around the United States will be able to beat their own previous records at adopting out their shelter population.

It’s called the $100K Challenge.  The hope is that the chance of winning prize money for the shelter will inspire the shelter’s staff and supporters to greater efforts. If the adoption efforts are successful, shelters like Texas Humane Heroes are awarded prize money to help support their ongoing work. It’s a great idea. More pets get homes and more lives are saved. [Read more…]

Your Neighbors Making Life Better For Blue Dogs

Blue Dog RescueMy mom was an animal person. If you have read any of my past posts, it is likely that you are familiar with her. If you have read all of my past posts, you probably know her pretty well. She was amazing. She was a through and through animal person, and it seemed that her enthusiasm for taking care of misfit and outcast critters was inexhaustible.

I often imagined that there was some kind of “word of snout” underground network that informed lost cats, dogs and other homeless critters that the lady on Crow Drive with the funny accent was good for food, drink and a little shelter. She never turned any animal away and would post advertisements in the Waco Tribune until she found someone to take them home. That’s a fact. She was a one-woman animal rescue service.

While I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, I don’t remember there being any sort of organized rescue of abandoned and mistreated animals. If there had been one, mom would have either known about it or would have been involved. What did we do with all of those poor creatures in those days? Outside of the local animal shelter it was probably people like my mom that took up the slack. I guess the need grew and grew until the kindhearted among us had to do something to get help with the burden. I know there was nothing to spread the word in those days besides TV, radio, newspapers and word of mouth or snout. [Read more…]

Round Rock’s Shadow Cats – Past, Present and Future

Shadow Cats Cat RescueWell, this is the second part of an interview that I did with Shadow Cats’ Director of Sanctuary Operations, David Murphy. We had a great chat the first time and there was so much material that I thought a second post was right there under my nose. David and Jacki Quaile, a Board Member and Volunteer, gave me such a great amount of information on volunteer opportunities in that first interview, but there was so much more.

David also provided me with a lot of very interesting information on the past, present and future of Shadow Cats and on the tremendous amount of effort that has gone into making the sanctuary the remarkable place that it is. The vast majority of the information in this second video interview was not included in the first. While I was deciding on how to treat the remaining material, I wondered just how many of Shadow Cat’s friends and supporters really knew about how it got started and where it planned to go in the future. Shadow Cats really has a great story to tell and a great future to live out. Please watch the video to learn about Shadow Cats’ past, present and future.

The famously camera shy President and Founder of Shadow Cats, Sheila Smith, won’t go on camera to toot her own horn, but thank goodness that we have David Murphy who has an encyclopedic memory of past milestone events for which Sheila is responsible. This amazing woman has done so much to improve the quality of life for these forgotten and abused animals, and by doing so, she has improved the quality of all our lives as well. I am a happier person knowing someone like Sheila Smith exists. The equally selfless and devoted David Murphy also talks about the great future plans that Shadow Cats has to give cats with feline leukemia. [Read more…]

Georgetown’s Own – Bubba’s Beez Explains How It’s Done

Bubba's Beez Raw Honey Georgetown TexasI can’t really remember exactly what I was doing when I was fourteen. I vaguely remember countless hours puttering around Waco and Bellmead on my little Yamaha motorcycle and wishing I was sixteen so I could get a part-time job maybe sacking groceries. I really didn’t have a clue. Good Lord, I was fourteen.

A year or so earlier I talked my mom and dad into taking out a note on a motorcycle with grandiose promises of paying them back with all the money I would make throwing papers. After mowing lawns, that was pretty much the only job you could get when you were that young. The plan was water tight but reality was all full of holes. I was a terrible paper boy. My first month, I made a total of 10 dollars after I paid the Waco Tribune what I owed them and the note on my motorcycle was $40/month. After a few more months like that I threw in the towel. Mom and dad started to get a little concerned. This was 1974 and forty dollars was not chump change.

What a tough time for most kids – seriously. Personally, I couldn’t have felt more adrift if I had been on an iceberg in the ocean. It seemed like life was just a waiting game. I wouldn’t go through those years again for anything.

However, I just met a fourteen year old who is nothing like the ne’re-do-well that I was. Bubba Duke of Bubba’s beez is a man with a plan. His plan is to become a master beekeeper and he is well on his way. [Read more…]

Jackson Galaxy Visits Round Rock’s Shadow Cats

Shadow Cats Cat RescueMy mom, Marion Speasmaker, was a total, over the top cat lady. At one point she had quite a few kitties in her home and they were at all stages of temperament – at least toward us but not mom. Mom had a way with cats and could communicate with them in ways we just couldn’t understand.

She taught us a lot and her lessons prove true even today. One lesson she taught me was that when a cat is looking at you and then slowly blinks its eyes as you make eye contact, it is a sign of affection. She called these eye blinks “kitty kisses.” I was fine with that lesson. All my life, with all of my cats, I would try it out and it seemed to be true but, who knew?

One night I was watching, along with my family, Jackson Galaxy’s My Cat from Hell TV program on the Animal Planet network and I found out that mom was right all Jackson Galaxy Shadow Catsalong. Jackson was working with a difficult cat and the cat was hiding under a bed when Jackson did the eye blink thing with the cat. I couldn’t believe it. I jumped up from the couch and started yelling, “that’s what mom used to say.” My kids and my wife looked at me like I had three heads. After I explained the whole matter, they understood why dad got so excited and settled in to watch the rest of the show. [Read more…]

A Chance For You to Give Back – Round Rock’s Shadow Cats

Shadow CatsI truly believe that individuals can make a difference in society. Since periods of change such as the present one come so rarely in human history, it is up to each of us to make the best use of our time to help create a happier world.

– The Dalai Lama

We are all looking for that happier world, right? However, when we open the paper or we watch the news, we are bombarded by unhappiness on a daily basis. Some say this constant flood of bad news is making us all numb to all of the pain and suffering. I don’t feel that way. I think that deep down inside it makes us hunger for the opportunity to make a difference on a personal level but, what can we do?

We’re busy people. We are not only flooded by bad news, but we also feel we are painted into a corner by all of the other responsibilities we have. We have to work to feed ourselves and our families. We have to keep up our homes and care for those we love. Who has time to make a difference? Who am I that I can make a difference? [Read more…]

Author Gwen Cooper’s Book Tour Stops at Shadow Cats in Round Rock

Gwen Cooper and Homer the blind wonder cat at Shadow Cats in Round Rock TexasGwen Cooper, author of New York Times Best Seller Homer’s Odyssey – How I learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat, made a stop on her book tour at Round Rock’s Shadow Cats sanctuary last Friday evening.  She visited with her human and feline fans and broadcasted an internet reading of her most recent book, Love Saves the Day: A Novel.

Gwen was gracious enough to give me a little time on camera to talk about her new book and go into some detail about what all went into the writing Homer's Odyssey Gwen Cooper and Homer the blind wonder cat at Shadow Cats in Round Rock Texasof this sweet story. As Gwen mentions in the video below, this heart warming novel is about the challenging relationship between a daughter and her mom and how the main character, Prudence the cat, is able to help them restore their damaged ties.

Prudence, a rescue kitty, narrates the story.  Her insights into human behavior are just as entertaining as her confusion about just why people do the thing they do. The story is set in New York City which also adds greatly to the entertainment value. It is a great mix of mother/daughter turmoil and how Prudence is not only in the business of teaching them both life lessons, but also in the middle of her own struggle to make sense of the interesting things her humans do.

Gwen and her husband Laurence, who is accompanying her on the book tour, also spent a lot of time entertaining the Shadow Cats audience about the day to day experiences they both have with their blind rescue kitty Homer who is the subject of Gwen’s last book, Homer’s Odyssey. Homer is quite a character and, in spite of his blindness, leads Gwen and Laurence through many happy experiences ranging from how he gets along with his human and feline roommates to his eccentric tastes in food. [Read more…]