My poor husband
My husband knew what he was getting himself into when he married me. Mostly. I did use to work for him. I like to remind him of that periodically when he looks like his head is going to pop off and roll around on the floor at something I’ve done or have suggested that we do. He really does take most of it in stride and it certainly expands his world a bit.
A few years back I asked him to participate in the annual Point in Time homeless count that is conducted nationally on the same day. The project sends volunteers out into the homeless areas to get a feel for how many are homeless in their community and try to understand the root cause of the homelessness to develop programs to fix the issues. As my daughter is one of the coordinators of that project for the Snohomish County area, fully supporting her career and social issues is extremely important to me. Let’s just say, it was not quite how he expected his shift in learning about homelessness would go. That’s a story for another day.
Anyway, I do animal rescue. Sometimes I do people rescue too as I’ve had 6 different friends or families live with me in various homes throughout the years. I’ve never had a great deal of money, but I had space and want to help in whatever ways I can. That can look like people living in my family room, cats living in my bonus room, bottle feeding newborn kittens or adopting older dogs and loving their presence until the end and holding them as they pass. Empathy and caring for things that are more vulnerable is what my children know because it’s what they lived growing up. Sometimes, there are things you know you got right in this world. My girls and their enormous hearts, that I got right.
The most common form of rescue work for me though, by and large, is kittens. I am the cat whisperer. Ferals, newborns, homeless…but mostly kittens of any kind. I will tame the wild ones, teach them all to be very dog like and send them out to their new homes pretty freaking confident. They are all fixed and have full series of shots and worming. Planned Parenthood in this hood baby!! I am currently sitting at almost 200 foster kitties under my belt. This information will be important in a few…lol.
When we decided to travel, volunteering in communities that we were going to spend a bit of time in was very important to me. Who we are and how we support the neighborhoods where we exist matters. If we are aren’t looking out for one another in the smallest of matters, and in the smallest of creatures – then we aren’t minding our higher purpose.
Pothounds in Grenada
I was lucky enough to meet Jenny while I was in Grenada. Jenny owns the local group Pothounds against Pregnancy. Also known to the local vet school as PAP. Pothounds are what the local mutt dogs are called. They mostly tend to be short haired, brown toned dogs with long tails and good natures. Jenny has been working with the local stray dog population for almost two decades and in the past decade has really been partnering with St George’s University and their vet school program. SGU students are one of the few Caribbean island vet schools that always have live patients to practice spay/neuter surgeries on.
Jenny and SGU organize health clinics around the island that have donated supplies from dog supply companies in the US. I am sure part of the effort at donating is getting these kids associated with their name as a company in hopes that they will use their supplies at the future offices they will open someday. The animals get a basic examination, shots, wormed and urgent/minor needs seen. Nutrition is discussed. A lot. The number of malnourished dogs seen down here is heartbreaking, but apparently much less than before. Jenny has spent 20 years on this island of 133 square miles that has crushing poverty, helping to educate the people about how to take care of their animals. Dealing with idea of some that they want their animals lean because that’s how Olympic champions are, so they only feed their dogs every two weeks. Or they do not want to get their dog neutered because dogs need to do what dogs do. Unfortunately, this island has a sexually transmitted cancer that can kill the dogs if not treated.
Taking care of the hairballs
They also sign up dogs to be spayed and neutered for free at the school. They will get picked up from their homes, “fixed” and returned home in the course of 4 days. So we sign up people at these events to help fill the class schedule of about 50 surgeries a week. We signed up 91 dogs for surgeries at the last clinic I helped at in September out of about 250 animals that were seen that day.
As you travel anywhere near the main areas of St George’s and Port Louis and Prickly Bay, you see stray or “community” dogs as they are often referred to. They belong to no one and everyone helps take care of them. It’s sad, but not as overwhelming of an issue as I expected.
And then we travelled north for a day.
Still so much work to do
The hard work that Jenny has put in around the St George’s area becomes glaringly apparent. Several stray/skinny dogs on every single block in the town north. They were everywhere and it was overwhelming and heartbreaking. Luckily, I know that as I write this today, on November 16th…Jenny is running a health clinic in that town. I have no idea how she doesn’t get overwhelmed, but she will make a dent and she will make the quality of life better for every animal she comes in contact with. She’s one woman who has made a quiet and profound effect on the entire country. I am absolutely in awe of the impact that she has made on the college, the communities and to the animal welfare in general.
She also has many rescue animals she has taken in on her farm up in the mountains, including a donkey and a pig. She farms, she grows coffee, she eats Indian food with her British counterparts, she sails and she saves dogs. I am more than a little bit in awe of what a dynamo this tiny little Brit is and being able to help her in any small way has been an absolute honor. I posted on the fb group that I was setting up a fund to help her out. Lean times for her little group currently and she was dipping into her own funds, which becomes an ending issue for rescue groups. Thank you to all who generously donated, she was quite relieved at the short term support. I will continue working to support her with a new fb page, helping out with some fund raising ideas with the cruiser group down there.
There are goat sanctuaries that need help trimming hooves and brushing goats. Animals at shelters need snuggled and walked, or reading to shelter animals is great help for kids struggling with reading. Community gardens help homeless shelters provide fresh vegetables, cleanup on roadsides help the wildlife. Visiting with seniors adds life to everyone.
Go out and figure out a way to be a tiny hero in your community this month. It changes who you are and connects you with your neighbors in a way that only kindness can. And show the little people that watch you that being a superhero is easy – anyone can do it, no cape needed.
Peace, love and kibble-
Frankie and Henry