Wednesday, November 03, 2010

20 Years of Caring!

Hello Everyone!

I love this beautiful fall weather when I can once again enjoy the outdoors without feeling like I'm about to faint! I hope you are enjoying it as well. I have been barking at the vultures and the turkeys....the latter drive me crazy when they "gobble".

In case you haven't heard, this is a big weekend for the Foothills Shelter: it is their 20th Anniversary, and we are all very excited about it. I have even agreed to let the gals at Landrum Vet bathe me for the occasion!

From 11am - 2pm on Saturday, PLEASE come to the Open House at the shelter on Little Mountain Rd. There will be lots of fun things to do, including free food! Unfortunately, I have been told that there is a ten-foot no-Champ zone around the food. Sigh. There will be pony rides, obedience demonstrations, and fun and games for everyone. Santa will be there, posing for photos with you and your pets, and I expect I will let him have a photo op with me while I am there! Think I will fit in his lap????

There have been lots of improvements at the shelter for the animals, so make sure you see those, and of course, I will be there with my little friend and spokesdog-in-waiting, Moses....who by the way, is not so little anymore! He is quite handsome, although he has a long way to go before he is as fluffy and glorious as me.

While you are at the shelter, please stop by and visit the animals. We have lots of cats and dogs, and while they do need their very own homes, they would really appreciate a few minutes of attention from you. A few kind words, or a scratch under the chin or around the ears, can be heaven for these homeless ones.

At 5:00 pm sharp, the Po'Kitties Photo Contest Awards Ceremony and FHS 20th Anniversary Gala Celebration will begin at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. My dear, ADD friend Randy Grobe will be hosting the event, so it should go pretty quickly. Every year I say this, but the photos are extraordinary! They look so good hanging in that magnificent space. The reception following the Awards Ceremony will be spectacular -- I read the menu and have been drooling ever since. I guess this is why I am NOT invited to attend. But all of YOU are -- this celebration is open to the public.

The local business community has really stepped up to the plate and donated some truly great prizes -- wait until you see them! My humans have been bemoaning the fact that they are ineligible to win anything! The photo that wins "Best in Show" will also win a week in a 3 BR, 2 BA Florida vacation home with a private pool, courtesy of Debbie Arnold and Terry Cacioppo. Now THAT is a really cool prize!

We are hoping that Sheriff Hill will attend (if he is not busy with his official duties) and Dana says that the "Po'Kitties Cowboy" BETTER be there! I know from years of experience that when she speaks to ME in that tone of voice, I better do what she wants, and quickly. There will be lots of local luminaries, and although I will not be there to lend my star-quality, it will still be a fun evening for all.

And me? I'll be home, looking for trouble to express my displeasure at being left out. Just kidding. Maybe.



Friday, December 18, 2009

Santa Champ!

Yes, Champ, There is a Santa Claus!

As a really smart human ( yes there are a few) named Francis Pharcellus Church once wrote , "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy." (Had he known me, he would have used MY name instead!)

Santa Claus is coming to town this week and I am worse than any child! I know I am not supposed to pout (at least this week anyway) and I also know there are many animals less fortunate than I. But I really hope he comes down the chimney to see me and even as big a food monger as I am, I would still give him something to eat for his trouble. Although, maybe not cookies and milk.....I love cookies and milk.....

I am pretty sure I won't get everything I have asked for this year, as the list is long. (You knew it would be, right?) Not only is my list long, but it is probably more than even Santa can pull together. And I am not sure his eight reindeer could carry it either, but I bet they would try! (After all, reindeer who fly have got to have Attitude with a capital A! Like me!)

Here is my Christmas List:

~ I want a loving home for every homeless animal in our community (heck, in our whole country.....wait, make that the entire planet, and I want it for the humans too)
~ I want food for every animal, child, and older person -- OK, for everybody -- good, nourishing food (pizza is good; actually, pizza is better than good when I can manage to nab it, and let's not forget the Christmas cookies)
~ I want safe, potable water for everyone (see above, I guess we're talking about the whole world now, humans included)

OK, Santa, let's keep the flow going here....even though certain vets are among my favorite humans, and even though certain vet techs have become my personal servants (how sweet it is!), and even though I am forced to admit that "going to the vet" is a dreaded experience for me, I want all animals -- and humans -- to be able to see a vet (um, or a doctor) and to be cared for properly.
~ I want all dogs (and other beings) who are chained down to be set free
~ I want all cats (and other beings) who have no home to have food, water, and shelter
~ I want all animals and humans to be free from fear, from violence, and from needless
~ I want.....well, Santa, I could really make this list a long one if I keep going on in this vein! Fortunately, we have many Santas, large and small, in our community and in our world, who are working to make this a better place for all -- animals AND humans! We all need to remember that and to be grateful for the Santas in our lives.....I have quite a long list of Santas I know. If every one of us were to be a Santa for another being, what a wonderful world it would be!

"Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no CHAMPS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished." (Again, with thanks to Mr. Church)

With a nod to each of you Santas, from the bottom of my infinitely grateful Great Pyrenees heart, I wish you all the joys of the season, and most of all, I wish you Peace.



Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The LONG Road Home....

Fred and Madeline Clas, Ray and Cindy Norden as Fred leaves to drive Huey, Dewey, and Louie and five puppies to Wilmington, Delaware.

As I am sure most of you know, I am proud of my "Official Spokesdog" status at the Foothills Shelter. In that capacity, I would like to thank each person who donated their money, their time, their home, or their expertise to the animals at the shelter. Staff, donors, Board members, volunteers, foster caregivers, transporters, kitten feeders, dishwashers, dog walkers, feral colony caretakers, visitors, and everyone who put their spare change in the Foothills donation cans, as well as the businesses who let us put the cans there -- you all are literally life-savers for the animals. We are enormously grateful.

The purpose of my column today is to tell you about the Long Road Home. Each of the animals at Foothills has his or her own story; some happy, some not so good, and my friend, Lennie Rizzo, details many of them for you in his Special Cases column. I would like to tell you about how a community, our community, saved eight very special lives last week.

Last July, someone brought in three large, shy, unruly black pups, about four months of age. No one had taken the time to socialize these dogs, and it was difficult to manage them at the shelter, much less adopt them out. Enter Cindy and Ray Norden, two of the shelter's Fantastic Fosters. One phone call was all it took, and Cindy was at the shelter, leashes in hand, to lead these three lost boys (Huey, Dewey, and Louie, of course) out to her car and back to her farm, so that they could learn how to get along in polite society. Cindy and Ray are miracle workers and the most badly behaved dogs respond to their gentle training methods, becoming healthy, confident, and adoptable. The difference in their behavior was striking, even to me! Cindy returned them to the shelter, but no one came to adopt them, despite their delightful manners and sweet and hopeful faces. As the shelter became more and more crowded, Cindy and Ray took them back to their farm to give them just a little more time to find the perfect homes.

Kelly and Whitt Vinesett, another of the shelter's Fantastic Fosters, began by fostering -- wait for it -- EIGHT puppies (oh Kelly, say it isn't so!) but, because the shelter was plumb full of puppies, five of them had not been adopted. Dana began networking, and a rescue up in Connecticut offered to take them, since they had a long waiting list for lab mix puppies.

The rescue put pictures of the five puppies on their website ( and agreed to put Huey, Dewey and Louie's photos up too, just in case someone might want to adopt one of these three lovely dogs. And lo and behold -- a wonderful man saw their photos and decided that all three would be the perfect addition to his family! He filled out his application and his references were checked, and he was approved to adopt Huey, Dewey, and Louie! But one problem remained to be could the shelter get all eight pups up north?

Ta-da! Fred Clas saw shelter staff member Angie Yates' plea in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, and volunteered to be a Terrific Transporter. He agreed to drive up to Delaware to meet the rescue, and to take all eight pups with him! Whew! That is one trip I am glad I did not have to make! Fred, you are now officially my hero! So Kelly, Cindy, Ray and the eight pups met Fred in the Ingles parking lot in Landrum at 6 am one chilly morning last week (see photo). Fred's wife, Madeline, was there to see them off, but she said that unfortunately, there just wasn't enough room for her to go along. (Quick thinking, Madeline!) After a flurry of goodbyes from the Fantastic Fosters, Fred and the pups were off!

Following a traffic jam of several hours (whoa, better you than me, Fred), they arrived and met the rescue lady, along with Huey, Dewey, and Louie's new family. These sweet dogs knew instantly that they had a permanent home with a wonderful new family! The other five puppies traveled with the rescue lady to Connecticut -- and they have each been welcomed into new homes where they are loved and wanted! It is a very, very happy ending to what could have been a very sad story. Word has it that Huey, Dewey, and Louie's new owner is so happy with them that he is considering training all three of them to be Therapy Dogs! WOW! I'm sure they'll take after their Uncle Champ and be "simply the best!"

So my hat, if I had one, would be off to Ray and Cindy, Kelly, Angie, Fred, Dana, and the rescue, for ensuring such a happy ending! And we have happy endings every day, thanks to all of you. You know who you are, and I thank each of you from the bottom of my great big pyrenees heart, We are very fortunate to live in a place that has people like you!

Have a happy Thanksgiving, and save a little turkey for me!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Cats, Starcats, Gully Street Cats and the Po'Kitties Reception October 16th

I am available if you want to adopt me!

Friday, October 16, is National Feral Cat Day! So it is incumbent upon me (or so I am told) to write something about "CATS". As you know, I live with a number of cats, some of whom I like more than others....but seriously, some of my best friends are cats! (Well, sort of, anyway!)

One of the things I want to remind you about is the Awards Ceremony for the 2009 Po'Kitties All Pet Photo Contest -- which is October 16th! I have seen a few of those photos and they are amazing! Wine and light refreshments will be served beginning at 5:00 pm, and the ceremony will begin at 7:00 pm. My good friend, Randy Grobe, has promised to host the event. I have unfortunately been banned because of my table-surfing habits, and I am told that the food and drink is only for humans. Rats! But bring your family and friends to see these phenomenal photos anyway! The photos remain on display through the weekend, on Saturday from 11-4 and on Sunday from 1-4.

By the way, one of my humans is featured along with Po'Kitties in Debra Halborn's just-released book, "Greetings from the Starcat Cluster". Debra will be signing her book at the Awards Ceremony for the Po'Kitties Photo Contest tonight! A portion of the proceeds from tonight's sales will benefit Po'Kitties, so please, as you are oohing and aahing over the photos, visit Debra's table and buy an autographed copy of "Greetings from the Starcat Cluster". It is one of my personal favorites.... except, Debra, how about "Greetings from the StarDog Cluster, featuring Champ, the Therapy Dog" as your next creative endeavor? A sure-fire best-seller, in my opinion.

Which brings me to another Big Event: the Free Cats-and-Kittens promotion! Yes, for a limited time only, Foothills Shelter is giving cats and kittens away absolutely free to approved homes! So, how is that better than the free kittens in someone's barn, or in the IWANNA? Well, "free kittens" aren't free -- they need shots, and they must be spayed or neutered. But the cats and kittens being given away by the shelter are already spayed or neutered, have had all of their shots, and are healthy and ready to go! The shelter would love a $10 donation to honor these awesome cats, but it is not required to adopt one -- or two! Come on down -- you'll find a potential soul-mate in every cage! And you will be saving a life at the same time!

I want to personally thank the big-hearted folks who have stepped up to the plate and have offered Barn & Board to the Gully Street Cats -- and to those whose donations will help these cats along their way. Thus far, places for 36 cats have been offered, and the cats will be relocated as soon as they're vetted. This is such good news, and, on behalf of Po'Kitties and FHS, we are very, very grateful. Barn & Board is still needed for some of the Gully Street Cats, as well as on a regular basis for some of our Po'Kitties, so if you've got a barn and are willing to provide regular food and water, call Dana at the shelter -- feed a cat, save a life!

I was recently asked what the difference is between a free-roaming cat and a stray cat. Good question! A free-roaming cat can be either a stray cat or a feral cat.

A free-roaming feral cat is a cat who has lived apart from humans for most, if not all, of its life. These cats are not adoptable as house cats, although feral kittens can often be socialized and adopted out if we get them right about the age of six weeks, when they weigh about 1.5 lbs. The majority of kittens entering shelters in this country are the offspring of feral cats, so it would really help to make sure that all feral cats are sterilized.

A free-roaming stray cat, one who once had a home and is tame, is ready to go to a new, loving home after a health check, shots, and a spay/neuter. These are cats who only want to love and be loved, and even I have to admit that they are pretty terrific! (Well, most of them, anyway!)

Our Po'Kitties program deals with both kinds of free-roaming cats -- the strays and the ferals. The cats get spayed or neutered, have a rabies vaccination, and the ferals get an ear tip so they can be easily identified as being in the program. The strays, who make themselves known pretty quickly, move to the shelter to be adopted out, and the ferals are returned to their colonies, all to live out their lives in peace. Which is something we wish for everyone.



PS -- Next time, I swear, I am writing about DOGS!!!

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Can you believe that?

Me either!

What's a dog to do?



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Shelter Animals Need YOU!

As most of you already know, I am the OFFICIAL spokesdog for the Foothills Shelter.....and if you have not been over there lately, you are missing out!

For one thing, my handsome photo is hanging in the doorway and I have to say, Shelley Dayton did an awesome job of capturing my good looks!

Come check it out! And take a look at all of our adoptable animals while you're there!

You know, I hear so often, from folks who genuinely care, that they do not want to take an animal to the "pound", or they are afraid if they take an animal to Foothills that it will be euthanized. I think everyone should understand what is really happening at the Foothills Shelter.

The folks there are working extremely hard to save every single one of the healthy, adoptable animals. This past month, the live release for dogs was close to 90%, with more than 80% for the cats. Do you realize how difficult it is to save all these animals that are brought in? Right now, they are only euthanizing animals that are aggressive to humans, or who are old with multiple health problems, or seriously ill or injured.

It would be a whole lot easier to just send them all to Heaven and not have to worry with where to put them, but that is not what the Shelter is about! The goal is to save ALL healthy, adoptable animals. But the question is -- where do you put them?

There are lots of options, but community support is necessary to utilize them. Animals are adopted directly from the shelter, or taken off-site to places like PetSmart, the Hospice Thrift Barn, and community gatherings for people to see and adopt. Some animals get into rescues from as far away as New York. Sometimes they need a little more time for just the right human to adopt them, and they get that time in foster homes, right here in our community. There is even a boarding program for emergencies when too many animals come in at one time, so we have somewhere to put the ones who haven't been adopted yet.

So...where do we begin and how can you help?

1. Volunteer for our Fantastic Foster program! Take an animal into your home for a few weeks. Help the animal by giving it regular food, love, and in the case of dogs, walks on a leash. This frees up the shelter runs for new admissions and socializes the animal, which makes it that much more adoptable.

2. Take a shelter animal to PetSmart with our On The Road program. Each animal that goes with this group needs a human to watch over it and show it to potential adopters. This only takes a few hours of your time.

3. Offer your time to be a Shelter Volunteer. They need folks to walk dogs, play with kittens, wash blankets and bowls, stuff envelopes occasionally, and more. Do you have a special talent? Tell the Volunteer Coordinator. They are working hard on this program right now!

4. Get your pets spayed or neutered! There is really no excuse not to do it now, with the incredible deals offered by Foothills Shelter. It is affordable for EVERY human in our community to have their pets sterilized.

5. Let them know if you are taking care of feral cats! The Po'Kitties program can help with making sure they are not reproducing endlessly!

6. If you have a pet, socialize that pet! Get dogs used to walking on a leash. Teach them not to jump or be too rambunctious. Help your cat learn to be petted and held. These are little things that make it easier on YOU as a pet owner, and if there ever comes a time when you need to bring the animal to the shelter, it makes them more adoptable. Yes, it takes time -- and patience, and work. Just like any other job you do. The good things don't always come easily. And it is unbelieveably sad to see a half-grown pup struggling desperately on the end of a catch-pole, because a caring human has not taught them how to act properly.

7. If you have to bring an animal to the shelter, know that they understand -- but also, please try to help them if they ask you to keep the animal for another night, or another week, while they work to find a place for that animal. They are overloaded and need all the help they can get. And if there is any way you might be able to keep your pet if you had some help, ask to speak with someone about it. Sometimes there are solutions that can be found to allow you to keep your beloved pet.

8. If you know someone who is bringing in puppies or kittens, please ask them to let the babies stay with their mothers until they are about eight weeks old. These babies learn critical behaviors during their first eight weeks, and need their mother's milk until their own immune systems are up and running. The shelter cannot take care of these tiny ones, many of whom need around-the-clock care, and they must go to foster homes. Some do not survive because they need what humans just cannot supply, and there are only so many foster homes available. It is a hard job hand-raising these babies, and so sad when they don't make it. Once the puppies and kittens are eight weeks old, and socialized to humans, the shelter can adopt them out easily.

9. They are trying to save the lives of some of the healthy cats and kittens who must be removed from a colony in Columbus. If you have a barn or shed, and are willing to share it, and food and water, with a healthy cat or two, call and ask for Dana!

10) And lastly, if you are in the market for a dog, cat, puppy or kitten, please consider adopting from the will not be sorry!

The folks at Foothills are doing so many wonderful things to save lives, and YOU can help! There is nothing more exciting as when you know that you have helped an animal get a new home, and a new life.....well, almost nothing.....

Please help us save the lives of the animals in OUR community!



Photo by Shelley Dayton