Tag Archives: rescue

A Life in the Wild

A Life in the Wild: George Schaller's Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts Focusing on one scientist, whose work has brought him around the world, A Life in the Wild: George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts is less of a biography, then a profile of a life’s work. From his early fascination with birds, Schaller’s work took him from Alaska to high Tibet, through dangerous areas of Africa. During all of these visits, he was not just expanding knowledge of remote habitats and species, but he was pioneering modern practices of animal observation and conservation.

Few children realize that prior to the last 50-60 years, most naturalists and scientists studied species primarily through capturing and killing them. George, and others of his time, set out to study live animals within their natural environments, and in doing so they discovered the importance of the interrelated species and ecosystems within which the particular species of interest lived. Out of this realization grew the knowledge that to save these threatened species was to save the environment they lived in, to preserve these relationships. Much of Schaller’s work went directly to providing the evidence to support the establishment of national parks and conservation areas world wide, beyond which he spoke out against practices that he could see threatening the species he studied.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the broad scope of Schaller’s work, covering so many different species and areas of the world. It showcases the different challenges faced by different environments and political climates. Gorilla’s in the Congo and Cloud Leopards in the Pakistan/Afghanistan/China/Russia are each in dangerous and frequently contested territory. The chapter on Schaller’s work with pandas in China was particularly interesting because of the politics involved, but more showcasing how even a country that desires to save a species can fail when they don’t take into account the importance of the animal within its environment and community.

This book is a good companion to the scientists in the field series, as it provides the same sort of insight into the process of science, only from a longer term and larger scope. Certainly there is a strong conservation/environmentalist perspective to this book–it isn’t science just for science’s sake. But it is a great starting point for students interested in science, conservation, or animals.

One small criticism I have is that I wish the book had more pictures, particularly of Schaller himself. I know the challenge of writing a biography of a living person, who might prefer attention be given to his work and the animals. But part of the fascination of this book is discovering this man and his and his family’s experience with the animals. Plus, from the few little pictures there are of him, he was kind of cute (may still be, but I didn’t see any recent pictures!)

Non Fiction Monday is here, check out the other great books


Did I do Any Good in the World Today…

So today I went out to the pet store to volunteer with the group I attended the meeting with a couple of weeks ago. Even though they had a lot of talk at the meeting about liability, there was no actual volunteer application or information gathering. So even if a dog I help find a home turns into a monster, I figure they can’t find me to sue me. Though after today this seems less important.

This Patriot the heeler mix up for adoption.

I arrived at the store a little before my 1 p.m. shift, and there were six crates and a wire pen set up. There were only three dogs though, two in crates and one on a lead. The large healer/akita mix was handed to me right as I walked up. An exuberant and happy dog, Patriot was smart and walked well on the leash. At first I thought that the group had already adopted out half of the dogs, but it turns out an accident on the freeway had left one volunteer with six dogs stranded in traffic.

photo of Min Pin by levantarmialma, sadly Freedom does not have a profile on the internet.

As the afternoon wore on, and the dogs finally showed up, we had a lot of people come and visit the dogs. I used my best library promoter voice to encourage people to adopt the adorable MinPin I took on, once she arrived. We walked the dogs through the store, showed off how well behaved and adorable they were, and we were turned down over and over again. After four hours in the store, we adopted one dog to a store employee and a cat from a different rescue group.

So since all but one of the animals we brought out went back to the shelter, was my time wasted, did I do any good today?

While walking around with an overweight MinPin balanced on my hip, I thought about this, while I talked with dozens of people I pondered if there wasn’t another purpose to our presence in the store. There are two parts to this.

This little boy was the only dog that found a new home today.

First, adoption events like this help educate people about the availability of adoptable dogs in shelters and with rescue groups. While the dogs we had at the store today might not be a good match, or now might not be a good time for bringing a dog home, we are spreading the news that there are dogs in shelters that are well behaved, healthy, and in need of homes. Several times I pointed people towards Petfinder.com as a good resource to find a dog of a specific breed. As I told people over and over about little Freedom, who was spayed, up-to-date on her shots, house trained, good with kids, dogs, cats, crowds, and just needed a little diet, I was really telling them that there are good dogs out there in shelters. I hope that my words will help them to choose to adopt next time.

Second, for four hours today little Freedom had just that: freedom. She was out of her crate nearly the whole time, carried or walked around the store, and loved on by everyone she met. Unlike some of the dogs, she was relaxed and happy, and would literally jump into the arms of the volunteers. To her, being out of the shelter, being with people, was a gift we can give her. Even though I can’t take her into my home (city law limits houses to two dogs), I can give her attention and affection. Many of the other dogs also benefited from socialization, affection, and exercise. It is true that these events can be stressful, but for many of the dogs the benefit out weighs the harm.

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet Day So, I think I will continue to spend some small part of my time trying to help the dogs in some little way, and hopefully helping people see that there are good dogs out there to bring home. And I’ll encourage all of you to look on Petfinder for your next pet!

Adopt the Internet

Remmy is at the same shelter Oscar came from, poor guy needs a new home. See him and others at: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/18817763

Today is the 15th of March and Petfinder.com is celebrating its 15th year. Petfinder is one of the most amazing things to happen to the pet rescue business. I know this from personal experience. Two years ago, when I was preparing to move across the country and buy a house, I poured over Petfinder, looking at all the adorable dogs up for adoption. One of my criteria when selecting a house was that it have a dog friendly, preferably fenced back yard, so I could adopt a dog. The house I bought had a fully fenced back yard, is on a tree lined street, where nearly every home has at least one dog. On walks around the neighborhood, dogs being walked outnumber people two to one.

Lilly is from the rescue I adopted Meya from, they do a lot of good work. Check out Lilly and the other pets they have available at: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/16885776

After only a week in my new house, before I even bought any furniture, I was online pouring over the Petfinder ads. I was certain it would take a lot of looking to find the perfect dog for me, but that was ok, because this was a big decision and I wasnt sure what kind of dog I wanted. On that first Saturday in my new home, I saw a face I couldn’t resist. A black dog simply covered with curls, with a big grin on her face. The note said that dogs from this rescue were always at the local Petco on Saturday afternoons. Well, I was sure she wouldn’t still be there, after all who could resist that face! But it seemed like a good chance to see what dogs were available, and I had to go grocery shopping anyway.

So imagine my surprise when Meya was still there, and I was able to adopt her on the spot.

Petfinder helped me adopt my first dog, and I hope that it can help a lot of other people to find the perfect dog for them. I think petfinder is the perfect resource for those who want to get a specific type of dog, or who don’t like the thought of going to dozens of different shelters to look for that perfect dog or cat. Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet Day

Oscar the Grouch

Oscar the evening after being adopted, looking shell shocked.

“You really don’t want me to take this one out of his cage,” was how the animal control worker introduced me to the dog, now called Oscar. All teeth, the small brown dog jumped and barked frantically, biting the air like he was trying to catch flies. “Owner surrender,” the agent informed me, “not good with kids, and doesn’t like to be alone. You’d be better off looking at another dog.” Maybe I’m just obstinate, and don’t like to be told no, or maybe there was something in that furry ball, but I insisted they take the dog out. Out of the cage Oscar danced around, sniffing for treats and licking my hand. Quickly making friends with Meya, my poodle mix, Oscar wormed his way into our hearts.

While Oscar quickly made himself at home, he existed in a state of panic when left. For weeks, I would arrive home to find bloody paw prints across the floor and streaks of blood on the door as he injured himself trying to dig out of crates, the kitchen, or the basement. A one dog hurricane, Oscar’s fear and anxiety elicited sympathy and dread, and resulted in a frantic trip to the vet. Fortunately, an understanding vet prescribed anxiety medications that calmed the storm, and allowed Oscar to accept behavior modification training.

Now, a year later, Oscar walks past me out the door on my return home with only a brief grin. No longer taking medicine for his anxiety, Oscar’s personality shines. Slightly naughty, Oscar’s grin delights, earning him the distinction of favorite dog from my friends and family. Even though he still struggles with his fear of very small children and any dog larger than him, he is no longer the dog no one wants.

Noticed the scratched door frame, Oscar's handiwork!

Meya Mine

Meya moved in with me a week after I moved into my new house, and two days before I started this new job. My new house had a fenced yard, which just begged for a little dog. The Petco was hosting an adoption event and I thought I’d just stop in to look at the dogs, I’d visited petfinder.com and had seen that they had a number of small dogs. Of course, once I stopped into the store a black furry little dog stole my heart. She was 1.5 yrs or so, bouncy and supposedly house trained. I put in adoption papers on the spot, beating out another family who wanted to get their hands on her adorableness. It was a good thing I did, because when I came back from the ATM the rescue group said they’d had another two families asking about her. Here she is exhausted after the adoption event:

That was almost two years ago, and I don’t regret a second of adopting her. I’ll share more later about our journey with allergies, behavior issues, and her slow loss of sight.