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December 21, 2010 > Ohlone Humane Society: A gift of... pawprints in the sand

Ohlone Humane Society: A gift of... pawprints in the sand

By Nancy Lyon

As someone who doesn't "do" malls, buying Christmas gifts online not only makes it more convenient, but also a lot easier to procrastinate. After all, you can always put it off a few more days with the holiday seeming weeks away and deal with it a bit later. Well, It's a "bit later" than I thought and time to scramble... but for what?

Giving gifts is a tricky thing. How often have you given something to a loved one only to have them smile, say it's just what they wanted... and it's never seen again?

While reading my email pondering what could I buy that would arrive on time, I happened to come across an unsolicited inspirational message. I was just about to delete it when a phrase popped into view about something called The Kindness Movement. A simple but very true quote attributed to the legendary Aesop caught my attention, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

It gave me pause to think about the real gifts of this year.

When working with animals, you also work closely with people - the fate of innocent animals often hinges on dealing with human problems, failures, loss and most importantly the kindness and compassion of the many good people who come forward to help both. There have been many instances of acts of unheralded kindness; two recent ones come to mind.

As an online visitor to a group of cat-caring folks who give their time, money and other resources to help homeless and abandoned felines, a situation arose where the fortunes of a senior lady whose mission to care for and neuter feral cats had taken a serious turn for the worse. Ill health and the loss of her income when she had to leave her job to care for her dying mother had left her with no money to care for herself, let alone the dozens of hungry cats that had become her charges. Unable to pay her rent, she was about to become as homeless as the cats that depended on her for survival.

But never doubt the goodness that exists in the world. A wonderful woman from Castro Valley, also a cat caretaker stepped forward to bring together volunteers to find solutions to help the woman keep a roof over her head, and feed her and the cats. This is an ongoing effort and from this tragic situation a new group has formed to keep the cats from starving and help the woman get on her feet again.

And recently, a much neglected older Husky mix was surrendered to the Fremont Animal Shelter when the owner could not provide care for him. He was covered with large patches of raw skin and hair loss all over his body. He had been kept in a dog crate in a dark shed for years and only briefly let out to eat and relieve himself. The officer that confiscated him was so moved by his plight that she took him home hoping to find options for him. Unfortunately, after a period of time she was forced to bring him to the shelter. She said that he was a great dog with a strong spirit in spite of his ordeal.

When another OHS volunteer and I were walking the kennels and we first saw him, our reaction was "Oh my God." Anger was next but that wasn't going to help. Everyone at the shelter moved into action and after multiple emails, phone calls with the clock running out because of the crowded kennels. Then, the hoped for answer came, the amazing people from an already overburdened NorSled Northern Breed Rescue came forward to take on what they knew to be a "project dog."

They renamed him True Blue for his courage and undying spirit of hope after years of dark imprisonment. They report that he is recovering, gaining much needed weight and more hair and best of all, he has learned Joy! He is making up for the lost years, his favorite pastime is playing like a pup, and he loves everyone - people, dogs and even cats. Pictures of him running free on the beach with the other rescue dogs, leaving huge pawprints in the sand are food for the soul.

There are so many untold stories of hope and recovery like that of "True" and of people reaching out to help each other and animals; these are the real gifts of this season. Pass it on.

"Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on; 'Twas not given for thee alone, Pass it on; Let it travel down the years, Let it wipe another's tears. Pass it on."
- Rev. Henry Burton

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