Santa Fe Scoop

Off-leash blog: Take time to count your animal blessings

In the midst of puppy training, correcting reactive-dog behavior and keeping my focus on Zach’s four-step, I often forget just how lucky I am to have three loving canines.

Every morning Zach, Bear and Jimmy remind me how important they are in my life. It’s usually Zach who’ll start the high-pitched yawn that tells me it’s time to get up. If he’s not on the bed, he’ll jump up and start stretching while doing his morning sing-a-song.

That’s Jimmy’s cue to do what puppies do best: try to draw attention away from Zach and onto himself. He does that by obnoxiously licking me awake until I either push him away or hide under the covers.

By this time, Bear, our timid-but-reactive girl, feels it’s time to get into the action. She’ll join the other two in rousting me out of bed, usually by tangling with Zach. In the end, we’re all wrestling in the covers, Zach gnawing at Jimmy, Jimmy futzing with Bear and me trying to get away with as few scratches and puppy bites as possible.

And that’s just the first few minutes of my canine-filled day.

I know that my experiences are not that unusual; almost every animal person has a similar story to share, whether it’s with a dog, cat, rabbit or llama. In the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to hear many of those stories and repeat some of my favorites with readers.

As Scoop celebrates its first anniversary, I continue to marvel at the unique bond some of us are lucky enough to share with animals. I was reminded of that recently when I was invited to Felines & Friends’ volunteer-appreciation lunch.
It didn’t take long for the stories to come trickling out of every volunteer, some of whom I profiled over the year.

Take Paris. At least three people told me about this foster cat, living illegally in a student’s dorm room. The cat refused or couldn’t relieve itself, so the foster parent was urged to take her to a veterinarian. But she had to do it clandestinely during daylight hours.

The foster parent very cleverly hid the cat in an emptied-out Dolce & Gabbana handbag. I’m not sure when the cat decided the handbag was the perfect litter box, but I imagine the scent was nothing like the upscale designer produces.

Then there was Morgan, the cat with attitude. This homeless cat actually ripped off his foster parent’s blouse. But, the woman told me, it was no big deal — he was just working out some issues.

The cat now has found a peaceful place at a large residence in Las Campanas, where, I’m told, he actually leads visitors around the home. The cat with attitude is now king of his kingdom.

I met about 30 volunteers that afternoon, a little less than half of the nonprofit’s 75 volunteers. Foster parents make up about 35 of that total, and took in 155 cats from the public last year, along with 48 cats and one dog from area shelters.

During that time, homes were found for 192 cats and the dog. The group, true to its core mission, helped with 130 low-cost sterilizations of pets and feral kittens.

Aside from volunteer foster families, Felines & Friends also has about 25 caregivers, those people who simply clean out cages and care for kittens at Petco, where the homeless cats of all ages are on display. In addition, there are 10 volunteers who answer telephones, transport kittens and equipment and help with adoptions from 1 to 4 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Cerrillos Road store.

As with every organization, volunteers are always needed. If you’re interested, pick up an application at Petco, or call 316-CAT1 or send an e-mail to

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