Can you help GVAWL by fostering a puppy or adult dog? Do you know someone who can? We have too many dogs and not enough foster homes! The puppies will most likely be adopted quickly, but in the meantime we’d like to get them out of the kennel and into a family situation to help with socialization. Call Debra at 970.209.7030 for more information. Thanks for your support!
We’re happy to report that Buddy has found a home! His new family has four children for him to play with. Buddy’s new mom says, “Buddy is doing great. He is definitely part of our family. We really do love him! What a great dog and we feel so lucky.”
General Lee was a hard case. While his background was a bit cloudy, it was painfully obvious that this beautiful, stately, white German Shepard had been mistreated – particularly by a man or men. He didn’t take to any strangers, but went out of his way to show his fear of men. Fortunately, he ended up at Critter Sitters in Gunnison, where the mostly female staff, headed by Jamee Venard Smith, began gently working to build his trust.
The Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League was contacted and volunteers began spending time with the dog as well. It was decided that General Lee would require an inordinate amount of time, patience, an abundance of love and socialization, and some serious training, of course. Critter Sitters committed to providing him a home for as long as necessary, even if that meant for the rest of his life. After some months, GVAWL put him up for adoption with the condition that all of his caregivers would have to agree on the adoption. It had to be perfect.
A number of interested parties came and went, but none were willing to put in the time required to gain General Lee’s trust.
Enter Henry Woods and Cinda Rabon of Lake City. Henry had a background with abused German Shepherds, and Cinda’s business involves animal care, so they took on the project with experience, commitment, and compassion. After numerous trips to Gunnison to spend time with General Lee, it was decided they should do a “trial run” to see how the dog would do in a new home with Cinda’s numerous other doggie friends, including her tiny little itsy bitsy terrier! Well, as the photos clearly show, Lee is now a full-fledged member of the household and a great friend of the Lake City canine community. Henry and Cinda have provided a safe, loving, forever home for a dog that had a very rough start in life. Thanks to them, General Lee, the “hard case” is softening up quickly.
Two Gunnison High School students, Pascual Ramos and Max Cozadd, are selling homemade wooden boxes and picture frames. This project is for a civics class, and they will be donating the money they raise to GVAWL. The items are made from poplar, walnut, cherry, and ash. Boxes are $15-20, 4″x6″ frames are $10, and 8″x10″ frames are $15. To place an order or to customize the boxes or frames, contact Pascual at 970.376.5180 or Max at 970.306.3961.
A new thrift store has opened in Gunnison, and a portion of all proceeds will go to the Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League. Paws-Abilities Thrift Store is privately owned and operated, and is located at 234 North Main Street, directly across from the Boom-A-Rang.
Paws-Abilities is accepting clean (no stains), quality clothing, furniture, and housewares in good condition. Your donations will help support the Animal Welfare League.
Be sure to shop there and donate there! Store hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM.
|Margaret and her daughter Mary helping out at the recent spay/neuter clinic|
Everyone with the Gunnison Animal Welfare League was saddened to lose a devoted friend and active supporter. Margaret McLeod passed away at her home in Gunnison on February 28, 2012, at age 75.
Margaret had great passion for animals and people in need and she devoted herself tirelessly to these causes. She was an active supporter of GVAWL for 8 years, and served on the Board of Directors. Many members of the Gunnison community remember Margaret helping with GVAWL activities such as the Farmers Market booth, the Sugar Plum Festival, the Fur Ball, and the placement of GVAWL donation boxes in local businesses, to name only a few. Margaret helped with nearly all of GVAWL’s activities and fundraisers, assisting in any way that she could.
As her health began to fail her, Margaret said that she wanted to continue to work for GVAWL, as it gave her purpose. Her husband of over 50 years, Don McLeod, succumbed to an illness in June 2011. Through his failing health and after his death, Margaret continued to attend board meetings and do her GVAWL work in the community. Margaret continued her work for GVAWL until only days before she passed.
She was an inspiration to all of us, and a good friend to many.
A memorial service will be held for Margaret on Saturday, April 14, at 2:00 p.m. at Baab Hall at the Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, 307 West Virginia Avenue. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Hospice of the Gunnison Valley or to the Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League.
“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” -John Muir
Amanda Graham attaches a leash to Shadow’s collar, and takes him to meet her newest client. The rest of the staff at the Center for Mental Health, where Amanda is the Executive Director and a licensed professional counselor, smiles at the pair. At the beginning of the workday, staff members and the friendly, sociable Aussie mix had gone through their usual greeting ritual. Now, on the leash, Shadow knows he is on the job.
Shadow came to GVAWL in 2008, and was close to being “unadoptable” because of some behavior problems. However, when he first saw Amanda on Valentine’s Day 2009 in the lobby of Critter Sitters, he leaped into her lap and wiggled all over. Amanda had found the dog she’d been looking for since losing her beloved basset mix, Lucy, several months earlier.
Amanda had looked for a dog that she could train to assist in psychotherapy, but she was not going to force any dog into that mold. Her goal was to bring forth Shadow’s true self. Shadow was not exactly fearful, but was extremely cautious, and flinched at sudden movements. He retreated from most people, yet was alert and curious. Amanda worked with him in 15-minute stretches, day in and day out, as they went through the A.K.C. Canine Good Citizen program. Then, working with a dog behaviorist in Grand Junction, and with the cooperation of her co-workers and clients, she did more intense work socializing Shadow. In this year and a half, Shadow learned to overcome his fears and build trust with people other than Amanda, and his self-confidence grew.
The human-animal bond is in itself therapeutic. Shadow and Amanda have taken that bond to the professional level. Shadow is a “therapy dog,” registered with Therapy Dog International. To become registered, an animal must pass ten “tests,” such as interacting with people in wheelchairs, on crutches, or experiencing seizures. Shadow calmly passed his tests.
According to Amanda, Shadow’s learning process is precisely what makes him so effective in helping her clients learn how to overcome fears and to build trust. Shadow is friendly and bonds with everyone; his unique effect lies in his calm, purposeful approach to establishing relationships. He truly does understand that building relationships is about building trust.
Amanda’s perceptive abilities and learning experiences have also shaped this duo’s manner of therapy. The bond humans and animals can share is essential to Amanda. She spent six years as Associate Director of the Orange County (North Carolina) Animal Protective Society, where part of her job was as animal-cruelty investigator. (She prosecuted the state’s first case of felony dog fighting.) Her encounters there with troubled people led her to pursue graduate work in counseling, which led to her current career.
Psychotherapy and animals are the perfect fusion for Amanda. Through the Center for Mental Health, she and Wendy Buckhanan facilitate Horses for Change, an equine-assisted psychotherapy program in Gunnison. Amanda is certified by EAGALA, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. Amanda and Wendy work with clients who typically see results in five to seven sessions – a “brief therapy.” Part of the reason for this success is because of the particular nature of horses: as a prey species, they are especially perceptive of humans’ thoughts and emotions, and are honest in their responses to those perceptions.
With all animal-assisted therapy, success comes about because of the immediate, tangible nature of working with live beings, and through the power of the human-animal bond. As Amanda and Shadow go to meet a client, they are immediate, tangible proof of that bond. With all their being, they use the bond to make many, many lives better.
The Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League is in immediate need of a volunteer willing to take on the role of Cat Foster/Adoption Coordinator. Experience not necessary, but a love of animals is a must. One year commitment requested. Please call 970.641.1173 and leave a message if interested.
Our cat kennels are full! We have nearly 20 cats that need permanent homes. Caring for this many cats is pushing our limits on our space and budget, and the cats desperately need homes. If you are interested in adopting, view our cats here.
We also want to expand our Cat Foster program, and we need your help. Can you provide a temporary home for a cat while we search for her forever family? Some cats do not thrive in the kennel environment, and your home may make the cat more adoptable to potential families. Fostering a cat in your home will also free up space to house an additional cat in the kennel.
Interested in helping? Contact the GVAWL office at 970.641.1173, email us at email@example.com, or call our adoption coordinator at 970.275.9235.
You Made it Great!
All funds raised by the Fur Ball will benefit
the Gunnison Animal Shelter and Adoption Center
If the cat Minou could talk, she would say, “I am so thankful that this wonderful woman on Ohio Creek adopted me.” Now Minou purrs and basks in the sun on the window ledge in Pam Christian’s barn. “I needed a companion for Junior, my 10-year old orange cat, so I looked on the GVAWL website for a cat,” Pam explains. After email exchanges and looking at several cats with Intake Coordinator, Cheryl Dandel, Pam decided on a dark grey female cat named Minou. “I knew she was an older cat and very shy,” Pam said. Historically, older cats are harder to adopt out than kittens and younger cats. Minou, for example, had been in GVAWL care for 18 months waiting for a home. Minou came to the Animal Welfare League with less than optimal odds for adoption success: she was an older cat, at eight years of age, and she was not very social. GVAWL volunteers spent time with Minou to help her become more socialized, which helped some, but she still had a hard time with new people. On the positive side, Minou had been spayed by her previous owners. In spite of her age and shyness, upon meeting Minou, Pam knew she was a good match for her situation and for Junior.
Pam admits that it was only recently in her life that she owned cats. She finds them fascinating, and now declares herself a cat lover. Pam worries about her cats in the large open landscape that surrounds her home, and prefers the cats to be safe in her barn at night. Hence, she feeds them a special treat of wet cat food in the evening, training them to come into the barn at night. Pam rings a cow bell towards dusk, and Junior and Minou come running, hopping through the cat door for their tasty dinner, where Pam locks the barn door behind them. “It really works,” she laughs. Pam finds herself visiting her barn more often, and enjoys watching Minou becoming more comfortable with Pam and her family. “Minou is becoming less shy and more comfortable every day.” “There is a special compassion from people who choose to adopt an older cat,” observes Cheryl, “and mature cats can be an excellent choice for adoption.” Minou and Pam would agree.
In the beginning, it was not so clear that this would be a success story. Last July, the Animal Welfare League received a report that at least five dogs, abused and mistreated, had been abandoned west of town. Volunteers Drew Nelson, Kelli Lightfoot, and Deborah Callihan jumped into action; through tireless effort, they managed to find and capture the dogs. All of the dogs were malnourished and in need of veterinary care, with wounds, infections, and parasites.
Six months after the rescue, the Animal Welfare League is happy to report that the dogs have all found homes. Comments from the adoptive dog owners describe their dogs as “well-trained and living a comfy life” and “very spoiled and sweet,” along with “she has great energy and is living life!” One of the dogs is even in training to become an avalanche rescue dog, quite a turnaround.
Many thanks to the community for donating approximately 60 percent of the costs incurred for the initial vet care and boarding of the five dogs. Special thanks go to Town and Country Animal Hospital for veterinary care, and to RoShamBo for donating color posters asking for foster and adoptive homes. Foster caregivers who went above and beyond the call of duty include Mike Jackson, who fostered two of the dogs, and Robin Wehmeyer, who cared for one of the more socially challenged dogs. Drew Nelson opened his home to all five dogs for immediate shelter, and offered free obedience training for all the dogs.
The board and volunteers of the Animal Welfare League extend gratitude and thanks to those who provided forever homes to Titan, Ruckus, Rose, Daisy and Jake.
Whether you have adopted from GVAWL, another organization, or have a different kind of story to tell, we would love to hear from you! Using the form below, please tell us your adoption stories, animal stories, rescue stories, or anything you would like to share about your experiences with animals. We do plan to feature some of the stories you send us on this website and in our newsletters, so it is possible that we may contact you by email for images or other information.
THANK YOU FOR SHARING!