I read this quote this morning:

“Ever wonder where you’d end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash?” ~~ Robert Brault

That’s kind of how I feel right now. My volunteer work & this blog are the dogs and I’m just letting them take me wherever they want to go. I’m venturing into new territory that will help me reach my goals and that’s a good thing.

So why am I not pulling back on the leash? Because this is a journey I need to take. The more involved I get with volunteering at HSWC and the more I blog, the more I learn about animal rescue, blogging, non-profit organizations, dog/cat-related issues, people’s interests with respect to dogs & cats, etc. The list just goes on and on. Learning is a good thing, especially when it comes to learning new things that will help the animals at HSWC.

Here’s my plan. I want to transform my blog into a website that focuses on animal rescue & pet resources; hence, the new name — The site will still feature my blog, “XOXO & Cold Wet Noses,” but it will also include dog/cat-related articles & links or contact information for related businesses. I want the site to be exactly what the name implies — a resource site, a place where visitors can find a variety of dog/cat-related information without having to spend hours searching the Internet.

Along the way, I hope to earn a bit of money from my website by including relevant ads on my site. If I really want to shoot for the moon, then I hope that my blog will eventually result in the kind of six-figure income that Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett, co-authors of ProBlogger: Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, enjoy; however, I think I will be a bit more realistic & hope that it will bring enough income to realize a profit which I can then give to HSWC.

Wish me luck!

Location:Leander, TX


Digging for Buried Treasure

I decided to take a few days off from work last week just to refresh. I have fibromyalgia so I was still feeling the effects from last Saturday’s activities. Hopes of sleeping late Thursday morning were quickly abandoned thanks to my furry kids. I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be so I could’ve just stayed home & rested after the morning routine was done. Every morning it’s check food & water bowls and tend to the litter box before I enjoy my first cup of coffee.

One of the ironies of fibromyalgia is the more you rest the worse you feel so to the shelter I went to be a Kitty Concierge. I remembered Lindsey T.’s preferred routine from the previous Saturday. Fed the adult cats first — one scoopful of dry food per adult cat. Feed them first & they will leave you alone while you tend to other things, at least that’s the theory.

A client expresses her views on dirty litter boxes.

Once they were fed, it was time to clean the litter boxes. If you have a cat, then you know cleaning a litter box is not the most pleasant thing to do but it has to be done. Given my offbeat sense of humor, cleaning the litter box always makes me think of digging for buried treasure. Almost 20 litter boxes later, I found a lot of nuggets, just not the 14k kind. LOL! I replaced soiled bedding, cleaned any spills, swept each condo, mopped the walkway & gave all the cats fresh water. WHEW! Two hours later & I had worked up quite a sweat. This is one sure way to burn calories.

You might think I’d be ready to leave after that but you’d be wrong. After I finished with the adult cats, I went over to Kitty Kingdom and helped Layrana, one of the staff, with the kittens. Time to dig for more buried treasure.

Kittens are really cute, but you don’t realize how messy they can be when there’s 2 – 3 dozen who need attention until they find their forever families. I felt like a kid as I removed three fluffy white kittens from their cage and held them in my arms, savoring the feel of their softness. I could’ve held them for hours but there was work to be done so I gently placed them in a pet carrier. Once their cage was clean & they had fresh food and water, the fuzzy little snowballs were returned to their cage and I moved on to the next set of kittens. Two hours and several litter boxes later, we had the Kitty Kingdom practically sparkling like a jewel.

One of HSWC’s feline gems — RUBY

So being a Kitty Concierge will never make me rich, at least not in monetary terms. My reward comes from knowing that this kind of digging for buried treasure means getting to spend some quality time with the feline gems at HSWC and that’s just fine with me.

Get involved! Become a volunteer at your local shelter OR Click here for information on becoming a volunteer at the Humane Society of Williamson County.

Dog Humor

I joined a few animal-oriented groups on LinkedIn the other day and happened to come across another WordPress blog called “Anythingdogz’s Blog.” For anyone who loves dogs, this blog is a barrel of laughs and definitely worth reading. With the author’s permission, I am including one of Anythingdogz’s blog posts here.


I think most Dog owners can relate to these so called ‘Dog Rules.’ The dog is not allowed in the house.

    1. Okay, the dog is allowed in the house, but only in certain rooms.
    2. The dog is allowed in all rooms, but has to stay off the furniture.
    3. The dog can get on the old furniture only.
    4. Fine, the dog is allowed on all the furniture, but is not allowed to
      sleep with the humans on the bed.
    5. Okay, the dog is allowed on the bed, but only by invitation.
    6. The dog can sleep on the bed whenever he wants, but not under the covers.
    7. The dog can sleep under the covers by invitation only
    8. The dog can sleep under the covers every night.
    9. Humans must ask permission to sleep under the covers with the dog.

— courtesy of Anythingdogz’s Blog


Free Is Good

(photo courtesy of Humane Society of Williamson County)

Saturday was an absolutely amazing day! Up at 5:00 AM, plenty of time to get ready & gather my gear for the day. This was going to be a historic day for HSWC and so important for their success in the ASPCA $100K Challenge. The day’s goal? — Place at least 100 animals in forever homes.

Got to the shelter at 8:00 AM. Felt excited about saving so many lives, but also nervous about the impact that Austin Humane Society’s and Town Lake’s free adoption events would have on our event. I’m glad they were offering free adoptions, but did it have to be the same weekend?!

Found Lindsey T., who got me started on my first assignment — Kitty Concierge. While I fed cats, other volunteers arrived to clean litter boxes & give the cats fresh water. After that was done, I swept & mopped with a smile on my face. (How’d that happen? I sure don’t like doing this at home.) Once the cats were readied for the day, I checked in at Kitty Kingdom. Wasn’t much left to do there thanks to another group of volunteers who were already busy getting the kittens ready for their adoring public.

Two hours in & already working up a sweat but I was in it for the long haul. After a short break, I helped staff get the dog files ready to be moved outside for the event. While we were working on that, the newest group of volunteers from the morning’s orientation came into the office to complete the orientation process. So many people & we weren’t even open yet! Love orientation days — more people to help.


Looked at the clock — Noon already?! Let the fur fly! Time to get back to the Kitty Kondos so I could help with the cat adoptions. Fourteen cats (14) & 20 dogs to new homes in the first hour. Over 65 animals adopted by 2:30 PM. At 3:00 PM, I went to the dogs, literally, to take pictures of the dog adoptions. Seventy-seven (77) total adoptions by 3:30 PM. Only 23 more adoptions needed to reach our goal. Spoke briefly with the couple who adopted Gordon, our handsome Golden Retriever mix. They said his picture on the HSWC website was the big reason they came because the pictures reminded them so much of a Golden Retriever they recently lost. Wow! I took those pictures. Nice to know that my pictures helped save a life that day.

I think the count was at 90 by 4:30 PM and several more still being processed. Oh, here comes adoptions 91 & 92. Thirty minutes left. Will we make it? The clock struck 5:00 PM. Where did the day go? Ninety-six (96) adoptions — so close! Wait, what was that? Eran just got a phone call — 6 adoptions done at PetSmart. We met our goal plus some! Cheers & tears of joy filled the room! Thirty-one (31) cats & 71 dogs placed in forever homes for a total of 102 lives saved!

RUTH (a/k/a Adoption #92; photo courtesy of HSWC Talent Agent)

The Free Mega Pet Adoption Event was over and now it was time to help clean up & get things ready for Sunday’s business. After making sure I had all my gear that I brought with me that day, I headed home about 6:15 PM. Such a wonderful feeling to be part of such a historic day. I even came home with little souvenir — a souvenir affectionately nicknamed Adoption #92.

Did you miss out on your chance for unconditional love at the Mega Pet Adoption Event? Click here to check out some of the great cats & dogs waiting for forever homes.

Put On A Happy Face!


I was working at HSWC this past Saturday when I asked a young girl (maybe age 14) if I could help her. She handed me an adoption application and said her family was there to get Betsy. My precious little Betsy — how I love that little dog! I started talking to the girl and asked her if all of her family had already met Betsy. She said her brother had not because he didn’t come with them when the rest of the family initially met Betsy. I asked her why and she said her brother didn’t want to come to such a sad place. My heart just sank when I heard that. We walked over to her mother and, after I introduced myself, asked her if she could bring her son to meet Betsy. (HSWC prefers that all members of the household meet a dog prior to adoption to further ensure that the adoption will be a successful one.) She agreed to do so after they did the Meet & Greet between their current dog & Betsy. I gently got Betsy from her kennel and sought assistance from one of the staff, who then took care of supervising the poochie pow wow. After giving Betsy a hug & a kiss to say goodbye, I went to help return the other dogs to their kennels after the daily cleaning.

Later that evening while downloading pictures for the upcoming Paws & Reflect Luncheon, I saw the picture of Betsy with her new forever family. I looked at the picture of those two kids grinning from ear to ear while they posed with Betsy. I wish I would’ve been there when the family came back with their son. I wanted to tell him that he didn’t need to think of an animal shelter as a sad place. This is a happy place. So many dogs & cats happy to give UNCONDITIONAL love to everyone who cares for them and about them. Staff & volunteers are happy knowing that their efforts, no matter how small, are helping to save lives. Hundreds of dogs & cats are placed with forever families each month. How can you not be happy about that?

(photo courtesy of Humane Society of Williamson County)

Check out all the precious dogs and cats currently available for adoption at the Humane Society of Williamson County. Stretch those smile muscles even further by taking advantage of the FREE MEGA PET ADOPTION EVENT. Click on the image at right for more information about this historic event.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Bring Me a Match

I’ve been volunteering at HSWC for almost three months now and I’ve seen a lot of animals find new forever homes during that time. One of them, Megan, even went home with me last month.


I was in the Kitty Kondos one day so I could get pictures of the cats for the Bowl-A-Thon slide show. I was sitting on the floor of one of the Kondos, letting the cats get used to me and taking pictures of them, when this one cat just jumped into my lap and settled down for a nap. It was quite a surprise because I was not looking to adopt a cat so soon after Biskit’s death and I had not had any contact with this particular cat before that day. After interacting with Megan a few more times that day and the following day, I realized that she had really developed a bond with me so there was no point in fighting it. If she had been a Borg, she would’ve said, “Resistance is futile.”

So my curiosity has me wondering how other people come to find their furry matches.

(photo courtesy of Humane Society of Williamson County)

Check out all the amazing cats and dogs currently available for adoption at the Humane Society of Williamson County and be sure to visit HSWC on Saturday, August 6, 2011, for the FREE MEGA PET ADOPTION EVENT.  Click on the image at right for more information about this historic event.

Bowlin’, bowlin’, bowlin’

As I mentioned in “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore (Or How I Learned to Love Fundraising),” I’m so glad Renée volunteered me to do the Bowl-A-Thon slide show.  I was going to volunteer myself anyway because I love to play around with digital photography and computers.   I started out using Windows Live Movie Maker to make the slide show, but just felt like it was missing something.   After doing a bit of research, I found Magix Photostory on CD & DVD 9.  I guess you could say I’m a bit of a computer geek because one of the things I tend to collect is computer software.   So call me a nerd if you want, but being a nerd sure paid off because I got my WOW factor.

Donate Life!

I read those words on a Marquis board promoting a charity fundraiser outside a local car dealer one day. Donate life! What great words!

My husband & I often talk about what we would do with the money if we ever won the lottery. Besides the usual pay off debts & share some with my family, I would also donate to charity. Charities, or non-profit organizations if you prefer, rely so much on the kindness of others to continue providing their life-giving services to their beneficiaries, whether they have two legs or four.

Since I won’t count on winning the lottery anytime soon, at least I know that even small donations can help in a big way when you look at the cumulative effect. Last month, a local news station aired a story about the impact of the heat wave on animal shelters such as HSWC. The story concluded with a request for donations to help HSWC reach its goal in installing carports and misters to help keep the dogs cool in this 100+ degree weather. Thanks to the kindness of the community over $4500 was raised and HSWC has now installed 4 new carport shade structures, misters, gravel lining for all outdoor kennels, a new water well filter, and electrical capabilities to the outdoor kennels.

Emergency needs aside, HSWC & other facilities have ongoing needs for donations so they can continue to provide their basic services. Here’s some stats on how smaller monetary donations benefit HSWC:

  • $20 – provides testing for feline leukemia & feline immunodeficiency virus for one homeless cat. That’s probably less than the cost of date night at the movies.
  • $50 – provides microchips for 10 newly adopted animals, ensuring a safe quick return home if they are lost. That’s definitely less than a tank of gas for an SUV.
  • $100 – provides heartworm testing for 25 dogs. Approximate equivalent to the price of a good pair of shoes can identify those dogs eligible for heartworm preventatives and those in need of treatment.
  • $200 – provides 2 months worth of cat litter to shelter cats. Donating the equivalent cost of two pairs of good shoes keeps shelter kitties, staff & visitors happy.
  • $500 – provides spay/neuter surgeries for 16 or more animals. The approximate equivalent of a monthly car payment can help control the animal population by preventing unwanted litters.
  • $1000 – helps save the lives of 5 puppies diagnosed with the Parvovirus. Donating less than the cost of professional quality digital SLR camera can help identify the puppies in need of life-saving treatment for Parvo. It’s sad to think that some other shelters will euthanize dogs affected with this disease simply due to cost & time factors associated with treatment.

Please help save lives at the Humane Society of Williamson County or at your own local shelter. Many of these organizations are not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations so not only will your donation help to save lifes, but you may also be eligible for a tax deduction. Definitely a win-win situation. Random acts of kindness, no matter how small, will never go unnoticed.


Convicted Felines?

        865454 / JINKSTER (image from Cat Odyssey blog by Diana Korten)

Hubby & I were watching “Lockup: Raw” a few weeks ago. They showed a segment on the Indiana Dept. Of Corrections which left me scratching my head. The Indiana DOC, in conjunction with a local animal shelter, allows certain inmates, including some on Death Row, to adopt cats from the shelter. The segment opened with a scene of an inmate in his cell and a cat tied to a tether on the cell bars. Then they showed the inmate playing with his cat. The whole thing just seemed a bit surreal.

Still a bit disturbed by this story, I did a bit of research on the situation and found an interesting blog post on Cat Odyssey by Diana Korten, a cat behaviorist . It seems the inmate is responsible for paying the $65 adoption fee as well as costs associated with taking care of the animal. The inmate gets the funds from the money he earns in his prison job, approximately $45/month, and/or any contributions by his family. The warden was interviewed about the Cat Adoption program and said it has helped in managing these inmates because the inmates are required to maintain a job and keep a clear disciplinary record.

As an employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, I understand the need to have effective ways of managing inmates. I’ve been face-to-face with murderers, drug dealers, drunks, robbers, etc. and these guys are no choirboys. They lead such troubled lives in society that punishments for behavioral problems don’t affect them that much and an employee risks his/her life everyday he/she sets foot on the prison grounds. So, it makes sense to offer positive incentives to inmates to get them to behave.  After all, you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

That being said, I still disagree with the program.  I jokingly call my cat, Smooches, a convicted feline because I adopted him from a litter of feral cats living at the prison where I used to work; but this situation in Indiana gives whole new meaning to “convicted feline.”  A prison cell is not a positive home environment!  It’s not natural to keep a cat tethered on a leash when it’s not in a pet carrier.  The inmates who are allowed to adopt the cats may have proven good caretakers for these cats, but there’s still the rest of the inmate population to consider with respect to the cats’ safety. The prison is home to a lot of sick twisted individuals who will torture or kill an animal without blinking an eye. And then there’s the question of what happens to the cat when the inmate is released. Does the cat get paroled too? Where is the offender going to get the money to support this animal? He had a steady income in prison and paid reduced rates for things such as veterinary care while he was incarcerated. Once the offender is released, he’ll be lucky if he can get work & earn enough to support himself much less the cat. And what happens to the cats adopted by inmates on Death Row when the inmate is executed? Nope, I don’t like it all.

Thoughts, anyone?

Paint Your Pet … Or Not!

I do a lot of creative things, but painting is not one of them — at least not usually.  On Saturday (6/18/11) HSWC hosted the second “Paint Your Pet” class taught by a local artist named Jean Townsend.  Bringing her experience, patience and love of oil painting to our class, Jean taught us how to paint a portrait of our pet in the style of the old Masters.  While the other students decided to paint portraits of their own pets, Renee Hagen and I decided to do portraits of some of the shelter animals. Renee chose Buzz, a 6 yr-old chihuahua mix, who has been at the shelter since January 2011. My model was Betsy, a 5 yr-old chihuahua/terrier mix (?), who has been at HSWC since May 2011.

We were joined by Macy, a young calico cat another of the shelter residents, shortly after class started. Macy resides in the Kitty Kondos but recently received “house” privileges. To my knowledge, Saturday was Macy’s first day with the new privileges. It was cute to see her wander into the breakroom where class was being held. She wandered around a bit & then left. She came back a shortwhile later so I reached down to pet her as she walked past my chair. Next thing I knew, Macy was in my lap. I put her back on the floor since there was paint on the table. When she jumped back in my lap, I started petting her thinking she might settle down in my lap. Nothing doing. She jumped down, then went to the opposite side of the table & jumped in someone else’s lap. Unfortunately, this time she jumped from that person’s lap to the table and right into the paint! While we were laughing, Jean and Ron Marullo worked to get the paint off Macy’s paws so she wouldn’t ingest it. Funny, curious little Macy. I guess she thought we were literally painting our pets.

Class resumed after Macy was put in a time out in her Kondo and almost 3 hours later we all walked out of there with our own little masterpieces. I gotta say I surprised myself at how well my painting turned out thanks to help from Jean. I still don’t consider myself an artist, but I think my little painting is wonderful because it captures Betsy’s personality in her ears. Renee’s painting of Buzz is great too. She really captured his personality in his scrunched up little face. We will both be very honored to give the paintings to Betsy’s & Buzz’s new families when they get adopted.

Visit Jean’s blog to see the paintings done by the other students and to see more of Jean’s work at Jean Townsend’s Daily Painting.