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Top 5 Considerations Before You Adopt a Pet

Widget-PetNet2012

I am excited and honored to be participating in this year’s 2012 Pet ‘Net Event! Organized by Petside, Pet ‘Net brings together pet-focused bloggers to write about a single topic. The next 5 days (November 26 to 30) will be dedicated to this year’s topic: Pet Adoption.

Because this year marks Pet ‘Net’s 5th anniversary, my supporting posts are all in 5’s!

And be sure to visit the Pet ‘Net hub page everyday this week to enter your zip code. After all the zips are tallied, a $5,000 donation from Petside will be given to a local animal shelter in the winning community. The winning shelter will be announced on December 17.

Read. Learn. Enjoy. (And maybe, Adopt!)

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Of all the posts I’ve written for this week, this one is by far the most important. For a successful pet adoption, the kind of adoption that lasts a lifetime, careful thought must be given. If you’re thinking of adopting a pet, make this post the START of your research. Go on to read about pet adoption on the wonderful sites of  Petside, Petfinder, and the ASPCA sites. Talk to the animal advocates at the shelters in your area. Enter this new phase of your life with your eyes as wide open as possible, and your house in order. Do not risk a failed adoption. Fall in love wisely.

Do You Have The Time?

When you bring a pet into your life, you’re making a long-term commitment. Some pets–like parrots–can live for decades!  Also, it’s important to think of the day-to-day time needed for grooming, training, exercise, and companionship. These are all important aspects of being a pet parent and will vary depending on the species or breed you adopt. If you only come home to sleep, then there are definitely some pets that are not for you–maybe an aquarium of fish?

Do You Have The Money?

At the basic level, there’s the cost for food. Some pets may also need special nutritional supplements. Consider the cost of veterinary visits, along with the need for items like flea repellents and heartworm pills. And the possible cost for professional grooming. If you’re in an apartment or rented house, you my have to pay a premium to the landlord in order to have a pet. If you own your house, you may want to consider an addition to your home-owner’s insurance so that you’re covered in case your new dog bites someone. (From Petfinder: Estimated Yearly Costs of Pet Ownership.)

Small Paws Fluff!

Click here to read how research and asking questions helped Lily find her furever home with a family who had allergies.

Do You Have Family Buy-In?

Make sure your wife/husband/partner/roommate wants a pet as much as you do! Also, consider the children of the household–are they old enough/tall enough to hold their own with a 120-pound Great Dane? Talk to your family about what kind of pet they want. And have a good discussion about who will do the work of caring for the pet. Don’t expect the kids to carry the load alone, because that’s not going to happen no matter how many promises are made! What about allergies?

Do You Have The Space?

That 120-pound Great Dane I mentioned above? Might not do well in a small, cramped apartment. Some pets, like birds, have a minimum requirement for sunlight, sleep, and air quality. You may need to “pet-proof” your house–rabbits have been known to chew on electrical cords that run along the floorboards, and puppies will chew on just about anything. Consider your neighbors–will your squawking parrot disturb them? Does your lease even allow you to have a pet? Check out local and state regulations because within some jurisdictions, certain dogs and exotic pets are illegal.

Do You Have The Right Pet Choice?

Research! Go to sites like Petfinder, the ASPCA, and Petside and read about different breeds/species to find a pet that will fit your lifestyle/living space/family situation.  Do not go blindly into a pet adoption. Research to find the pet match that will insure you a beautiful and happy relationship for a lifetime! Before you adopt, understand the needs of the pet you’re considering and accept the adjustments you will need to make in order to bring your new buddy into your life. It will be worth it!

 ~|~

PET ADOPTION FACTOID: More than 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year.

Top 5 Ways You Can Volunteer To Help Orphaned Pets

Widget-PetNet2012

I am excited and honored to be participating in this year’s 2012 Pet ‘Net Event! Organized by Petside, Pet ‘Net brings together pet-focused bloggers to write about a single topic. The next 5 days (November 26 to 30) will be dedicated to this year’s topic: Pet Adoption.

Because this year marks Pet ‘Net’s 5th anniversary, my supporting posts are all in 5’s!

And be sure to visit the Pet ‘Net hub page everyday this week to enter your zip code. After all the zips are tallied, a $5,000 donation from Petside will be given to a local animal shelter in the winning community. The winning shelter will be announced on December 17.

Read. Learn. Enjoy. (And maybe, Adopt!)

~-~

 You can’t adopt a pet, but you want to help because you love animals. Here are my top 5 ways that you can volunteer to help orphaned pets.

Walk A Dog or Play With Cats

Need some exercise? Like to walk? Connect up with your local shelter and make time to walk dogs waiting for adoption. If you’re more of a sit-and-converse kind of person, check into spending time playing and cuddling with the shelter’s cats. Do one or both–the benefits of exercise or de-stressing are obvious!

Shelter Drive-By

I love this idea from Dr. V of Pawcurious! Next time you go to the grocery store, big box, or warehouse store, take  a look at your local shelter’s online wish list (or give them a call) and add an item (or two) to your grocery list. Drop it off at the shelter on your way home. So easy!

Facebook And Other Social Platforms

Find your local shelter on Twitter, Facebook or one of the other social sites, and retweet, repin, repost, +1, like, share, whatever it takes to magnify their messages and advance their cause. Be a butterfly and flap your wings to create a wind of positive change for your favorite shelter!

http://bevtheboomer.com/2012/03/a-small-paws-team-leaders-love-letter-to-her-team/

Small Paws adoptable fluff

Click here for a Team Leader’s love letter to the volunteers she’s never met face-to-face.

Foster

Dogs and cats living for long periods of time in a kennel or cage start to forget what it’s like to live in a home. Also, shelters can get crowded, which could lead to some excess pets being euthanized. Fostering can save a life until a furever family is found. Can you take a dog or cat into your home for a short period of time?

Host A Fundraiser

Do you like to party? Have a knack for organizing? A drive to make money? Host a fundraiser! This can be as simple as setting up a FirstGiving account for your favorite rescue, to a black tie affair for several hundred people. It can be a learning tool for your kids–help them to organize a pet food drive as a school project!

Bonus! Shelters Helping Shelters

Did you know that many shelters are themselves volunteers for other shelters? For instance, recently my pals at Helen Woodward Animal Center volunteered to take on 50 dogs and cats who had been awaiting adoption when Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US. These orphans were on death row because of the huge influx of pets awaiting their families after being separated due to the storm. Instead of euthanasia on the east coast, these transplanted orphans now have a new chance to be adopted in San Diego!

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PET ADOPTION FACTOID: Approximately 3 million to 4 million animals are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats) every year.

 

Top 5 Pet Fostering Tips

Widget-PetNet2012

I am excited and honored to be participating in this year’s 2012 Pet ‘Net Event! Organized by Petside, Pet ‘Net brings together pet-focused bloggers to write about a single topic. The next 5 days (November 26 to 30) will be dedicated to this year’s topic: Pet Adoption.

Because this year marks Pet ‘Net’s 5th anniversary, my supporting posts are all in 5’s!

And be sure to visit the Pet ‘Net hub page everyday this week to enter your zip code. After all the zips are tallied, a $5,000 donation from Petside will be given to a local animal shelter in the winning community. The winning shelter will be announced on December 17.

Read. Learn. Enjoy. (And maybe, Adopt!)

~-~

This post is about my top 5 pet fostering tips. I hope it makes you laugh a little. And please consider this:  “failing Foster 101” is actually an oxymoron.

Don’t fall in love

 

Adopt a Small Paws Fluff!

Gabriel Small Paws

 

“…He does the Ritual of The Spinning and Twirling Poopies….circling and turning clockwise and counterclockwise like a demented canine whirling dervish until he gets to just the right amount of spins, then he squats…” (Read the rest of the story)

 

 

 

 

Don’t fall in love

 

Small Paws fluff for adoption!

Wolfie Small Paws, a mill rescue

“…I have taken care of puppy mill dogs before and was fully expected a fearful and traumatized boy. I had prepped everyone at home to be very patient with him and had taken a week off of work so I could help him adjust to his new home. I made sure to follow all the rules and not take him out of his crate until we got home. In the car he was smiling with his little tongue hanging out showing us the only tooth he had left in his mouth! He would occasionally scratch at his crate door but was a very good boy. When we got home I carefully opened the crate door and out popped this friendly, out going, happy little dog. He was 10 pounds of charisma! We fell in love with him!…” (read the rest of the story)

Don’t fall in love

 

Cookie and Keeper Small Paws

Cookie and Keeper Small Paws

 

 

“…Obviously we didn’t have much information about them. But Keeper (a male) was 1 year old and Cookie (a female) was 6 months. Supposedly they had the same mother. That’s all we knew. They were matted and had fleas, but were adorable anyway. We’d never had two dogs at once, and not a male in a long time. Fostering lasted about 10 minutes and we adopted them…” (read the rest of the story)

 

 

Don’t fall in love

Lupin Small Paws

Lupin Small Paws

 

 

“…I saw him from across the foyer, and it was as if he knew already that I had come for him and was his Mommy because he went crazy with his sweet Bichon wave. I must admit, he got a “Happy Meal” on the drive home. We took him immediately to the vet…” (read the rest of the story)

 

 

Fall in love

OK, so you’ve ignored my first 4 points, fell in love with that dog you’ve been fostering and who you’ve just adopted. Some people might call this “Failing Fostering 101,” but I would disagree. This is actually a high pass of Fostering 101 and graduation with a degree in “Adoption Conversion.” Congratulations!

More Information

If you would like more information on fostering an orphaned pet, check out the following articles:

 

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PET ADOPTION FACTOID: Five out of ten dogs in shelters and seven out of ten cats in shelters are euthanized simply because there is no one to adopt them.

Top 5 Changes to Your Life After Pet Adoption

Widget-PetNet2012

I am excited and honored to be participating in this year’s 2012 Pet ‘Net Event! Organized by Petside, Pet ‘Net brings together pet-focused bloggers to write about a single topic. The next 5 days (November  26 to 30) will be dedicated to this year’s topic: Pet Adoption.

Because this year marks Pet ‘Net’s 5th anniversary, my supporting posts are all in 5’s!

And be sure to visit the Pet ‘Net hub page everyday this week to enter your zip code. After all the zips are tallied, a $5,000 donation from Petside will be given to a local animal shelter in the winning community. The winning shelter will be announced on December 17.

Read. Learn. Enjoy. (And maybe, Adopt!)

~-~

Your life will change when you adopt a pet. Some of the changes won’t be fun, but the benefits will outweigh the work! Here are my 5 ways your life will change when you adopt a pet!

More Chores

Yes, having a pet means taking care of it. How complicated the chores are depends on the type of pet you pick. At minimum, you’ll need to provide food and water every day and clean out the aquarium every few weeks. Schedule time in your day to take care of your new buddy. And enjoy the fulfillment and humbling wonder of caring for a being who’s life would be the worse but for you.

Fewer Lattes

You might need to cut back on your coffee house drinks because, depending on the pet you pick, pet adoption can be expensive. Especially if you’ve fallen in love with a little dog that looks adorable in doggie duds and needs professional grooming every week. But you probably won’t miss the lattes–time spent cuddling with the pooch will take the place of time at the coffee house.

Unconditional love

Trite, but true–and probably the best of all the changes to your life after pet adoption. When you’ve had a crappy day at the office, your dog will snuggle up to you and you’ll know everything is alright. The perfect purring companionship of your cat will punctuate your evenings. There will always be someone soft and cozy to snuggle with on a cold night. You will never be home alone–and your barking companion will give a burglar pause before he tries to break into your home. And no matter what kind of stupid mistake you made today, there is no judgment in those furry eyes. Only love.

Exercise

You now have a reason to get up in the morning. You’ve got to walk the dog. You’ve got to feed the cat and change the litter pan. Taking care of your pet will make you move more. You might find you’re getting rid of  that 10 pounds you’ve been trying to loose for years.

Buster Small Paws helped his human through the loss of her mom.

Buster Small Paws helped his human through the loss of her mom.

 

Longer, Happier Life

It has been scientifically proven that pets make us happier and healthier. The simple act of stroking a dog or cat can decrease blood pressure and lessen stress. Heart attack victims who have pets in their lives tend to live longer than those without pets. According to a 2007 study, people with pets go to the doctor 15% less than people without pets. Having a pet can help us fight depression and give us a sense of purpose. Pets inspire us with compassion and self-esteem–which make us better people. (More details in a great article on Petside).

~|~

PET ADOPTION FACTOID: The cost of spaying and neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for one year.

Top 5 Places to Find an Adoptable Pet

Widget-PetNet2012

I am excited and honored to be participating in this year’s 2012 Pet ‘Net Event! Organized by Petside, Pet ‘Net brings together pet-focused bloggers to write about a single topic. The next 5 days (November 26 to 30) will be dedicated to this year’s topic: Pet Adoption.

Because this year marks Pet ‘Net’s 5th anniversary, my supporting posts are all in 5’s!

And be sure to visit the Pet ‘Net hub page everyday this week to enter your zip code. After all the zips are tallied, a $5,000 donation from Petside will be given to a local animal shelter in the winning community. The winning shelter will be announced on December 17.

Read. Learn. Enjoy. (And maybe, Adopt!)

~-~

You’re ready to adopt, so where do you go? Here are my top 5 places where you’ll find an adoptable pet!

Your Local Shelter

OK, I think this one is pretty obvious. Most towns have a

  • Shelter
  • Humane Society
  • Animal Center
  • Friends of Animals
  • City Pound
  • Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Wonderful new furry friends can be found at your local animal facility. There’s also:

Breed Rescue

Is there a specific breed of pet that will best fit into your life? One place to check is  the Breed Rescues page on the AKC website. Another way to connect with a rescue group that specializes in a specific breed is to open your search engine of choice and search  for your favorite breed’s rescue group. Here are some examples:

You may notice that there is one rescue group that shows up in just about every search for breed rescue. That group is:

Petfinder

11-26-12PetfinderBetsy Saul, the founder of Petfinder, is one of my heroes. How amazing and simple is this idea: provide a platform for animal adoption groups to showcase their adoptable pets for the entire world to see! Yes, you still have to figure out how to get your Fido from San Francisco (where he’s being fostered) to Santa Fe (where you live), but you would not have known about how wonderful he was without Petfinder.

 

The Veterinarian

Good veterinarians often have the inside track on pets who are looking for a new home–whether it’s a caring owner who must give up a pet, or a stray who’s brought in due to care needed. If this is not your first pet, you may already know a veterinarian who can alert you to opportunities that come through the clinic door. http://bevtheboomer.com/2012/03/chucky-finds-a-new-home/

Facebook & Social Sites

11-26-12Chuckie

Click to read how Chucky found his new home.

Wherever you like to hang out online, use your “Status” and put your pet adoption quest into your friends’ newsfeeds. Keep them updated on your adoption search–letting them know “I’m looking for a cat to adopt” might help them to remember that their neighbors are moving to Canada and can’t take their cat with them–they’re looking for a loving home for a sweet kitty. Search for pet groups on your social site-of-choice. For instance, try a Facebook search on adoptable pets. Looking for a specific dog or cat breed? Plug the breed name into the Facebook search bar and join any groups or pages that pop up–let the community know you’re ready to adopt.

Not Looking?

You may not be in adoption mode right now. You love animals, and you know there’s a furry buddy in your future. But maybe your work life takes up too much time, or you simply can’t afford the extra costs of having a pet at this time. Why wait to build your arsenal of pet locators? You can get your furry fix by joining online social groups dedicated to the animals you love or by helping your local shelter through volunteering or donations. And with this active participation, you just might find the fur baby that steals your heart and makes you want to come home at night–instead of working those extra hours at the office. There is nothing more wonderful than the unconditional love of a wagging tail or a welcoming purr greeting you at the door of your house that’s now a home!

~|~

PET ADOPTION FACTOID: Twenty-five percent of dogs who enter local shelters are purebred.

 

 

How to do a Shelter Makeover

Widget-PetNet2011According to a recent AP-Petside.com poll, nearly 85% of people who have adopted pets say it was a positive experience. Today, we’re driving awareness of adoption and its positive effects. The 2011 Pet ‘Net Adoption Event  features a hub page of related content from a consortium of the web’s top pet-focused bloggers and a social media donation campaign in partnership with Iams that will make it easier than ever to support pets in need.

“Adoption is a cause near and dear to Petside’s heart,” said Wendy Toth, Editor of Petside.com. “We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to revisit our inaugural topic and dedicate this year’s event to pet adoption, giving it the attention it so desperately deserves.”

I couldn’t agree more, so here is my contribution to Petside’s Pet ‘Net Adoption Event!

An Introduction

Creating a patio for outdoor events.

Creating a patio for outdoor events.

For the past four years, the employees of my company (P&G Pet Care) have taken a day off work in September to makeover an animal shelter in the Dayton-Cincinnati (Ohio) area. It’s a day for all of us to get out of the office, work together and accomplish something wonderful—to help homeless pets by improving where they stay while they wait for their forever homes.

Do you know of a shelter that needs a face lift? What follows is a guideline for how to organize your very own shelter makeover. How big you make the face lift depends on the needs of the shelter, the people available to participate, and the resources you have available.

Leaders and Teams

A fence facelift.

A fence facelift.

The Pet Care Example: Since we’ve done this for a number of years, our leaders already have experience in their jobs. Our core team is led by Bruce, our Project Leader. He oversees everything. Working with him is Mike, who is a general contractor and acts as Project Foreman. And Diane is in charge of Logistics & Supplies. These three people oversee the big stuff and each works with a group of Team Leaders who specialized in individual chunks of the work.

Being part of a large company has the advantage of a built-in workforce. And knowing that our company’s leaders—Mabe Rodriguez (Vice President – Americas, P&G Pet Care) and Dan Rajczak (Senior Vice President, Global Snacks & Pet Care)–will be working with us side-by-side at the shelter encourages everybody to take part.

Break It Down, the people you need:

At the top is a core of people who lead the entire project:

  • Project Manager: coordinates all the team leaders
  • Project Foreman: a general contractor or very experienced in construction; worth paying for if necessary. Advises on needed materials, needed skill sets, numbers of workers.
  • Logistics & Supply Leader: Oversees communications to all; lines up all supplies including things like building materials, buses, port-a-potties, and catering.

Team leaders support the Project Manager, Project Foreman, and Supply Leader. Some of the areas they cover are:

  • Carpentry
  • PR and Communications
  • Shelter Liaison
  • Painting
  • Artistic Design
  • Landscaping
  • Fund Raiser/Donation Scrounger
  • Catering and Comforts (for the workers)

Most important of all, you need a work force. It can be the employees at your company, your church group, a youth group or organization, your fraternity or sorority, or any group of people who care about animals and want to do a good deed. Finally, don’t assume everybody can drive a bobcat, but know that you will discover unknown skills among your workers.

Tip: Make sure you understand which insurance policy will cover any injuries that might arise.

Pick a Shelter

Updates to landscaping

Updates to landscaping

The Pet Care Example: Traditionally, we do our shelter makeover in September. Our Project Manager (Bruce), Project Foreman (Mike), and Logistics & Supply Leader (Diane) start considering shelter candidates in January. We look for a shelter where we can do lasting good and that is not scheduled for renovation in the upcoming year. We look for a shelter that matches our skills and the size of our work force. We look for a shelter that maintains a good adoption rate.

Break It Down, things to consider:

  • (Obviously) pick a shelter that needs help; that’s not scheduled for a future renovation.
  • Does the shelter have the infrastructure to maintain your renovation and put it to good use?
  • Does the amount of work fit with your worker numbers?
  • Does the type of work fit with your worker skills?
  • Can the shelter support your efforts by raising matching donation dollars?

Tip: Not every shelter has a large enough parking lot to accommodate all the cars that might show up on the day of the shelter renovation. Leave the cars parked at the office and use school buses to bus everyone in to the event.

Collaboration

Cleaning the kennels!

Cleaning the kennels!

The Pet Care Example: Bruce, Mike, and Diane sit down with shelter and create a project list. We set a budget, and we work with the shelter on how best to spend the money. Our only requirement is that the money be spent on improvements that will last for a few years and helps set up jobs the less skilled volunteers will be doing the day of the makeover.

Break It Down, things to consider:

  • The shelter Director knows what’s needed; you know what your team capabilities/resources are. Use this to mutually create the project list.
  • Especially important to use your Project Foreman’s professional judgement to advise whether the work is doable given your workers’ skills and your resources.
  • Now’s the time to settle on a date for the renovation. Fall or spring are usually the most comfortable to work in.

Budget

This gazebo will be a special spot for families to meet their new four-footed family members.

This gazebo will be a special spot for families to meet their new four-footed family members.

The Pet Care Example: We generally spend around 20% of our budget for tools, rentals, and materials. Another 10% goes for catering, buses, porta-potties, worker tee shirts, and a DJ to keep the tunes rolling and our energy up. We’ll also allocate approximately 10% to pay for the expertise and contacts of our Project Foreman/General Contractor. It’s important to mention that our Project Foreman is someone who is very passionate about this annual project and really does much more than what we pay him to do. We also hold approximately 10% in reserve as a kind of “slush fund” for emergencies. If we don’t need it then we use it to purchase a nice surprise for the shelter. The rest of the budget goes to pay the up front costs of the contract work. This past September, the shelter appealed to their supporters and was able to generate a matching amount which doubled the work we were able to accomplish.

Tip: As a “Not-for-Profit entity, typically, a shelter can get better discounts than we can. So we give the shelter the money for the renovation, and the shelter pays the bills.

Break It Down, things to consider:

  • The size of your budget will determine how much you’ll be able to do (and the need to adjust the % for each of the support areas)
  • Is the shelter able to appeal to their supporters to match your donation?

Don’t depend on donations to make the renovation happen, but consider contacting and asking for donations or discounts from:

  • Local home improvement stores/big box retailers for donations of landscaping equipment; plants/shrubs/trees; paint equipment; paint; lumber; tools.
  • Local radio stations to do a remote broadcast providing  music to the workers and community awareness of the event
  • Local restaurants/bakeries/coffee stores for food to feed workers at the event
  • Supermarkets, warehouse store, or big box stores for bottled water, soda, snacks,
  • An event rental company for chairs, tents, tables
  • Tool rental companies for big tools (make sure there’s someone who knows how to use)
  • Contractors doing the pre-work
  • Landscaping companies (especially items they are reducing due to change of season)
  • Pet food stores for donation of pet food
  • Office stores (or even extras from your own office): computers/equipment; office furniture; printer paper.

 The Project List

Some tools and supplies

Some tools and supplies

The Pet Care Example: We have found that there are four things that shelters consistently need: a laundry room makeover (usually involves a contractor); landscaping/beautification (great for lots of “non-skilled” labor); creating a meet/greet area or making it more “friendly” (great for creative mural painting); and power spraying the kennels (all you need is a power sprayer & a hose connection), so we usually recommend these to start the list.

Most people don’t realize how important the laundry room is in a shelter. Towels, rags, blankets, scrubs, rugs, are just a few of the items that need to be washed when caring for orphaned pets. This room seems to nearly always be stuck in a corner as an afterthought that includes bad plumbing, little space, and always needs sprucing up.

Landscaping and painting are things that nearly anyone can do–with a little supervision. And both add a layer of polish to a shelter that invites people to come in to find a pet. Creating a pleasant area for adopters to meet orphaned pets and interact with them encourages the adoption process. And power spraying the kennels–again a low skill task–makes for a nicer temporary home and a nicer environment for adoption.

Break It Down, things to consider:

  • Update the laundry room–do they need new shelving? New washers/dryers?
  • Spruce up public areas with paint and low-maintenance landscaping
  • Full cleaning and updating to kennel areas
  • New office equipment
  • Build new structures–how about a new gazebo for meet and greets (be sure you have the skills)
  • Can a portion of the shelter’s property be turned into a dog park for the shelter dogs?
  • Replace old fencing, or paint it to give it new life

Project Prep Ahead of the Event

A sweet observer!

A sweet observer!

The Pet Care Example: We know that we can’t get everything done in one day, and some of the work is beyond our skills. So a portion of our budget goes to pay skilled workers (contractors) to do some of the carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work that usually needs to be done ahead of our renovation day. Also, Pet Care employees with drawing skills will spend time in the shelter prior to the event sketching out the wall murals that their lesser skilled colleagues will paint on the day of the renovation.

Break It Down, things to consider:

  • Break your project list down to what should be completed ahead of the renovation event, and what can be completed by your unskilled labor force on the day of the event.
  • Sketch out wall murals and pictures ahead of time–make the wall a coloring book that unskilled painters can “color within the lines.”
  • Complete projects with multiple steps that take additional time–like hanging and taping dry wall or setting wall posts in cement–ahead of the renovation date so that they’re ready to be completed or painted on the day of the renovation event.
  • Have a plan for what to do if the weather turns bad

The Time Line

The Pet Care Example: This is generally what has worked for us:

January
~ Pick the shelter

February
~ With the shelter, agree upon a date: We like a Thursday in mid to late September because it gives us Friday to clean up. Avoid holidays and most people’s summer vacation/back to school schedule.
~ Get approvals from management. Also put the date on senior managers’ calendars—we want them at the event!

March, April

Painting murals

Painting murals

~ Monthly meetings for Project Leader, Project Foreman, Supplies & Logistics Leader and shelter.
~ Establish project list with shelter and Project Foreman; start prioritizing the projects.
~ Challenge the shelter to begin a matching grant/fund raiser especially with their top donors; fund raising can continue up until approximately 6 to 8 weeks away from the renovation.
~ Line up contractors to work for free or at discount

May, June
~ Bi-weekly meetings
~Start lining up logistics and supplies (busses, port-a-potties, catering, tools, etc),

Ten Weeks Out
~ Announce the event to the company with a celebratory kick off that includes the shelter director.
~ Send an email meeting invite to entire company so the event goes on everybody’s calendar
~ Create an online signup that includes asking about skills and tee shirt size (shirt colors designate work team; shirts take 4-6 weeks to order); online signup helps establish a broad idea of the skill sets available and a rough idea of total number of participants.
~ Start the tools needed list

Eight Weeks Out
~ Finalize project list with shelter
~ Contractor work lined up and their project list set
~ Recruit specific volunteers based on their advanced skill set to lead work teams
~ Logistical planning for organization of work teams (how many people needed for each project; what tools needed; what materials needed; etc)

Three Weeks Out

Power wash!

Power wash!

~ Group Leaders assigned and begin work with Team Leaders.
~ Team leaders assigned specific tasks and tour site to see area they will work; fully briefed on materials needed, project needs and volunteers’ skills.
~ Photographer takes “before” photos at the shelter

Two Weeks Before the Event
~ Contractors do prep work
~ All lists finalized
~ Volunteers assigned to specific work groups; work groups finalized
~ Tool rental plans completed
~ Supplies for the event are collected
~ Email notice sent to all involved that includes date, time, what to bring (gloves, shovels etc), when the bus leaves
~ Agenda for the day is planned and set.
~ Bonus list created (usually unskilled manual labor that doesn’t need any prep like weeding a fence line) in case the renovation is finished early and we have extra time.

Tuesday/Wednesday, the Days Just Before the Renovation
~ Make up name badges with team names on them
~ Pass out name badges and tee shirts

Thursday, the Day of the Renovation
~ The Project Foreman directs the work teams for an efficient flow of labor (re-assigning people as they are freed up to help finish the things that are taking longer to do).
~ Photographer takes photos of the event and the work as it progresses. We do a group shot before we start and another group shot at the end of the day when we’re all dirty.
~ Our DJ starts cranking up the tunes to energize the work force!
~ Our company leaders and the shelter leader give kick off speeches.
~ Each team leader has a sign so people can find their work groups
~ Each worker has a name tag that includes their team name.
~ Team leaders take their teams and tell them what to do. If team leader doesn’t know answer bumps up to group leader. If group leader doesn’t know bumps up to general contractor or general foreman.
~ Lunch breaks accomplished through team rotations.
~ End of the day closing speeches—big thank yous.

The Friday/Monday Afterward:

Paws 4 a Cause

Paws 4 a Cause

~ Follow up with shelter
~ Do any needed clean up
~ Return tools

Four to Six Weeks After the Event: Celebrate!
~ We have a company meeting to thank leaders and volunteers,  and show pictures/video of the event.
~ Helps us keep our eye on the mission and vision

Break It Down into basic blocks:

  • Pick the shelter.
  • Agree on the date.
  • Make sure the date is on any VIPs schedules.
  • Create project list; priortize the projects.
  • Start fund raising.
  • Start detailing the logistics of the project and supplies needed.
  • “Hire” any contractors/professionals
  • Alert your volunteer work force; get their commitment to the project.
  • Finalize the project list.
  • Finalize the contractor work list.
  • Finalize logistics and supplies.
  • Finalize the voluntary work force.
  • Do the renovation.
  • Celebrate!
Vicki just finished laying sod!

Vicki just finished laying sod!

Conclusion

P&G Pet Care employees consistently rank our annual shelter renovation as the #1 team building experience of their Pet Care careers. It’s an opportunity for us model our mission statement of enhancing the well being of dogs and cats, and a chance to work and bond with others outside of our company who share our passion for pets.

What I’ve detailed is a basic outline of how we make the renovation happen. I hope this will act as an inspiration for others to reapply our guidelines in order to help more orphaned pets find forever homes.

Two Dogs, Four Kids: Pet Adoption and the Family

Widget-PetNet2010Today, I am honored to again participate in Petside’s Pet ‘Net Event!

On Tuesday, November 23, a consortium of many of the Web’s favorite pet-focused sites and blogs will highlight content devoted to the special role pets play in families. Be sure to check out Petside’s comprehensive one-page hub with links to all of the special coverage.

Two Dogs, Four Kids

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My friend Kris and his wife Chris (yes, it’s the Kris & Chris Show!) have two dogs and four kids.

Ben, Houdi, George, Nora, Sam, and Mattie

Ben, Houdi, George, Nora, Sam, and Mattie

Two dogs and four kids? That’s got to be a life of complete chaos and madness, right? Wrong. Whatever chaos and madness exists in this family’s life is greatly soothed by the love and gentle respect that holds this family together. And it’s not surprising to learn that the decision to bring a new member into the mix was reached together by all members of the family.

An Orphan During the Holidays

Nora and Houdi have a tea party.

Nora and Houdi have a tea party.

Kris told me, We adopted our first dog, Mattie, in 1999. She was actually our first ‘child.’ She came before all of our two-legged furless children came—all four of them.” (Ben is 9 years old; Sam is 7 years old; George, is 4; and Nora is 3. Mattie the fur child is 11) “When we adopted Houdi, our latest ‘child,’ last year during an Iams Home 4 the Holidays adoptathon it provided a whole new experience for our children. It was the first time they ever brought a dog into their home. It was the first time they were ever part of an adoption process. And when we went to the adoption event, it was the first time for understanding the fact that Houdi was actually homeless. That she was an orphaned pet. She was one of the two left out of sixty-three pets at the adoptathon. And we explained to them that she didn’t have a place to go when this is over. She’s going to go back to the shelter and most likely spend the holidays by herself. Or she could spend the holidays with a temporary family, which we explained is called fostering.”

Houdi Finds a Home

Houdi settled right in to charming  her foster family, and a bond started to form. Especially when they learned how clever Houdi can be.

Before she joined the Kris&Chris family, Houdi was named Darcy. Her name was changed to Houdini when the family discovered that Houdi had a talent for escaping from her crate. Luckily, she was a well-behaved girl and being an escape artist didn’t stand in the way of her becoming a valuable member of the family.

Chris and Kris knew they were rapidly approaching the point of no return–they were about to fail “Fostering 101.”

Houdi as Teacher

“My kids were very engaged in Houdi’s adoption process.” Kris told me.  “They knew we were sharing our love and home with her when she needed it most. She was so loving and such a good dog–she was just waiting for a family.”

What do children learn when they participate in the pet adoption process and bring a pet into their family?

  • Compassion and respect for critters (human and animal) who are less fortunate than ourselves.
  • How to think through decisions that affect the welfare of another creature.
  • That a lifetime commitment to a pet brings a lifetime of unconditional love, companionship, and acceptance.
  • Confidence and self-esteem can be found in the accomplishment of easy tasks like feeding and grooming a pet on a regular basis.
  • That exercise can actually be fun when you’ve got a furry partner who needs a walk.
  • And according to Robert Poresky, who is a well-known sociologist at Kansas State University, a pet can increase a child’s ability to learn.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday is Turkey Day, and I’d like to make a small pitch for the shelter in your area–help them to be thankful by making a donation of goods, dollars, or your time. Consider fostering or adopting a dog or cat for the holidays.

I know of at least one pooch who is thankful for a new home–this is Houdi’s first Thanksgiving with her furever family. Happy Thanksgiving, Houdi!