Read the True Stories of All the Animals shared on our Greeting Cards one design at a time! Follow the Species Spectrum blog. Once upon a time there were two Disc Jockey guinea pigs living in Los Angeles. Well, … Continue reading
Read the True Stories of All the Animals shared on our Greeting Cards one design at a time! Follow the Species Spectrum Blog.
SPECIES STORIES: CHLOE
It’s one of those first date questions everyone should ask: “Are you a dog or a cat person?” I’m a self-professed dog person in a perpetual multi dog household. I tease my cat loving friends and try to understand how a cat’s distant gaze spells connection. It seemed that the aloofness of a cat could never equate the gleeful bond I shared with my dogs. A cat was unforgiving, but a dog at least feigned remorse and did so well.
Oddly as it sounds to me, there are millions of people in this world who actually prefer the company of cats to dogs. Then there are the people that share their lives with both cats and dogs. It’s true some cat people prefer a pet that prides it’s self on elusiveness and independence. Cat people sometimes have a cat that hides out when a dog person like me comes to visit. It’s as if the cat only exists in the recesses of imagination. They talk about having a cat, but I’ve never seen her.
My cat like “stand-offish-ness” toward cats was probably attributed to the time I pet sat for a calico named Missy. Missy was the hide-under-the-bed-type, although she was probably disturbed by the owner’s electronic security dog bark that went off at the front door when it sensed motion. The speaker emitted a bark suggesting to would be intruders that the firewall of the “electronic dog” was nothing more than a Cocker Spaniel. When the batteries were low the bark slowed and tired.
It was dark when I returned to Missy one evening. I was there to clean the cat box and offer Missy her nightly treat morsels. Missy stood suspiciously near an open coat closet. I knelt down to hand her a treat she leapt onto my back, her claws digging through my jacket. Then she hopped from my back to the top shelf of the coat closet. It wasn’t a Steven King tale after all, yet my view of cats was altered that day.
Once in my life I fell in love with a cat. Her name was Chloe and I spent seven years of my life with her. She was not my own cat, but I was with her often while Chloe’s owner traveled frequently.
Chloe was a small tabby with stubby legs and an authoritative meow. Once a shelter cat, she had been re-homed a second time. This time she settled in for the long haul. She enjoyed snuggling on the couch and sleeping on my bed. She was never the type to hide out for long, mainly because her breakfast was top priority. Her insistent caterwaul began before dawn even on the weekend. When I walked toward the kitchen, she lead the way meowing down the hall way as if she were a trained search and rescue dog, only this was about food.
In my life I was well versed in dogs taking my food, but not cats. Chloe would help herself to anything I left on my plate. Scattering when reprimanded, only to sit a few feet away and lick her paws, her gold eyes blinking at me with indifference.
Sometimes Chloe completely ignored me and hid in the bushes, or behind the plethora of angel statues that landscaped her yard. She would watch me call her inside when it was dark. It was as if she enjoyed that I was searching for her. “Fine” I would say to the darkness. “I’m leaving the door open when you’re ready to come back”. Eventually, I would hear “Meow, meow” as she sauntered slowly back into the house.
Chloe was the most delightful cat I’ve ever known. I loved the way her tummy swayed from side to side. I loved her because she made no apologies. Confidence was her state of being. She did what she wanted, how and when she wanted. She didn’t care what the other cats and dogs thought of her. She was a living example of every quality that makes life colorful.
Chloe’s owner contacted me sometime later letting me know that the long-lived Chloe had gone to rainbow bridge. She died peacefully in her sleep on the full moon after eating a hearty breakfast. I still think of Chloe and how she taught me that even a dog person like me would always love at least one cat.
Dear Craig & Craigconnects,
Utilizing your mission for Craigconnects, I want to offer a concept for reducing the number of unwanted pets passing through animal shelters and Craigslist.
Here’s the Problem:
Craigslist has become a mecca for backyard and puppy mill dogs. These dogs aren’t cheap, most selling for several hundred each. It’s not your fault people misuse that whole term ‘re-home’. But, here’s a SIMPLE strategy that could make a world of positive impact:
In your effort to make the world better for animals make Craigslist work for animals by charging a fee for puppy listings under Craigslist > Community > Pets category listings.
Use the fees paid by those who advertise their puppies on Craigslist to support breed rescue and local shelters. In fact, make backyard breeders KNOW how the small fee is used and LET them keep advertising. The point is to make every listing a benefit to animals.
This can be your greatest impact on the world of animals because Craigslist is now truly the epicenter in the USA for advertising the surplus of puppies and quick buck folks.
Help me make this happen.
Jessica McKay Gilmore
Lilly, enjoys car rides in the front seat on a sleeping bag.
Please note: Any resemblance to ‘Andy Warhol Art’ is purely tragic.
If you haven’t visited speciesspectrum.com, please check us out!
As a species we have a desire for familiarity and sameness. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s fine when that familiarity means ordering fast food on another continent or a trip down memory lane when we hear a certain song. However, it’s a different thing when we expect our future pets to be clones of our last pets (Unless cloning is your thing).
Recently I overheard a conversation of two women discussing a friend’s search for another dog. It was obvious the friend’s beloved dog had gone to what pet lovers term ‘Rainbow Bridge’. One said to the other, “They want to get a dog just like the last dog so they’re going to the same breeder and hopefully…” Just then the conversation drifted out of my ears’ reach.
“Get one just like the last one”; That is the phrase that stuck with me. We don’t say this about ex-lovers, just our dogs. In fact we hope that next fish is the total opposite of that idiot we previously dated. We love the familiar (and the new, once it is familiar). We are creatures of habit. In my cuisine experience, this means I almost always order enchiladas when I get Mexican food. When it comes to dogs, some people get hooked on a certain breed of dog. You know the parents that ‘Have always had Springer Spaniels’. We put bumper stickers on our cars (especially Subaru owners), that tell the world our type of dog is the best. It’s a Eureka! moment. “Chihuahuas Rule”. “Border Collies Rule”. “Labrador’s Rule”. Okay, I love Australian Cattle Dogs and English Mastiffs. There I said it. We also now praise mutts, with” They’re one of a kind” sentiments. This is the truth of every dog, mutts and ‘pure-breds’ alike.
I ended up with a very cool (neurotic) eighty pound mutt (healthy as ever with his mutt genetics) and pushing age twelve this year. He has never been anything like the bomb proof golden retriever I had before.
Once while walking dogs at my local Humane Society, a woman approached me through the fence facing the parking lot. She asked me, “Do you have any small, male dogs available or adoption?”. She then held up her small Sihi-tzu girl dog. “I’m looking for a male dog to breed with her so she can have puppies just like her”. The woman went on, “I want her to have puppies because I would be devastated without ‘Missy'” (random dog name).
I kindly explained to the woman how our shelter dogs were neutered. She genuinely thought adopting a male dog to breed with her dog was the solution to her concerns. I waxed on about dog breeding being very expensive (when done right) and to maybe consider adopting another dog with similar breed heritage as her beloved ‘Missy’.
Some of us really are ‘big dog people’, or ‘labrador people’ or some version of ‘small dog people’. Aside from Labradors and maybe Golden Retrievers, it’s very difficult and dare I say impossible to get another dog just like our last dog. Part of the reason for the popularity of Labradors and Goldens is that predictable, happy-go-lucky-fetch-retrieve-lovable-family-dog thing they have nailed into their DNA. Yet, even all Labradors aren’t the same. Some will go through guide dog training and just not have the personality to be a service dog. They might still, however, make an excellent therapy dog.
Dog genetics are the most manipulated in the world. The percentage of difference that separates the hundreds of dog breeds in the world are minuscule.
I write this on an informal leadership training spree with my boyfriend’s mother’s recently adopted Chihuahua. At first I wished she’d chosen an older, easy-going A-list, golden retriever from a rescue (you know, like my last dog). Instead she brought home a ten-year old Chihuahua. This week Lilly has gone almost everywhere with me. I’m not used to working with such a tiny dog and more accustomed to a bigger, burly dog on the other end of the leash. Yet, in a week’s time, I’ve come to enjoy training and hanging out with a Chihuahua–a breed that stumbled into my life.
Our desire to “Get another dog just like the last dog” reminds me of a book I read, “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. Gilbert writes about why we are not the best predictors of our own happiness. This is why we may THINK we want another dog just like the last dog, even if a different dog will be perfect for us. But like friends, no friend is exactly the same as another friend, yet they are both great friends. It is the same with dogs, even if they are the same breed. We may have many dogs in our lifetime and some we will describe years later as ‘the best dog ever’. We assume we won’t feel so sad if we can go get another dog just like the last one. In making this assumption, we might miss out on the next best dog looking for us. Keep your mind and heart open to who your next dog or pet may be. Please consider a shelter or rescue dog and good luck in finding your new best friend!
Jes McKay Gilmore
Speciesspectrum.com publishes modern greeting cards for every occasion. Every Species Spectrum design begins with a photograph of a rescue animal. We photograph both wild and domestic animals in shelters, sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers that would otherwise not be seen by the public.
Our goal is to provoke awareness and thus increased responsibility toward how we view animals in society and the wild. Giving back to small organizations helping animals is the beginning. Please shop our site. Thank you for sharing Species Spectrum greeting cards.
Wilbur Chihuahua & Ranger Chiweenie are currently looking for a home! Right now, today! They are excellent examples of shelter dogs with everything going for them, except they have no family to call their own.
Last week I met up with APA (ACTion Program for Animals) in Las Cruces, New Mexico. All of the dogs you see are looking for their forever home. Shelter Dogs Available for Adoption, Las Cruces, NM
We often hear the numbers associated with animal rescue. What is left untold are the many stories of the animals passing through animal shelters. People are at times surprised to hear that the wonderful dog they just met was once on his last day at the animal shelter. Many are in fact truly adoptable, still smiling, playing and loving life.
Shelter dogs are NOT always riddled with dysfunction. Sometimes they need a little guidance just like any dog. Sometimes they are the easiest dog to live with you could have ever imagined!
I spent a Saturday morning photographing some of these available dogs looking for their forever home.
Photographing dogs sounds simple. Get out a yummy treat, make a chicken clucking sound for the endearingly cute dog heat tilt. Snap. Done. Instead I ended up with a whole group of dogs, large and small, all racing around a big backyard.
Wilbur, Ranger, Duke, Shawna, Jesse and Tempura are just a small sampling of the dogs passing through the local area animal shelter each week. There’s no way I can photograph every good dog that ends up homeless.
While one neighbor is fostering several dogs, another neighbor has yet one more litter of unwanted Chihuahua puppies. This is a community problem. Let’s stop it. Here’s how you can help:
1. ADOPT. DONATE. EDUCATE. VOLUNTEER. FOSTER in your community.
2. SUPPORT legislation that seeks to end puppy mills.
2. ENCOURAGE people considering a particular breed to look into breed specific rescue.
3. GET a cool shelter dog! Do you know his story? Tell people.
4. TRAIN your dog to be the best canine citizen he can be. Make him a COOL former shelter dog.
5. BEST DOG TRAINING ADVICE: A tired dog is a good dog 🙂
6. PET FRIENDLY: If you’re a landlord, work to make it possible for renters to have a pet.
7. SPAY/NEUTER your PET. There are many low cost options available. Sometimes it’s even FREE.
WANNA ADOPT DUKE?
Even pure bred dogs end up at the shelter like Duke, the perfect black labrador!
Meet Duke, a beautiful, sweet pure bred black labrador. He worships the tennis ball and joyful retrieving. While there are many wonderful breed specific rescue groups, they don’t always have room for another dog. Duke was lucky to land in the care of ACTion Program for Animals, Las Cruces, NM.
Tempura, a pure bred shar-pei.
Species Spectrum seeks to personalize the public’s association with rescue and to acknowledge the dedicated individuals and small non-profits working tirelessly to ensure that more dogs, cats and other pets find their forever home.
Please consider adding a shelter dog(s) to your family. Thank you if you already have a shelter dog, cat or other pet. Check speciesspectrum.com again soon because a few of these wonderful dogs will be featured in our upcoming greeting cards!
-Jes McKay Gilmore
- Bella looks over Enzo’s Grave. Enzo passed away February 24, 2014. He is one of the first Species Spectrum greeting cards. Enzo helped create the best seller, “The real mountain is within you”. He will always be remembered as ‘We need more little dog in the hat”. We love you Enzo.
We are never prepared for this. The grief of pet loss is often equated with the great pain of losing a human loved one (no offense to people). Our pets are family. Some of us will say the pain is too great and close the door to having another dog, cat or other pet. Grief comes in waves and we all cope differently. Most of us will go get another pet when it is right for us whether that is the next day or the next year. Many will say there is no dog like the dog no longer with us. This is true. No dog will ever be the dog you had before. It will be different, but it will also be great.
I have gone through pet loss many times with my own pets, but also those of friends and people who’s pets I have come to love. Enzo was of of those pets. I’ve been photographing rescue animals and other people’s pets for a long time. Each one has a story and this is what Species Spectrum is about. Enzo was one of the very first greeting cards I designed and published. He is the basis for essentially the entire Species Spectrum greeting card line and the idea behind it: Showcase rescue animals in a positive way through a product people can share. Enzo has a great story. He was adopted through Greyhound Companions of New Mexico. He was an Italian Greyhound who came from Roswell, NM. Enzo is an example of how many ‘pure bred’ dogs end up needing help in finding a permanent loving home. He definitely found that and spent the remaining six years of his life being treated like the prince of yoga.
Enzo was a pure bred Italian Greyhound dog adopted from Greyhound Companions of New Mexico
Enzo’s little spirit is missed, but his mission is bigger than the pain of losing him. I am sad he is gone, but at the same time I’m not sad. Here’s why: Enzo lived out his days as well loved dog and died peacefully at home in his fleece dog bed at the age of nearly twelve. Any dog (or pet) that has lived a long life being loved and cared for is lucky. Having worked in animal shelters, I know not every deserving animal is so lucky. This is why I hope that in honoring the loss of your own beloved pet, your grief is tempered by a greater compassion in helping the lives of animals that need someone’s help today.
Enzo, you were one amazing little hound!
Jes McKay Gilmore, speciesspectrum.com
R.I. P Enzo, you are always loved! I wish you lots of Golden Pride Chicken in your next life! Hear Enzo sing!