Shannon Hill http://shannonlhill.com Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:17:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 I Travel By Myself. http://shannonlhill.com/uncategorized/travel/ http://shannonlhill.com/uncategorized/travel/#respond Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:17:48 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=1077 I long ago realized that if I have a choice between traveling alone and not traveling…I’m traveling alone. I’ve traveled with friends, and sometimes that was great. Sometimes it made me wonder why the hell I was friends with that person at all. I’m the first one to admit that traveling alone used to scare […]

The post I Travel By Myself. appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
I long ago realized that if I have a choice between traveling alone and not traveling…I’m traveling alone. I’ve traveled with friends, and sometimes that was great. Sometimes it made me wonder why the hell I was friends with that person at all.

I’m the first one to admit that traveling alone used to scare me. And there are still some places in the world where I am not entirely comfortable traveling as a single woman. But on the whole, traveling by myself is incredibly liberating.

From an entirely selfish perspective, when I travel by myself, it’s all about me. What do I want to do today? Where do I want to go? Where do I want to eat, shop, take pictures, people watch? Do I want to meet people, join a tour, or just be alone to take pictures and soak up the atmosphere?

As a teacher, I spend my life being responsible to and for other people. Especially when I travel with kids. Don’t get me wrong – I love the kids, and I enjoy traveling with them. But the responsibility of being the adult in charge of a wandering herd of adolescents is…HUGE. So when I have a chance to spend a few days being responsible only for myself, it’s a lovely change of pace and an entirely different experience.

Take my regular trips to Spain. First, I went with friends. It was awesome. Loved it. Then I went with students. It was beyond awesome, because I had the thrill of watching my kids experience another world. And then finally I went alone.

And you know what? I met people. I went into stores I would have missed. I took pictures I would have overlooked. I spent time in the small towns and the low-tourism rural areas I love – people told me regularly that I was the only American they had ever met. I had tapas in Basque bars, I hiked the mountain with a local guide, I rummaged the hardware store for local tools and handmade Basque ceramics. I convinced a pair of mounted policemen to let me photograph their horses, and I listened to taxi drivers tell me their life stories in the matter of a few blocks.

Because I was alone and on my own schedule, if I found someone interesting, I could stop and talk. That netted me on of my favorite overseas experiences – the day I walked out of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa to find a dog rescue event in full swing. Since I live and breathe for my dogs, I went straight over. The Spanish rescue volunteers and I ended up having a fascinating conversation comparing the state of animal welfare in our respective countries. To be completely honest, the museum itself didn’t do much for me – the art was a little too modern for my taste – but the hour I spent with the rescue volunteers was priceless.

A few recommendations if you’re contemplating a one person trip: Be alert. Observe everything. Ask questions. Talk to strangers. Smile. Go where the locals go. Take pictures. Buy local handcrafts instead of hokey teeshirts. Say thank you. Dress appropriately. Follow local customs – which means informing yourself thoroughly ahead of time. Be respectful. And never, never, never complain about how the USA is so much better than wherever you’re visiting.

Give it a try…you’ll get to know the the culture you’re visiting on a whole new level. And you might get to know yourself better in the process.

The post I Travel By Myself. appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/uncategorized/travel/feed/ 0
Living Language http://shannonlhill.com/uncategorized/living-language/ http://shannonlhill.com/uncategorized/living-language/#respond Thu, 22 Jan 2015 04:20:32 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=1069 As a language educator and translator, travel is critical to my professional development and language maintenance. Language doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It evolves and shifts in response to developments in the culture it serves. Think about it – is the English we speak in Texas the same as the English they speak in New […]

The post Living Language appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
As a language educator and translator, travel is critical to my professional development and language maintenance. Language doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It evolves and shifts in response to developments in the culture it serves. Think about it – is the English we speak in Texas the same as the English they speak in New Jersey? Or Australia? The speech patterns, accents, and word choices in these places have developed differently because each place has a distinct culture with its own set of influences.

Take my own speech patterns. I’m Texan born and raised, with a clearly evident Texas accent. But when I’m in a professional setting, I unconsciously turn my accent off and use a neutral dialect. When students or colleagues happen to hear my native accent pop up, their absolute astonishment just confirms how completely I switch dialects at work. And when I speak another language, my native accent disappears altogether.

I grew up in an English speaking home. French was added to my curriculum when I was in second grade, Latin in fifth, Greek in eighth (okay, to be honest, I took it to avoid PE class). I picked up a fair amount of Spanish along the way, and began to study it formally in college. Grad school – for Hispanic Literature – added Portuguese to my repertoire.

Because I have an ear for the sounds of a language, I imitate and internalize accents very easily. I’ve always been able to “sound right” when speaking a foreign language. But I hadn’t had much opportunity to go overseas and immerse myself in the languages or cultures I was studying, so it was all still a shade mechanical. I had actually already been teaching and working as a translator for several years when my first chance to go to a Spanish speaking country arose.

I went to Mexico for a few short days with several other Spanish teachers. And that was it. I was hooked. Different accents, ethnic clothing and food, new vocabulary – I couldn’t soak it in fast enough. I got to visit monuments, see exotic wildlife, and bargain with vendors in the mercado. The heavy black rebozo I bought is still one of my most prized possessions.

And I came home with a whole new appreciation for the history and culture of the language I was teaching. Teaching about the Mayans was much more relevant after walking through a Mayan village, and discussing the impact of the guerrilla movement in Chiapas took on new dimensions after teenaged Mexican soldiers stopped our vehicle to see if we might be taking contraband weapons to the guerrillas.

That was only the beginning. Since then, I have spent time in several other countries, most notably Costa Rica, Ecuador, and my favorite, Spain. Spain is where the language emerged, spinning out from Latin as the Roman Empire fragmented and other cultures found their way into the Iberian Peninsula. The Visigoths, followed by the Muslim invaders from Northern Africa, lent their vocabulary and cultural practices to a language already carrying traces of the Basques, the Celts, and the Greeks.

Every Spanish textbook points out that words starting with AL come from Arabic, while most words ending in MA come from Greek. Those facts were just abstract minutiae to me until I walked through the Mezquita de Cordoba, where Spain’s Muslim and Christian traditions coexist in casual harmony within the same structure, built on the site of an ancient Visigoth church. Until I walked over a 2000 year old bridge still in use by people whose modern dialect descends directly from the archaic language of the builders.

Once a language student begins to see those connections, history stops being dry facts to memorize. Language suddenly becomes a dynamic living entity, intimately connecting generations of experience and sociopolitical evolution. And those of us who speak that second or third or fourth language learn that bilingualism opens a door into a world that would otherwise only be available to us at the most superficial level.

And that’s when the fun starts.

The post Living Language appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/uncategorized/living-language/feed/ 0
My Bilingual Mind http://shannonlhill.com/education/bilingual-mind/ http://shannonlhill.com/education/bilingual-mind/#respond Wed, 14 Jan 2015 20:40:16 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=1063 One of my students asked me recently what it’s like to be completely bilingual. And how you know if you are. And when did I know I was?   First, I’m about as bilingual in English and Spanish as anyone can get. In order of competence, I speak English and Spanish, then French, with some […]

The post My Bilingual Mind appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
One of my students asked me recently what it’s like to be completely bilingual. And how you know if you are. And when did I know I was?

 

First, I’m about as bilingual in English and Spanish as anyone can get. In order of competence, I speak English and Spanish, then French, with some Portuguese, Italian, Latin, and a few  words of Euskera.

 

I really had to think about my answer, as becoming bilingual is a process. I didn’t wake up one morning and think hey, I’ve arrived! Bilingualism is here! I WORKED for it. Yes, languages come more easily to me than to most people (which is only fair, since I have zero talent for math and science). But learning a language is time consuming, and labor intensive, and requires a willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone into another culture and language in the full knowledge that embarrassing errors and moments of frozen mental blankness are going to happen.

 

The truth is that when I graduated from college with a degree in Spanish and French, I was not bilingual. I spoke Spanish. I spoke French. But looking back, I had not yet arrived at the comfort level and innate facility with the language that is the hallmark of a truly bilingual person. Grad school brought me closer, but even with a master’s in Hispanic Literature, I was not as comfortable with the language as I wanted to be. It took years of practice, and immersion trips, and spending time in Spanish speaking households and places.

 

Now, after 23 years of teaching and working as a translator, I am truly bilingual. Any topic I can address in English, I can address in Spanish. Any social situation that I can handle in English, I can handle in Spanish. (Truthfully, I might actually handle social situations better in Spanish, since I learned those skills with a deliberate eye toward learning to participate appropriately in cultural experiences.) Does that mean I know every single Spanish word there is? Of course not. But I don’t know every single English word either. There are some topics I cannot converse about in either language – things like calculus and nuclear physics come to mind.

 

So what is it like to be a bilingual person? I can’t speak for all of us, but I see the world differently than I used to. My perspective is broader and more inclusive. I see nuances of language, culture, and history that a single language speaker might not notice. I occasionally forget who I’m talking to and reply in the wrong language. Many of my friends are bilingual and international, which means that I have constant input from a variety of perspectives.  I’m comfortable traveling alone in places that my English-monolingual friends might not be. I ask a lot of questions, I constantly analyze social and cultural context, and I talk to strangers, especially when I see people with limited English struggling to communicate.

 

Living bilingually has made my world richer, more complex, and more interesting. There are moments of frustration, when the idea I want to express works better in one language, and I have to struggle to find the words for the equivalent concept in the other. But I love everything about the process of communicating with people from other countries and cultures.

 

This is the message that I want to share. Learning a language is time consuming and labor intensive. There is no magic wand – I don’t care what Rosetta Stone promises, it still takes years of effort and practice and attention to detail. The magic is in the result, when you discover that being bilingual opens doors for you everywhere you go, socially, professionally, and intellectually. And it’s pretty awesome.

The post My Bilingual Mind appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/education/bilingual-mind/feed/ 0
Minnie Lou http://shannonlhill.com/general/minnie-lou/ http://shannonlhill.com/general/minnie-lou/#respond Wed, 07 Jan 2015 19:30:03 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=1058 Very early Tuesday morning, I got a call I had been both dreading and expecting. My grandmother was gone.   Minnie Lou Pinchback Britton was born in 1925 in a tiny backwoods town in Louisiana. She left home before she was 18 to go to nurse’s school, entirely against the wishes of her father, who […]

The post Minnie Lou appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
Very early Tuesday morning, I got a call I had been both dreading and expecting. My grandmother was gone.

 

Minnie Lou Pinchback Britton was born in 1925 in a tiny backwoods town in Louisiana. She left home before she was 18 to go to nurse’s school, entirely against the wishes of her father, who hid her acceptance letter to the school. When her best friend got accepted, she figured she must have been accepted too, so she packed and left.

 

She went on to have a very successful career in nursing. She put my grandfather through dental school, and raised two daughters. By the time I came around, she had left the profession. My early memories of her are of her cooking killer fried shrimp, taking me swimming at the Riverside country club, and signing me up for vacation Bible school one summer when I spent a couple of weeks at her house.

 

She was the first person to put a gun in my hands – just a BB pistol, but still! How many people can say their grandma taught them to shoot? She totally scandalized my parents by allowing a sixteen-year-old me to go on a movie date with a friend’s (utterly harmless) 20-something son. She indulged my adolescent passion for shopping, and she dragged me to church whenever I was there.

 

She was always willing to listen, and sometimes we would talk for hours. About nothing. And everything.

 

In the last few years, we have watched her get weaker, and smaller, and crankier. We watched her give up the things she loved doing, one by one, as they became too much effort for her. Her lungs didn’t work very well, she was diabetic, and she had some autoimmune issues that slowed her down. As her physical strength faded, so did her filter. You know that filter that keeps people from saying and doing things that other people might not understand? That one. And phone calls to her were often followed by the family comparing notes about whatever hilariously inappropriate thing she said this time.

 

She was the only person I knew who could use “Jackass” as a term of affection. And in recent months, she took up throwing things at people who annoyed her. Rumor has it that she caught my grandfather squarely between the eyes with a pickle a couple of months ago because he asked her once too often if she was going to eat it.

 

When she was hospitalized this time, we all were pretty sure this was it. I went to visit her a few days ago, and when I arrived, she looked so tiny and frail and helpless in that bed, with fluids and a unit of blood dripping into her veins. Until she opened her mouth to inform me that this transfusion should perk her right up and then she’d get up and kick me in the butt. Ha!

 

Well, this time the transfusion didn’t bring back her butt-kicking powers. On Sunday, she started pulling off monitoring equipment and told the family that this was it, she was done. She meant it. At around 4:00 Tuesday morning, she slipped quietly away.

 

She was 89 years old, and she and my grandfather had been together for 70 years.

 

She was one hell of a woman.

The post Minnie Lou appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/general/minnie-lou/feed/ 0
Welcome to 2015 http://shannonlhill.com/general/welcome-to-2015/ http://shannonlhill.com/general/welcome-to-2015/#respond Thu, 01 Jan 2015 18:40:46 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=882   New Year’s is traditionally the time when we set our goals for the next 365 days. The second week of January is when we traditionally decide that we don’t really need to keep those resolutions…   Not this time. Not for me.   I’m actually not making resolutions. I’m making progress. I’m taking steps […]

The post Welcome to 2015 appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
 

New Year’s is traditionally the time when we set our goals for the next 365 days. The second week of January is when we traditionally decide that we don’t really need to keep those resolutions…

 

Not this time. Not for me.

 

I’m actually not making resolutions. I’m making progress. I’m taking steps to embrace and pursue ALL my interests. No more “I’ll do that next year” or “Maybe in a few months when ____________ happens” (fill in the blank with the hypothetical of your choice). No more complacency and boredom. I am dangerous when I’m bored.

 

It’s time to make things happen. One of my greatest challenges has always been my difficulty in choosing one thing to focus on, because I like too much stuff! So when I can’t focus, I often just end up doing…nothing. Then one day I came across Barbara Sher’s book Refuse To Choose. She talked about being a Scanner – someone who is interested in and good at a wide range of topics, which may or may not be related. What a concept! It suddenly came to me that I don’t HAVE to give up any of my interests. I just need a place to address them all. And now I have one.

 

In the blog section, look for my take on these issues and more: animal welfare, immigration, education, travel, and generally living the very best life I can. Please check out the product pages – Younique makeup (cruelty free and hypoallergenic!!), the Eleven Paws Boutique at Café Press, and my Teachers Pay Teachers store (where other educators can purchase my original classroom materials). There are also pages featuring my translation and copywrite services. Later in the year I’ll be adding pages for photography and ebooks, and one of my gifts to you will be the page with links to some of my favorite sources of information and inspiration.

 

This is my year to build the life I want. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

The post Welcome to 2015 appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/general/welcome-to-2015/feed/ 0
What About The Dogs? http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/what-about-the-dogs/ http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/what-about-the-dogs/#respond Mon, 16 Jul 2012 03:40:18 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=850 Today the Montgomery County Animal Shelter received a call to pick up EIGHT beautiful purebred boxers. Not from a hoarder. Not from an abuse case. From the home of a woman who died.   These poor dogs had apparently been alone with their human’s body for at least a week. Each was locked in a […]

The post What About The Dogs? appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
Today the Montgomery County Animal Shelter received a call to pick up EIGHT beautiful purebred boxers. Not from a hoarder. Not from an abuse case. From the home of a woman who died.

 

These poor dogs had apparently been alone with their human’s body for at least a week. Each was locked in a crate, and thus had no access to food or water. And now, because they have nowhere else to go, they are in the shelter, where we are trying hard to get them placed with rescues.

 

I wish I could say that it’s unusual for the pets of the deceased to wind up in shelters. It isn’t.

 

In Montgomery County alone, this is the second case of dogs being found with the dead body of an owner who died unnoticed and alone to come to my attention in less than a month. We also get a truly depressing number of pets dumped at shelters by the heirs and families of people who die or go into nursing homes.

 

I cannot imagine what kind of heartless people can cavalierly dump the beloved pets of their deceased parents or grandparents at a shelter, knowing the likelihood that the animal will end up being euthanized. But it happens every day – not just in Montgomery County, but everywhere.

 

So to my animal loving readers: make plans for your pets just as you would for your children. If something happens to you, who gets the dogs? Are you sure the person you choose can and will take on the responsibility? Can they afford to keep your pets if they develop veterinary needs later in life?

 

One good friend of mine adopted a middle aged corgi after he was dumped at MCAS. The nasty woman who turned him in had agreed to keep him for the rest of his life when his original owner – a woman in her nineties – went into a nursing home. This woman – such a devoted friend – kept this poor dog barely six months and then dumped him at the shelter. The shelter explained to her that an eleven year old corgi with some minor medical issues was not highly adoptable and did not stand a good chance of getting out alive. She didn’t care. As she explained it, no one told her how much responsibility owning a dog entailed, or she would never have agreed to take him. And this is a low maintenance nice little dog! Mercifully, we were able to place him with a friend of mine who will give him a good home for the rest of his life.

 

This corgi’s original owner thought she had provided for her beloved pet. Unfortunately, she put her trust in the wrong person. The little guy was lucky enough to end up in a much better situation, but how many pets like him die in shelters because of poor planning by their original families? It is especially bad when the pets are older or have some veterinary issues, because they become much harder to place.

 

Every pet owner who reads this, please:

  • I don’t care how old you are. Designate in writing who should get your pets if something happens to you. Please be sure that you have discussed it with the people in question so that you are sure they are willing to accept that responsibility
  • Make sure there is more than one notarized copy of the document specifying who gets your pets, and under what conditions. Your attorney should have this on file with your will and other estate planning documents. If you don’t have an attorney, keep it with your other important personal papers where it can be readily found, and make sure someone else has a copy.
  • If at all possible, make financial provisions so that the person inheriting custody of your pets will be able to afford their care. You can set up a trust that pays the vet bills, or dispenses a set amount per year for the remainder of your pet’s natural life.
  • If your pet has any special needs or quirks, make sure that information is always written down somewhere, along with the name and phone number for your vet. I keep that information on my refrigerator. I use it for my petsitter, but it’s handy to have in case someone had to assume responsibility for my furkids.

 

They are completely dependent on us for everything. We commit to them for the rest of their lives – not the rest of ours. Please, make sure they are taken care of, no matter what.

The post What About The Dogs? appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/what-about-the-dogs/feed/ 0
NO BSL – In Honor of Lennox http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/no-bsl-in-honor-of-lennox/ http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/no-bsl-in-honor-of-lennox/#respond Thu, 12 Jul 2012 04:29:11 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=848 Lennox was put down this morning. In case you don’t know, Lennox was taken away from his family in Ireland, declared dangerous, kept in jail for two years, and then killed. Why? Because he LOOKED like he might be a pit bull.   Animal behavior experts declared him a safe pet. Animal welfare experts offered […]

The post NO BSL – In Honor of Lennox appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
Lennox was put down this morning. In case you don’t know, Lennox was taken away from his family in Ireland, declared dangerous, kept in jail for two years, and then killed. Why? Because he LOOKED like he might be a pit bull.

 

Animal behavior experts declared him a safe pet. Animal welfare experts offered to send him to the USA and place him in a safe home. The Belfast City Council killed him anyway. Animal welfare people all over the United States are outraged by this travesty. And they should be. But here’s the thing.

 

It could have happened here just as easily.

 

All over the United States, there is a quiet little war being waged. Insurance companies refuse to insure people who have certain breeds of dogs. Landlords refuse to rent to people who have certain dogs. Some shelters even automatically euthanize certain breeds, because their city councils or county commissioners or insurance companies won’t allow them to adopt out these animals.

 

The mainstream media doesn’t help. Every time a dog does anything remotely aggressive, the first question is always “what kind of dog was it?” If it was a pit or a Rottweiler, it’s suddenly headline news.

 

Communities, towns, counties, even entire states are passing or attempting to pass Breed Specific Legislation. Such laws make it illegal to own certain types of dog within the designated area. This is the worst kind of blind prejudice. It can – overnight – become illegal to own a pit bull, or a Rottweiler, or a Doberman. If you have one, you have to move or get rid of your dog. Or they will take your dog away and kill him.

 

I know. Not everyone loves these big strong dogs with a reputation (however undeserved it might be) for being potentially aggressive. I don’t suggest that everyone has to love them. I will say, however, that statistics show that pit bulls pass behavior testing at a much higher rate than quite a few breeds commonly thought of as excellent pets. I will also point out that statistics on aggressive dogs are very, very skewed by the fact that the general public tends to assume that any square headed, muscular, short haired dog is a pit bull, and the officers taking a report of dog aggression have to write down what the witnesses or victims report.

 

Some of you are probably saying right now, “Well, I have a poodle. It’s not my problem.”

 

Oh yes it is.

 

Aside from the inherent WRONGNESS of making it illegal to have a particular type of dog because it MIGHT some day bite someone, because another dog of the same breed once bit someone…this is a  very slippery slope. If we allow pit bulls to be legislated out of existence, then what’s next? Chows, Dogo Argentinos, Rottweilers, Dobermans? How about mastiffs? After all, they’re big, so they must be dangerous. How about Chihuahuas? They pass the temperament test at a much lower rate than pits do. Once the door is opened, it will be much harder to close.

 

Breed Specific Legislation is currently illegal in Texas. Even so, many shelters still won’t adopt out certain breeds; breed specific POLICIES are not illegal. BSL (and such associated policies) should be illegal everywhere. Every dog deserves a chance to live a happy life without the fear of being seized and killed because it resembles a dog that once did something bad. Pits, for example, also make great service or therapy dogs. Yet the media never focuses on all the good things associated with the breed; they egg on the hysteria of people who fear the breed without understanding it.

 

Make no mistake. BSL is WRONG. No government has the right to declare that an animal does not have the right to live simply because of its appearance. Dogs are individuals, and should be evaluated as such. Period.

 

And if we allow any government to condemn one breed, your dog’s breed may be the next one they target.

 

In honor of Lennox and all the other dogs who died because of human ignorance and fear, stand up against Breed Specific Legislation. Don’t let it happen to anyone’s else dog. Not anywhere, not ever.

The post NO BSL – In Honor of Lennox appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/no-bsl-in-honor-of-lennox/feed/ 0
Treat People Like You Treat Your Dogs http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/treat-people-like-you-treat-your-dogs/ http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/treat-people-like-you-treat-your-dogs/#respond Mon, 09 Jul 2012 03:22:57 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=843 In recent weeks, I have encountered several cases of bad behavior within the animal welfare community. Political strife between rescue groups, disputes over veterinary decisions, nasty Facebook attacks over intake policies, personality conflicts between volunteers…we’ve got enough material for our own little reality show going here.   Let me say this as gently as possible. […]

The post Treat People Like You Treat Your Dogs appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
In recent weeks, I have encountered several cases of bad behavior within the animal welfare community. Political strife between rescue groups, disputes over veterinary decisions, nasty Facebook attacks over intake policies, personality conflicts between volunteers…we’ve got enough material for our own little reality show going here.

 

Let me say this as gently as possible.

 

STOP IT.

 

Working in animal welfare is consistently heart-breaking, stressful, and endlessly rewarding, regardless of  whether we do so in a paid capacity or, like most of us, as a volunteer. The worst part for all of us is that we know we’re trying to bail out the ocean with a dixie cup. We KNOW we can’t save them all.

 

Animal welfare people see the results of human neglect, indifference, and cruelty every single day. We try to repair the damage done to starved, abused, injured, neglected, sick animals that other pseudo-humans threw away. We win some, and that keeps us going. We lose some, and it wears us down.

 

We literally deal in life and death on a daily basis. And when you deal with such irrevocable consequences, disagreements and differences of opinion are inevitable. It is not unusual for two good rescuers or volunteers to reach radically different conclusions about what to do with a particular animal. That doesn’t necessarily mean one is wrong and one is right. It means that they have differing opinions about whether that animal can be safely rehabilitated and adopted into a forever home. Or maybe they don’t agree on how to handle a veterinary or behavioral problem.

 

I’m not going to pretend that bad rescuers and fosters don’t exist. They do. The ones who take on more than they can handle. The ones who take a dog home to foster, but don’t follow through with any effort to get the dog adopted and then return it to the shelter a year later, when the now adult dog will be harder to find a home for. The ones who don’t follow basic safety protocol and end up spreading contagious illnesses through their entire animal population. The ones whose animals are out of control and drive the neighbors crazy. The ones who show up for adoption events with filthy unkempt animals. We all know they exist.

 

But they are NOT the majority. The majority of animal welfare people are self-sacrificing, sincerely devoted to the animals in their care, and constantly looking for ways to help more.

 

As a community, let’s acknowledge that none of us can do this alone. We need each other. Shelter volunteers, fosters, rescuers, fundraisers, transporters…we are all necessary parts of a symbiotic system. Some of us may not have the best people skills in the world, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t good at what we do. It just means that we might like dogs better than people…no surprise to anyone in animal welfare.

 

Take time to appreciate the other volunteers and paid animal welfare workers you deal with. Support each other. Offer help instead of criticism. Ask for help if you need it. If someone does something you disagree with, address it privately and tactfully.

 

Like the dogs we work to save, some of us have behavioral issues and personality quirks. That doesn’t make us bad; it makes us…unique. Treat the other animal welfare people around you the way you treat your dogs…with kindness, patience, and attention to their well being. Treats are good too. One suggestion – save the belly rubs for your closest friends.

The post Treat People Like You Treat Your Dogs appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/treat-people-like-you-treat-your-dogs/feed/ 0
Fireworks: Bad for Dogs http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/fireworks-bad-for-dogs/ http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/fireworks-bad-for-dogs/#respond Mon, 02 Jul 2012 01:43:48 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=841 In the last year and a half, I have adopted three new dogs, which brings the current population to three dogs and one kitty. Why is this relevant? Because, in the last couple of days, I have learned that the new kids HATE fireworks.   For several years, I had hard of hearing senior dogs. […]

The post Fireworks: Bad for Dogs appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
In the last year and a half, I have adopted three new dogs, which brings the current population to three dogs and one kitty. Why is this relevant? Because, in the last couple of days, I have learned that the new kids HATE fireworks.

 

For several years, I had hard of hearing senior dogs. Fireworks and other loud noises meant nothing to them. Elizabeth, the first to arrive of the new crew, doesn’t like loud noises, but is willing to ignore them. She curls up in her chair and pretends not to notice.

 

Oliver and Buddy are not so tolerant.

 

Some moron just set off firecrackers nearby, and it isn’t even dark outside yet. Oliver has been barking about it for five minutes now. A couple of nights ago, someone was setting off what sounded like BIG fireworks shortly after dark. Buddy went ballistic (you should pardon the expression). And when he has a fit, so do the twins. He barks, Oliver and Elizabeth bark. If he keeps barking, his voice is so big that the twins resort to howling to be heard over him.

 

The noise – both from the dogs and from the fireworks – is bad enough. And I can secure the twins in their playpen, where they feel safe. Buddy, however, has the run of the house, and when fireworks start booming, RUN is the operative word. He does laps through the house, bellowing all the while. He clearly thinks we are under attack.

 

Fireworks are a problem around here every Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. It generally sounds like a full scale ground invasion with artillery. And pets HATE all that racket. July 5th and January 1st are the two biggest intake days for animal shelters all over the country.

 

So how do you keep your pet safe?

 

Well, ideally, you live someplace without fireworks. If that’s not an option, then you must take steps to protect your pet. Frightened pets will claw their way out of fences, slip out of collars, even break windows in the blind panic caused by the constant barrage of loud noises. Many a pet owner has come home late on the Fourth to either find their pet missing or their house demolished by a frightened pet.

 

A little planning can keep your pet and your home safe.

 

First, I strongly recommend not leaving pets home alone on a fireworks night if it can be avoided. Especially if you have a new pet, you need to be home to see how your pet will react to the commotion. Don’t just leave them loose and assume they’ll be fine – a normally well-behaved pet may run completely amok. Don’t stick them in a crate and think that settles it, either. I have known panicked dogs to hurt themselves breaking out of a crate.

 

The best thing to do is to turn on the tv or some music and settle in with your pets so that they realize you are calm and unworried. Do not reinforce the behavior by making a fuss or handing out treats when they get agitated. Give them something to do before they have a chance to get worked up – maybe a toy filled with treats to keep them busy.

 

If you must leave them alone, confine them in the part of the house where the noise will be the most muffled, and leave a tv on or music playing to help cancel out the noise. Again, leave them with something to keep them occupied.

 

If you have a pet that gets extremely upset about loud noises, I would also recommend talking to your vet about sedatives – for the pet, not for you. If you don’t know how your pet feels about fireworks, plan ahead. It is far better to have the sedative on hand and not need it, than to be desperate for something to calm a hysterical dog in the middle of a fireworks onslaught.

 

Our pets rely on us to keep them safe. Always make planning for their comfort and safety a part of planning any holiday.

 

Time to go put the twins in their playpen…

The post Fireworks: Bad for Dogs appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/fireworks-bad-for-dogs/feed/ 0
Heat Advisory http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/heat-advisory/ http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/heat-advisory/#respond Thu, 28 Jun 2012 14:53:10 +0000 http://shannonlhill.com/?p=838 It’s summer in Texas, and once again the temperature has been running well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That means our pets are facing some extra hazards right now.   Parked Cars   I shouldn’t need to say this, but NEVER leave your pet in the car. I don’t care if it’s for five minutes while […]

The post Heat Advisory appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
It’s summer in Texas, and once again the temperature has been running well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That means our pets are facing some extra hazards right now.

 

Parked Cars

 

I shouldn’t need to say this, but NEVER leave your pet in the car. I don’t care if it’s for five minutes while you run into the drug store. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise as fast as 35 degrees in half an hour, and much of that rise happens in the first few minutes.

 

Imagine you run into the store to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy, thinking you’ll be in and out in five minutes. But there’s a line, and the pharmacist can’t find your insurance information…next thing you know, you’ve been in there for 30 minutes, and the temperature in your parked car rises from 75 degrees to 110. Maybe more.

 

Cracking the window does NOT make any appreciable difference. The problem is the sun hitting the metal exterior. It’s basically a big convection oven.

 

Then I see people try to solve the problem by leaving the car running. Do I really have to tell you this is a bad idea? I know of multiple cases in which vehicles have been stolen with pets inside. And there are even a few documented cases of excited pets knocking a parked, running vehicle into gear and wrecking the car.

 

Outdoor Hazards

 

Do you normally leave your dogs outside while you’re gone during the day? If so, you need to take extra precautions. Do they have adequate shade? Have you checked the temperature in that shady spot? I parked in a shady spot the other day; no joke, the temperature in the shade was 107 degrees. You wouldn’t want to spend all day in 107 degree heat. Neither does your pet.

 

Make sure that all pets, indoors and out, have plenty of water. Especially for outside pets or during outdoor activity time, consider adding chunks of ice to their water to keep it from heating up. Kiddie pools full of water are another good idea to help your pet cool off; just change the water regularly, and remember that your pet is likely to drink some of that water, so no chemicals.

 

Dog walkers! Remember how hot the pavement and sidewalks can get. If it would burn your feet to walk on it barefooted, it can hurt your pet too. Encourage pets to walk in the grass, or try to do most of your walking early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s not so hot. This is especially important for short-legged pets whose bellies are close to the ground; the heat radiating from the pavement is extra uncomfortable for them.

 

Remember that senior pets, pets with other health issues, and puppies are extremely susceptible to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Brachycephalic breeds – like my squish-faced Pekes – are also extra vulnerable to heat. Keep them well-hydrated and limit their exposure. If they get too hot, cool them down fast with tepid water – never cold – and offer water mixed with Pedialyte to help balance their electrolytes.

 

Heat stroke

 

As a dog goes into heat stroke, he will pant exhaustively. As he dehydrates, the saliva will become thick and ropy. His gums will go extremely bright or dark red, and then in the later stages of heat stroke can go a pale, shocky gray. Once the gray gums set in, expect bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and either seizures or collapse. At this point, RUN to the vet’s office, because time is critical.

 

If you catch it in the earlier stages – drooling, red gums, panting heavily – start cooling the dog with tepid water, fans, cold packs inside the back legs. Again, offer water and Pedialyte. Again, you should go to the vet to get the dog checked out, because extreme heat can cause damage that doesn’t show up right away. The vet may want to run fluids to combat the dehydration, or may want to give steroids to keep the lungs working properly.

 

Excessive heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be deadly. Please take it seriously.

The post Heat Advisory appeared first on Shannon Hill.

]]>
http://shannonlhill.com/animal-welfare/heat-advisory/feed/ 0