Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘Animal Ambassadors


Becoming an advocate for cats everywhere

In the two years that I’ve been involved with Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, not only have I have been writing a few articles a week on a regular basis but my duties have increased. Switching jobs during that time made me realize that I can’t keep up that pace! This led to the decision to become more focused in my efforts. Namely, I decided to become an advocate for cats.

One way I do this is to mostly write about cats. I’ve tried to increase awareness of how amazing they are as pets, how we can enrich their lives, and how we can help homeless cats. Most weeks I feature a cat trio story at Allison’s Book Bag, and you can read my articles about enriching the lives of cats at An Enriched Cat is a Happy Cat and Can Cats Be Trained?

I’ve also tried to put into practice my own messages, by training my cats. Each of my cats being helped with their own specific needs: I’m teaching Cinder to become less guarded about food, Bootsie to be more accepting of crates and strollers, and Rainy to show more patience about most everything. I’m also introducing all three to fun activities such as agility and obedience. Rainy has been doing the agility for months now, and is ready to go public with her skills. That is, she will be once I help her get used to facing all kinds of new situations. I’ll write about our attempts in upcoming posts. In training my cats, I’ve also discovered that my bond with my own cats has been deepened.

Another way I’m trying to become an advocate is through building a network of cat contacts. I share posts from cat rescuers and tell their stories at Lincoln Animal Ambassadors. I’m starting to connect with local shelters to determine their needs and what support can be given them. And I’m helping part of a group that helps community cats to live better lives.

That’s what’s new with me! What about you?


Volunteering is like a full-time job

Looking back over my Six-Word-Saturday posts, I realize that I haven’t talked much about my volunteer life other than two years ago when I wrote about helping community cats. Given that these days I spend the majority of my free time involved in volunteer activities, what follows is a post that’s long overdue.

Let’s start with Husker Cats. This is a group that traps-neuters-and-releases (TNR) cats on our local campus. Volunteers also provide food, water, and shelter. I started by shadowing a volunteer. When she had to cutback on hours, I took on one of her shifts and eventually became a coordinator. I also wrote an article to promote the group and adopted one of the feral cats. I’ve shared numerous stories here about Bootsie!

The other group I volunteer with is Animal Ambassadors. This is a group that helps address the root cause of homelessness by providing spay/neuter and vaccination services, a pet food bank, and education. I started out by writing a few articles for their blog. To better understand the group’s objectives, I decided to invite myself to a meeting. One thing led to another. Now I’m the group’s media chair, which involves duties such as writing press releases and running our blog. I also help with fundraisers and information events.

My involvement with Animal Ambassadors led to a couple of decisions. First, I only queried Lincoln Kids, because I felt that I needed a print forum to promote animal welfare. Now I’m writing two columns for them! Second, because my articles tend to be long and detailed, I wanted to a way to write shorter stuff and hit upon writing a cat advice column. So for, I’ve posted three! I’ll share them posts here over the next few weeks.

That’s what’s new with me! What about you?

calendar2017With almost 80 million households in the United States owning a pet as of 2015, it should come as no surprise that our calendar year is filled with holidays celebrating our animal companions. These holidays might be a little too obscure to grant anyone a day off from work, but they still might give ideas about how to have fun with or honor pets. Last year to help Lincoln Animal Ambassadors visitors keep track of those very special dates, I began posting information about them. Here are links to all of the events you might have missed in March.

Adopt A Guinea Pig Month: March is a time for spring, flowers, and guinea pigs! It’s also designated as “Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Celebration Month.” If you’ve done your research, bring your luck of the Irish to your local animal shelter and adopt a cute guinea pig. Remember, adopt don’t shop!

National Pig Day: Whether we grew up with piggy banks, eat bacon and ham, or have a pet pot-bellied pig for a pet, pigs are a part of our lives. On March 1, these snout-nosed creatures have their own day of honor.

National Pig Day started in 1972 by two sisters. Ellen Stanley was an art teacher in Texas and Mary Rave was from North Carolina. Rave said that the purpose of National Pig Day is to give “the pig it’s rightful, but generally unrecognized place as one of man’s most intellectual and domesticated animals.”

K9 Vets Day: The idea of a K9 Veterans Day originated with a retired military working dog trainer named Joseph Wright who wanted recognition for dogs who serve in military, law enforcement, and other capacities. Why the date of March 13? Because this is the official birthday of the US Army K9 Corps.

During World War I, the United States began to take notice of the how Europe employed dogs to carry messages, provide comfort to soldiers, etc. Well over a million dogs were being used for these purposes. Then on March 13, 1942, the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) of the United States Army began training its own dogs for a War Dog Program, which became known as “K-9 Corps.”

National Puppy Day: Just in time for National Puppy Day, I have a story to share with you from Big Dogs Huge Paws. Marshall is a five-month-old male black Great Dane whose family surrendered him to the Nebraska Humane Society after a car hit him. Naturally, his injuries were a priority, but the bigger concern was his lack of social skills. Marshall is representative of the thousands of orphaned puppies across the United States, which is the focus of National Puppy Day.

Cuddly Kitten Day: Just in time for Cuddly Kitten Day, I have a story to share with you about a cat rescue. Gravy is a long-haired tortoiseshell feral cat of unknown age with a missing paw, who found a home this past November thanks to the united efforts of caring pet owners. The concern was that with Gravy not having all her limbs, and cold weather having settled in, she wouldn’t survive winter.  Gravy is representative of the millions of homeless cats in communities across the United States which is the focus of Cuddly Kitten Day.

Respect Your Cat Day: Rounding out the pet holidays in March is Respect Your Cat Day. Its origins are unknown, although Legacy 9News from Colorado points out that March 28 is a historic day for our feline friends because allegedly, on that day in 1384, Richard II of England forbid the consumption of cats. While I couldn’t find anything to substantiate the claim, I did find records suggesting that cats used to be eaten in various European countries during hard times. Regardless of whether the date has any relevant historical significance, Respect Your Cat Day is a great way for cat owners to end the month.

To read more, check out Pet Calendar Dates. There you’ll find details not only about the above, but about pet-related dates that fall throughout the rest of the year.


All of my pets whom I have lost are missed and loved. I look forward to seeing them at Rainbow Bridge.

First, there were our Samoyed. According to the American Kennel Club, this is an ancient working breed developed by the Samoyede people of Siberia. They used the dogs for herding reindeer, hunting and hauling sledges as well as guard work. The breed was cherished by these people, because they depended on the dogs for their survival.puff_outside

Then, there were our Lhasa Apso. According to the American Kennel Club, this breed originated hundreds of years ago in the isolated reaches of the Himalayan Mountains. It functioned primarily as a household sentinel, guarding homes of Tibetan nobility and Buddhist monasteries, particularly in or near the sacred city of Lhasa. What appealed most to me about the Lhasa history is the breed is considered good luck while, at the time, being nearly impossible to buy.


Finally, there was my Papillon. According to the American Kennel Club, this breed was known in the 16th and 17th centuries as Dwarf Spaniels and were often depicted on the laps of French and Spanish noblewomen. An erect-eared type, fringed as to resemble the wings of a butterfly (Papillon means “butterfly” in French), developed over time.


To read more about the aforementioned dogs from my childhood, check out my post: Dogs of my Childhood. I also wrote a post exclusively about my Papillon, whose full name is Chuckles and Smiles. You can read about him at: My Butterfly Dog.

As an adult, I also owned three guinea pigs. You can read about them and how they changed my life by checking out this post: How Guinea Pigs Got Me Into Writing


After guinea pigs came Lucy, who turned me into a cat-lover. You can read about her by checking out this post: The Cat Who Turned Me Into a Cat Lover

I wrote the above posts for Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, a volunteer organization committed to improving the lives of animals and alleviating cruelty in the local community where I live. Some of their offerings include a low-cost spay/neuter program, temporary assistance pet food bank, and education about being responsible pet guardians. The latter is where I mostly help.

What pets have been part of your life? How have they impacted you? Post your own stories in the comments!

This post is part of the Small Victories line-up. Check out others by clicking on the below graphic.


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Spring Reviews

Almost a year after I announced that it was time to take a step back from this blog, Allison's Book Bag is still here. I'm slowly working back up to weekly reviews again. Each week, there will be one under any of these categories: Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, religious books, or diversity books. Some will come in the form of single reviews and others in the form of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado by Janice Dean
  • The Distance Between Us by Reya Grande
  • Hearts of Fire from The Voice of Matyrs



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Artists Helping Animals

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