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Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln Animal Ambassadors

In December 2013, my husband and I adopted a one-year-old tortoiseshell cat from Hearts United for Animals. Cinder has taught us so much about cats that it seemed proper for her to have her own advice column.

QUESTION: How does one get a cat to take medication?

Recap of part one: A few days after I got adopted, I stopped feeling so good. Every time I bit into a treat, my mouth filled with pain. What the vet discovered shocked my owners and me. I’ll just say that I was very fortunate to have been adopted by people who loved me enough to take such diligent care of me, even though I had only been with them a few days.

Now part two: The vet told my owners that I had something called stomatitis. The vet thought I might have an allergy to plaque. Without treatment, I’d continue to have plaque and eventually the plaque would lead to much worse stuff like failure of my kidneys. Because plaque is full of bacteria, and because my immune system was overreacting to those bacteria, the vet prescribed yucky tasting antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Everyone hoped this would reduce the inflammation in my mouth.

A week later, my owners took me to the vet again. The news wasn’t any better. The vet reported that my gums still looked bad. But she didn’t give up. She prescribed steroids, which my owners hid in my food. They thought I didn’t know, but we cats have a very strong sense of smell. I decided to stick to my resolution to let them do whatever it took to get my health back and ate the food with the pill.

Not all cats are as cooperative. If cats turn up their nose at pills (whether whole or crushed) in their food, try some of these suggestions:

  • Buy a package of yummy Pill Pockets and encase the pill in the pill pocket. Your cat will taste the pill pocket but not the pill.
  • Ask for your vet if the pill is available in paste form. The paste will cost more than a pill but can be rubbed on our ears to avoid the risk that we’ll go on a life-threatening hunger strike.
  • Pop the pill into our mouth. You’ll need to restrain us, which won’t be easy. Here are some tips Hold the top of our head by placing your thumb on one side of our upper jaw and our fingers on the other side. Tilt our head back gently until our nose points toward the ceiling, which should cause our jaw to open just enough for you to pop in the pill.
  • Place your hand under our chin with your thumb against one cheek and your fingers against the other cheek, and push in gently until we open their mouth.
  • For those cats who prefer to be held on their back, cradle them like a baby, but with their head and neck in an upright position. Then just use your hand to open their mouth and pop in the pill.
  • Use a pill-popper. It looks a like a syringe, but instead of a needle there are plastic “jaws” that hold a pill, which will “pop” into our mouths when you depress the plunger. One you have us restrained, take the pill popper with the pill already placed in it, and use it to open our mouth by pushing it into the side of our mouth. Next, push the pill popper to the back of our mouth, depress the plunger. There’s less chance of being bitten since it’s the pill popper that will go into your cat’s mouth, not your fingers.

I wish I could tell you that the medication worked and that the vet visits were over. Unfortunately, the next step was a trip to a specialist. More about that in my next column!

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2017.

In December 2013, my husband and I adopted a one-year-old tortoiseshell from Hearts United for Animals. Cinder has taught us so much about cats that it seemed proper for her to have her own advice column.

QUESTION: How should one introduce a new cat to their home?

Ah, I remember my first day with my new owners. Even in that one room to which they initially restricted me, there was so much to see. There were so many objects to sniff! There were so many places to climb! I needed to bound here and there, everywhere.

When my owners left me alone and closed the door behind them, I felt kind of weird. It was so quiet. At the shelter, I had been in a room with 20 other cats. I loved my new place. I hated my new place. I didn’t know what I think.

My owners returned with food. I gobbled it up. I had to finish before another cat tried to take it. Then I remembered there were no other cats.

I felt grateful for my new owners giving me a place of my own. I head-butted my owners and sniffed them. But I also missed having cats around to play with. It was so quiet! I could hear my own purr.

The way I felt is the same as any cat will feel in a new home. Here are some things you can do to help us adjust:

  • Put us initially in a small confined area by ourselves.
  • Furnish the area with necessities: food dish, water dish, and litter box.
  • Initially, continue feeding us the same brand of food that we were given at the shelter/rescue we came from. Gradually, shift to a new brand of food, if desired.
  • Let us approach you. We’ll be nervous for a while. Let us adjust to you at our own pace. Give us alone time. We need time to adjust to our new situation.

In my next column, I’ll tell you about my next adventure. Please keep watch for it!

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2017.

If you walk into our local Petco on a Saturday, chances are you might run into Jeanie Imler. One of her volunteer duties with Lincoln Animal Ambassadors is to inform the public about what the group does and how one can make use of or donate to the group’s services. Earlier this year, I visited Jeanie at Petco to interview her and to watch her in action.

Jeanie has always had a soft spot in her heart for stray and homeless animals. She told me, “When I was five, my parents and I adopted a stray neighborhood cat. Fluffy was with us until I was a sophomore at the University of Nebraska.” To this day, Jeanie still adopts homeless animals, considering them to be the “best and most grateful”!

Her love of animals led Jeanie to Lincoln Animal Ambassadors. When she and her husband moved back to Lincoln in 2007 after living in Cozad for 33 years, Jeanie wanted to find a volunteer organization with which she’d feel truly be comfortable. Her mother gave her an article from the Lincoln Journal Star that featured a lady who had been walking her dog on a clothes line because she couldn’t afford a leash. The article featured LAA’s president, who had donated a leash and (probably other items) to the lady, and tugged at Jeanie’s heart. Not long after reading it, she made contact with LAA.

I have always enjoyed talking and interacting with people–being a French teacher at Pius with 130 students of course reinforces that belief!

Since 2009, Jeanie has been volunteering at an information table at the South Petco monthly for two hours on most weekends. Her table is regularly stocked with brochures about LAA and its affiliates, The Cat House and Cause for Paws.

Whenever customers walk by, Jeanie will smile and try to catch their eye. If she does, she’ll extend her hand and start to chat with them. Conversation will naturally revolve around LAA’s services, the low-cost neuter-spay program and the Pet Food Bank, but Jeanie will also talk about pets, jobs, and any other topic that might make a connection with customer. At all times, making the customer feel comfortable is of prime importance.

It is delightful and unbelievable the stories that I’ve heard over the years, too many to even mention.

Jeanie told me that over the years, many people have shared with her not only stories of their own pets, but also have talked about their experiences with homeless pets that they’ve fostered for various organizations in Lancaster county and beyond. “These stories are heartwarming and rewarding; anything I can (and have done) to help these selfless people is truly the best.“

Jeannie with customer. Permission granted for photo to be taken.
Jeannie with customer.
Permission granted for photo to be taken.

After I had observed Jeanie for about an hour, she then encouraged me to try my own hand at sharing information. Unlike Jeanie, I’m an introvert. Whereas she’ll naturally jump into a conversation about the cute dog tugging on its leash, I tend to immediately launch into a memorized speech about LAA’s services. And whereas she’ll easily fill in moments of silence, I’ll awkwardly ramble about the weather or some other mundane topic. Yet with some practice and lots of encouragement from Jeanie, I did find myself relaxing as the time passed. I became comfortable enough to share some interesting tidbits about myself, such as: I am from Canada, I teach with Lincoln Public Schools, and my pets have included guinea pigs, cats, and dogs. Before the two hours were over, I had also even begun to promote LAA Pet Talk, and to think that maybe I could add this to my volunteer repertoire.

Indeed, thanks to my two hours with Jeanie, I’ve since found the courage to make myself a more visible presence at LAA at fund-raisers such as I Love My Dog Expo and Tails and Trails. In doing so, I discovered the truth of Jeanie’s advice that “with just an introductory sentence or two, you’d be amazed at how many people ‘open up’ and really want to share their beloved animal stories.”

The more I volunteer for LAA, the more I realize what a difference just one person can make in the lives of not only pets, but pet owners as well … Many times the people I’ve talked to have friends or know of someone who needs our neuter/spay assistance or food from the Pet Food Bank. When I give them our information to give to their friends, they’re so grateful. This is truly a “win win” situation for everyone!

Have a passion for animals? Like to talk? Maybe you would be the perfect person to volunteer to help at information tables. And if the idea of talking to strangers makes you shake, that’s okay too. Animal welfare groups can use volunteers in kinds of areas. As long as you’re interested in helping those who have no voice in their lives, Jeanie advises, “just pick your strength and LAA will go from there!”



Jeanie’s love for homeless animals extends beyond her volunteer work. She’s also an influence on her family and friends. For a recent birthday, her five-year-old grandson asked those invited to bring donations for LAA’s Pet Food Bank. Avery agreed to answer a few questions of mine about this generous act:

Q: What pets do you have?

A. We have Harley, our English bulldog, and Sammy and Sophie, 2 cats from the Humane Society. (The family pets were adopted from the Omaha Humane Society five years before Avery came along, and are still happy and healthy companions.)

Q. Why did you donate your birthday money to Lincoln Animal Ambassadors?

A. Because I know my grandma volunteers for LAA and gives them food.

Q. What do you like most about your pets?

A. I love my pets because they are so much fun to pet and play with. Both of my cats snuggle in bed with me at night and keep me warm.

Q. Why should others help pets?

A. Other people should help pets because they are so much fun to be with and they are such good friends. We don’t want any animals to be lonely, sick or hungry

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2016.

What comes to mind when you think of ways people can make a difference in an animal’s life? I bet helping to hold garage sales and write for a newsletter didn’t make your list. Mindy wanted to help homeless cats, but her work schedule made it difficult for her to commit to the most-needed position at The Cat House, that of cleaning crew. Instead The Cat House found other duties that better fit her schedule, namely helping with its famous garage sales and writing articles for its quarterly newsletter.


Mindy is the owner of two cats, Fleur and Lee, both of whom were adopted through humane societies in Nebraska. “I’ve had Fleur longer, and I can say with 100% certainty that she chose me…. I didn’t’ choose her! I still remember sitting on the floor of the interaction room at the west Lincoln Humane Society location. Fleur rubbed her head on my leg and then trotted over to the door to look out the window. Her tail was straight up in the air, I’ve never seen her hold her tail like that since then. It was straight as a flag pole. She glanced out the door and then came back to me and presented her chin for me to scratch. She then looped her tail around my wrist and I knew she had claimed me!” Mindy adopted Lee two years later because she thought Fleur needed a friend. When she brought Lee home, she opened up the cat carrier and he jumped out.” He sat down in the middle of my living room floor and, apparently, hasn’t moved much since. ;-)”


One day while driving to her bank, she saw cats in the window of a building. This is how she first discovered The Cat House. When she got home, she Googled the organization and was inspired to volunteer her time with them “because of the good works that they do for the homeless cats of Lincoln.” Her own cats bring her so much joy that she wanted to “help cats that were at the shelter while they waited to choose their person.”

Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, Mindy wasn’t able to commit to joining The Cat House cleaning crew due to a sporadic work schedule. Unwilling to be deterred, Mindy searched for other ways to help. Others at The Cat House suggested that she could help with its garage sales and its newsletters, and Mindy seized both opportunities.

The garage sale was a unique money-raising opportunity for TCH. I was always amazed at just how many donations we received from the community. The baked goods that were donated were always top notch! I got to know a lot of the wonderful volunteers by doing these activities.

CatHouse_LogoYou might have noticed that my two first volunteer profiles have been of individuals who help at The Cat House. Given that this month at Pet Talk I’ve been mostly talking about cats, I thought it would be appropriate to focus first on ways to help our feline friends. When I asked Mindy why she would encourage people to volunteer with The Cat House, she responded that not only do you sometimes get to hang out with cats that are awaiting their forever homes, you also get to spend time with “some of the nicest people on the planet!” Moreover, The Cat House will work with you to find an opportunity to contribute that suits your needs.

I would encourage volunteers to just get started! There is always a reason to not help or some chore that needs completed but volunteering helps not only the organization but you as well.

 Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2016.

What comes to mind when you think of ways people can make a difference in an animal’s life? Volunteering at a shelter or rescue? Jodi has done that. Fostering or adopting? Jodi has done that too. But I bet hosting a crafts night didn’t make your list. I chose Jodi as the subject for the first article in this series about volunteers because of the innovative ways she is making a difference in the lives of animals.


For starters, Jodi is an art teacher. According to her, it was just something she was born to do.

I always loved being a leader as a kid with my brother, and I loved to learn. After I had worked in Graphic Design for a few years, I realized I wanted to do something that made a difference. I wanted to make the world better, and so, with my love of art I took the risk and went back to school for teaching. And I love it.

If you were to visit Jodi while teaching (something I hope to do one day!), you would see a very busy classroom. She teaches seven different grades every day, which means there’s a lot of switching out of students. A lot of little lessons on media and techniques are taught first, so students become comfortable creating art and showing their own ideas. According to Jodi, she wants her students to “make their thinking visible.” She doesn’t teach assembly design lessons, where each artist’s piece has a similar result, but instead she suggests ideas, shares stories, asks big questions, and has students respond through their art.

What, you might ask, does being an art teacher have to do with helping animals? In fact, I posed that very question to Jodi, who told me: “There is always an opportunity to give education on social issues.” She then gave me an example of a time when the class created origami cats: “I made sure all students drew claws on the cats and told them the importance of cats having claws.”

Here, she paused, and then explained that it’s more than just the lessons. She shared how one day the kids were talking about big cats at zoos: “I asked how they would feel if they were taken away from their family and put in a small room and stared at all day. I didn’t say it was wrong or right, but just put the question out there for students to reflect on. I also mention the positive side, like how there are wild animals that need rescue such as big cats and places like sanctuaries exist.”

What inspired Jodi to become an artist? She loves the process of creating. “I love getting lost in a painting or clay and having it become something. It almost takes on a life of its own when I’m in that process. I just love it.”

To train to become an artist, Jodi got her Associates and her Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Art and Graphic Design, which took her about four years. As part of her studies, Jodi took several courses in all types of art-making. Watercolor was an early favorite. Later, she also discovered clay. “Surprisingly, I only took one ceramics class during my art training. The first summer [that] I was not either working part time or in a graduate school I took a clay class. And. Fell. In. Love.”

What, you might wonder, does being an art teacher have to do with helping animals? I posed this question to Jodi, who shared: “I see a HUGE need for animal education in our society. I started noticing this after a few years at The Cat House. I knew I could teach and tie in education. I also wanted to contribute.”

Cats and Crafts night started four summers ago. Jodi creates a flyer for each event, which she shares in the PAWS PAGES for the Lincoln Journal Star, on the TCH website, and Facebook. Flyers are also available at most informational and/or fund-raising events attended by The Cat House volunteers. At one point, the kids’ night was the most popular, but now the adults love the crafting nights too. Jodi donates all her own art supplies, with all proceeds going straight to The Cat House. Over $3,000 has been raised since Cats and Crafts started four summers ago.

To date, I have attended three such nights. Two were held on separate years just before Christmas, during which time I created greeting cards, gift bags, bookmarks, and name tags. Some attendees also made ornaments. There were oodles of supplies: card stock, cutouts, stickers, and so much more. I enjoyed customizing cards for family members and friends.





At another event, held just before February, participants brought a donation and a piece of glassware to paint. Pictured below are some samples that Jodi displayed. Stencils and drawings were provided, along with brushes, sponges, paints, and again oodles of other supplies.



I spent most of the evening decorating a champagne bottle to give to my husband as an anniversary gift. By the time I got to my vases, so much time had passed that I decided just to go for an abstract look.


Ever since I started looking for ways to help animals a few years ago, and discovered that traditional ways weren’t always going to work for me, the dilemma of how exactly to be of service has been on my mind. As you can see, right now I’m using my love of writing. I hope Jodi’s story will inspire you to find your own path too.

If you can help, then help. It’s what we should do as humans, help one another if we can and when we can. If you can’t help, and not everyone can, at least don’t harm.

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors Pet Talk. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2016.

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Fall 2017: Focus on Cats!

All things cats ahead! I will post roundups of cat training books, cat Trap-Neuter-Release books, cat coloring books, and cat cozies. For all other animal lovers, I will also post roundups of dog cozies and zoo books.



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