Monday, January 25, 2010

Bless You Boys!

Last night as I drove home from an NFC championship party, I had to turn my radio down and roll my windows down to listen to the noise all around me, the sound of a million, or so it seemed, horns honking, all around me, from Airline Hwy to Jefferson Hwy, from the Superdome to River Ridge and way beyond and everyone in this city knew just what those horns meant. That has happened only one other time that I can remember, with those numbers behind it, with that many participating, and it was on my drive back into the city, on the "legal" drive back anyhow, when they allowed us back in for a peek, after Katrina struck, it seemed like every single car between Beumont, Texas and New Orleans was honking for the Entergy trucks that were headed our way, into New Orleans, the fleets that were headed that way to restore something, anything, because at the time, something was all that most had to hang onto to. I have to say that last nights' honks were so much sweeter than that last go round, almost 5 years ago, much sweeter.

Coach Peyton's speech was very fitting, that building used to have holes and it used to be wet, but it's not now, not anymore. For me, of course I want the Saint's to win that Superbowl, but if they don't, they still did what they needed to do, they won in that building, in this city, among their fans, fans that probably needed more than any others in the world...they can't take away what happened there in the past, what happened here in the past, but in 60 minutes of on the clock time, and after one hell of a season, they've reminded us once again, that we do live in the greatest city in the world!

Bless You Boys!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ARNO puts the rescue in Animal Rescue

Casa and her pups at ARNO

Most pleas for help that I send out have to do with a specific animal, but today, it’s just a plea for help, help for Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a plea for you to consider helping, in anyway that you can. ARNO needs volunteers, ARNO needs money, ARNO needs blankets, dog beds, cat food, kitten food, ARNO needs help to be able to continue what it does best: RESPOND.

Last night as I sat with Liberty and contemplated an evening of feral canine rehab since we had a good nighttime dog crew, I was suddenly called away by Jen H. to head out and see if we couldn’t help a feral cat caretaker catch a cat who had suddenly gone “neurologic” Well, after grabbing my keys, a flashlight and the net, we determined on the drive over that it was a cat who this caretaker had been feeding for years, before and after Hurricane Katrina and now tonight, out of the blew, he was stumbling, fell over and was now running across a shopping mall parking lot near his home, dodging all the Christmas shoppers and their cars. Surely, we would arrive too late for this cat but we sped ahead anyway. When we arrived, there he was, running in the back of the mall lot, the caretaker and her friend in tears trying to catch him. What happened next was just another ARNO night as I watched Jen creep up upon this frightened animal and on her first attempt, successfully net the cat. And so it goes, another night of ARNO work, at the shelter, away from the shelter, responding to an emergency call that noone else will, but our night was hardly over as we raced to the emergency veterinarian clinic for a diagnosis and more importantly to the caretaker, a prognosis. It was to be this cat’s night as we were told that his bloodwork looked good and his lack of wounds pointed to a disease that could be causing the blood behind his eyes, the same blood that was now making him nearly blind, Toxoplasmosis.
So Raphael awaits the rest of life now at ARNO, for ten days at least, as we are under orders to go through the motions of a rabies quarantine, just in case, he is being treated with medication to put the Toxo in remission and then his caretaker will find a place in her home for a feral that is already letting us pet him. The caretaker was able to save her beloved cat, one she has known for six or seven years, a remarkably long time in feral cat years, and ARNO, out $255.00 for the exam and bloodwork, was able to give that caretaker something she needed for Christmas, peace of mind in finding someone, anyone, ARNO, to just respond.

Casa, she was one where ARNO, just responded. There was a skinny dog, or so we were told, one who was nursing what they believed was 3 puppies, newborns or no older than 10 days. Well, what makes this one an emergency ARNO asked? The building, the one she lived under, gave birth under, and came home every night to after hunting for scraps so that she could nurse, that building was to be torn down in about 3 days. No, animal control won’t help us they said, “we don’t go under buildings” is what they were told, the workers near that building who tried to look out for the mama dog. So, ARNO was contacted and ARNO responded. After an initial survey of the building, underneath, and its canine residents, an ARNO volunteer set a plan in motion to trap the mother and then waited and waited and waited. Turns out she was a good mother and although she was now sealed into her home, she wouldn’t leave the puppies and enter the trap. So ARNO responded, and we crawled, on our bellies, underneath that building and while one of us shown the light and watched to be certain that the mother wouldn’t attack, the other volunteer stole two of those puppies and that response, it worked. Within minutes, we had the mother dog, her two stolen puppies and one more belly crawl assured us that third beautiful baby. So now Casa, named for the juvenile court system’s building she was living under, and of course meaning “home” sits at ARNO, receiving much love and attention, and hot dogs too, and watches her babies grow and play and be loved as much and now she hopes for others to respond as well. Casa waits for a home, a home for her puppies, for more volunteers to arrive at ARNO so that others can continue to respond to those calls, for money to be donated to buy the food, the bedding, the heartworm treatment it turns out she needs.

Please, respond to our plea for help, respond to ARNO so that ARNO can continue responding when, wherever, and for whomever it is’s what ARNO does better than anyone else.
ARNO’s no-kill shelter is located at 271 Plauche Street in Harahan, LA 70123. You can donate on line at Thank you for caring.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, August 07, 2009

My First Feral Friend

We are approaching the 4 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and how my life has changed! As Feral K9 Coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) I often think how drastically my life has changed since the storm and without a doubt, the most obvious change involves my work with dogs....from a person who didn’t own a dog to one who eats, breathes and sleeps DOG, specifically, the feral ones, the ones who are controlled by fear, the ones who need patience, patience and more patience. Until them, I never understood what true patience is.
And, while considering anything I do or achieve with feral dogs, I have to consider my foundation....Hope. Hope, now Bella, was my introduction to this work and the funniest thing to me now is that back then, I thought two months was a lifetime. Little did I really know!
Lise Mc

"Hope Springs Eternal"Originally posted January, 2006

"Hope" as she was named by her rescuer, is a very special dog. When her local "guardian angel" found her it had been two months since Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast Region. When she was found one November morning, "Hope" appeared to be the only living creature amongst the ruins of Lakewood South, one of the more decimated areas of New Orleans. The desolate wasteland that used to be a thriving community neighborhood, abutted the 17th Street Canal at the Metairie/New Orleans line........the area, still without electricity, had taken a direct hit when the levee was breached and subsequently, very few, if any animals were rescued from the subdivision. We are hopeful that most of the residents were able to evacuate, with their pets, prior to Katrina.

The occasional construction/clean-up worker would attempt to befriend her during the first two months following the flooding, all to no avail. And so, over the period of time, she would receive pizza handouts from the workers......they always looked out for her, no matter that she was unapproachable. When a local feeder/rescuer came upon her in early November, 2005, it was clear that this dog was not only starved for nourishment, she was starved for human attention and whatever trauma she suffered before, during and after the storm, was preventing her from reforming a bond with any human. With that in mind, the local set up a proper food/water station and began what would become an eight-week journey......a journey full of setbacks and breakthroughs, full of tears of both joy and frustration, full of lessons taught and lessons learned......all stepping stones and road-blocks along the journey which ended with a very special friendship between dog and girl.

It took two very long months of daily visits and chats (some, ignored on the dog’s part) and coaxing and sometimes just sitting and watching and letting "Hope" do the watching too. Over time, that milk-bone didn’t look quite so ominous, as long as it was offered to the ground first; then, the hand attached to the milk-bone looked like it might be okay to take a treat from.......and finally, on Christmas Day of all days, that hand looked like it might be nice if it scratched behind those tired, but ever-alert ears.......Aahh! yes, and wow, that felt so good, a belly rub might be in order!!

"Hope" was leashed by her rescuer, without a struggle, on December 30, 2005, in the very same spot in which the two had met eight weeks earlier. The differences that time had brought were visible and audible.......birds were chirping on this sunny day and Joe, the neighborhood security patrol, watched with his jaw open wide and a lone house worker grinned with delight because finally, she would be safe. The rescuer’s only regret was that the kindly gentleman who gladly shared his water-logged, sun-dried remnants of his front and side yard of 5636 Cherlyn Drive, was not there that day to see his timid tenant finally take that walk like all carefree dogs do. I know that during her four months in exile, "Hope" did take some comfort in his daily comings and goings and this rescuer believes that the hospitality he showed to her, instead of attempts to catch or run her off, made all the difference in the world in her progression back to Trust.

As her rescuer, feeder, guardian, and most of all, friend, I named this girl Hope because even with no trust in her eyes, it was clear to see that she never gave up hope. I came to realize that she stayed put for so long because she was ever-hopeful that her family would find her....eventually that hope changed direction, it was never lost, but she somehow managed to redirect that hope and let other humans in and hope for more than she had been. She is a delight to be around......she loves and is loved and she so thoroughly experiences joy as I visit her now, at her temporary home at Celebration Station, Metairie, LA.

So, now, at what is surely the end of our journey together, it is I, her rescuer, that is "hopeful"I hope she finds her family, but, if not her former, than one who will love her just as much......I hope she never again has to find her way back to the loving, exuberant, and playful creature she truly is. Selfishly, I hope she never completely forgets me, but, because I love her, I hope she forgets me as much as she needs to in order to find her forever family and happiness with them.

I’ll never forget, Hope........

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Walking the Fence

“Pal, get your butt in here, right now!” That’s what I used to yell out just to get him to come down off the fence outside the tiny apartment we shared, but secretly, I always laughed and I admired his skill and grace at navigating that fence as if he were a world-class gymnast instead of just an ordinary cat.

Palomine was the personification of his name, he was my Pal and he was all mine. Back in 1991, At the ripe old age of 24 I decided that I would have a pet, my first pet, well, really, he decided he would have me. I helped Pal into this world and had to ultimately tie off his umbilical cord as a stray cat gave birth to him and his four siblings in my front room, both she and I were novices and obviously didn’t know what we were doing. They all survived and went on to other homes, all except the little one with the “quarter” on his chin, the tiny black perfect circle under his mouth that would grow as he grew and max out at the size of a quarter....I’ve got your quarter! the silly game he and I would often play as I bit and grabbed that circle. Pal and I soon became best friends and I must have been in a Honeymooners phase at the time because Palomine was named for Art Carney’s bellowing Ralphie, oh palomine.

Pal was my first pet, the first creature that was my responsibility and although I’m sure I made mistakes along the way, Pal was always there to hang out with, to comfort me when I was down, to just be there. When Pal was about two years old, I endured the first real break-up in my life and he was there to lick my tears from my cheeks until I laughed, he was there when I moved into my first apartment, my first “alone” apartment, one without roommates or boyfriends and it was just me and him, my fence-walking daredevil. Pal had his share of scrapes, twice he had to have surgery for neck injuries, once when he climbed under a car hood and once when the neighborhood cat beat him up. It was the second surgery that brought my Pal down from that fence and inside for good.

The years passed too slowly in many aspects, too quickly in others, and Pal was there for it all.
I thought my heart would break in two pieces the night I took him to be boarded for the week of my honeymoon, he and I had never been apart for so long and I recall the first thing I did upon my return was to go find my Pal. Pal was twelve years old before he finally made a new friend, a friend with whiskers and four paws just like him, a second cat for my household and even after that long of him being the little king, he took it in stride and soon he became best friends with yet a third cat, Sugar who arrived when Pal was fourteen years old. Although I’ve acquired other cats and now a dog from my post-Katrina rescue experiences, Pal never quite bonded with anyone else like he did with Sugar, a cat that I call the evil twin....Pal was a black and white tuxedo and a good cat, Sugar was solid white with an all black tail and quite Pal’s opposite, the little mean man in the house. But they loved each other and isn’t that what matters?

After Pal turned 17 last Spring, I started seeing signs, signs that meant he was nearing the time when he would be ready to move on. Although he has suffered vestibular incidents shortly before Katrina, and his eyes became a tad cloudy, Pal always bounced back, always seemed to rally for another day and always wanted more than his fare share of food, he was such a glutton, for everything. I mentally calculated that quality of life equation last year and for Pal it was food, his Sugar, and outdoors in the large screened enclosure which my cats have access to through their bedroom window. Pal was old, sure, and my husband used to make fun of the little old cat, but Pal was still kicking, still living life, still my Palomine. But I knew we were on borrowed time.

Palomine left this world for another at approximately 7:30 p.m. on the evening of Tuesday, June 9, 2009, much the same way he came into it, with my help. Pal’s quality of life equation was coming up zero in the past few days and it was fast, faster than I would have imagined it and that’s all I could do because Pal was my first. Several weeks ago, I had noticed Pal’s wobbliness, his distance from Sugar as he sat alone in the enclosure most days, but he still charged over to be the first at the food, especially canned food and he still seemed to enjoy basking in the sunlight, but I knew it wouldn’t be long. Only days ago, I noticed Pal was no longer making trips to the enclosure and was instead opting to stay on the couch all day and then the final quality of life, the thing he seemed to always live most for in this world, canned food, was gone. Before he licked a few tiny pieces of some food yesterday morning, I looked into my Palomine’s eyes and he was no longer there. I have always heard people say “you’ll know” or “they’ll give you that look” and what I saw from my best friend wasn’t a look as much as it was no longer a look, my Pal was no longer there and in my heart, I knew it was time. Although I cried the entire way to the emergency clinic, when it came time, I think I was there as much as I could be for my buddy. Did I want to be there until he went to sleep? Because he might do this and his body might do, I wanted to be there until the end, the very end, how could I not be, he had been there with me all these years and now, it was my turn to comfort him. In the end, I don’t know how much comfort I was to him, he was barely there, but in that tiny moment of clarity, in that final moment when I stole his quarter for one last time, I have to believe that being there mattered.

So now all I am left with is the grief, but how could I have imagined that this grief would be so different, so filling, so almost, satisfying? As a rescuer, I have faced grief many times, grief when we lost one, grief when we couldn’t save one, grief when we couldn’t catch one, couldn’t find a home for one, sometimes, endless grief, and surely, this grief I prepared myself for would be unbearable, all other griefs magnified, wouldn’t it be? It wasn’t and it isn’t, it’s a grief that I wouldn’t trade for all the happiness in the world, because this grief is so intertwined in happiness that it can’t be separated from it. On the return drive to the shelter, this time as I cradled my Palomine wrapped in his blanket, I still cried, but I remember laughing too at parts of the conversation, how could that be? I think that the grief that I often face as a rescuer is always intertwined with the feeling of failure, my own, never theirs, at being unable to do more and so that grief is hollow. When I was able to help my Palomine at the moment he needed it most, that completed the eighteen years of a journey, one that was a happy journey, even if that journey did eventually have to end. If all those other griefs were feelings of hollowness, this was the first filling grief, the first grief that I know I will have to and can face again when the time comes.

Right before Pal’s final moments last night, the vet tech said something to me that today as I reflect upon it, the thought makes me smile....she told me that he would be right there forever as she patted my left shoulder......could that be true, would Pal now and forever be my own personal guardian angel? Well, if that’s true, what about that Rainbow Bridge I’ve always heard so much about? How could he possibly be on the other side of the bridge and on my shoulder too? Now, I can’t do anything but laugh because if anyone can do it, it’s my Palomine.....navigating that fence just like the perfect feline gymnast he always was. And while I want to yell at him so badly “Pal, get your butt in here” I know I can’t, but I know that my friend will walk this fence perfectly and I guess I should have known that my Pal would have the last word on that matter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bean, a Feral Cat

Bean is black as night with two golden coins for eyes, droopy eyes but beautiful nevertheless. Bean is shiny and polished, Bean is swift and sneaky and Bean is sleek and cheeky….it was his cheeks that I first fell in love with. I trapped Bean on S. Miro Street, that same desolate street where I first met Boy and Rocca, that same desolate street in New Orleans where I have come to know a feral dog pack, a cat-killing pack that passes through every couple of months…last month, I had lunch with them and then they were gone. S. Miro Street is a desolate street that has known a lot of action in these past nearly three years and right now, it is Bean’s home.

Some days his tiny ears poke up past the rotted molding boards that still run through the otherwise gutted shack he claims, barely poke up but I see them and I stop. Some days he is lounging on the island-like rock that sits smack in the middle of the trash-strewn empty lot next door, the one with the slushy green moat that surrounds the rock island he lays on and his coat glistens as he soaks up the sun…and I stop. And on the days I don’t see Bean, I stop, because this is Bean’s home and this is where he and I have come to know each other.

Bean and I first met when he was a tiny 3 month old kitten with puffy cheeks and beautiful eyes of gold and I was admittedly torn about re-releasing him and when he ran straight out of the carrier and across the street to and into the rain gutter, I was certain that I had made a mistake. Two months passed and when I cradled a tortoise-shelled neighbor girl of Bean’s as she died in my arms, after having witnessed and ended a feral dog attack, I was once again certain that I had made a mistake. I was certain that I should have put Bean into a cage, another black cat, complete with a soft hammock, a clean litter box, eye-catching toys and clean food and water and I was certain I should have done that and that waited and hoped for the family I knew would someday arrive to finally, just arrive. But a month ago as I drove up and Bean emerged, and then three weeks, six days ago when I drove up and Bean peeked out and then three weeks, five days ago when I drove up and Bean peered out over the branches in the tree he was lounging a story or two up in, and then yesterday when I drove up, I knew in my gut, in my heart and in my brain, I had made no mistake……Bean was, and is right where he belongs, even today as I watch the torrential downpour out of my 28th floor window, I know that Bean was already and still is part of the nature I stole him away from in that trap that day and although I can work night and day to change that fact, why? Is that fair to Bean?

Bean loves his world on S. Miro Street, even the green moat that guards him on his sun-basking rock and I take HUGE satisfaction in having it made it a better world for him….I know that someday I may cradle his body as he passes but I also know that day may never come as well, it’s not my plan to write. So while Bean absorbs and makes more beautiful the world I returned him to, I sleep soundly at night knowing that Bean is right where he wants to be and right where I stole him from and right where I returned him to and because I did all that, I will never have the bittersweet pleasure of meeting Bean, Jr……and that, is the single reason why I chose to make Bean’s world better and why I chose to make Bean better suited for his and my world, not because the world needs another cat to call “pet” And because I did all this for Bean, for me, for the Bean, Jr. that won’t be and for the world around us all, when I needed, when ARNO needed, truly and oh so desperately needed an open cage for a tiny 4 ounce wisp of near-death, a little man we now call Miracle, a tiny kitten that was pulled, just last week, from behind the sheetrock of a newly renovated but still vacant house of Katrina, because I did all this for Bean, that cage was open for Miracle, a tiny creature who needs more from us than Bean ever needed. I love Bean and I suspect he loves me in his own way, even if it is for the food I supply to him, but more than that, we both have a healthy respect for each other and what we are.

In honor of CF-14 and in memory of Shannon

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finding Boy


Hope is your survival
A captive path I lead

No matter where you go
I will find you
If it takes a long long time
No matter where you go
I will find you
If it takes a thousand years