Miss Moneypenny

Beautiful, sweet Miss Penny. Penny passed away today, with my Mom and Dad by her side.

While I worked at the Wisconsin Humane Society, a puppy mill in Wisconsin was closing its doors and the shelter was able to take over and rescue all the dogs there. Penny was one of the over 1000 dogs who were being kept at this mill. At only about a year old, she had already had a litter, had ear and eye infections, and needed surgery on her knees to correct a deformity. Penny needed a safe place to be while going through surgery recovery, so I brought her home to my parent’s house for her to recoup. Miss Penny never went back!

Penny was such an odd dog – she didn’t understand a lot of the things that one would think is inherent for pups. She would sniff the end of a vacuum cleaner, preferred to pee on concrete over grass, laying in direct sunlight and overheating herself (with shade available… she just never moved into the shade…), and her favorite toys usually were just pieces of plastic (like bottle caps). Her favorite toy, though, was her “mouse” toy (actually a cat toy…), which is literally just a piece of fabric tied to a play fishing pole. She loved to chase and catch the “mouse” – and once she caught it, you could actually lift her up off the ground her hold was so strong. She caught a few real mice in her day, too… most likely her most favorite moments.

Penny was such an easy going pup who loved people, and was always so happy. I affectionately called her our ditzy cheerleader since she was always happy, but didn’t appear to be the smartest of dogs. When she was super excited, she had her own dance where she would rock side to side, jumping from one front foot to the other. But Penny was not much of a barker – things had to be REALLY exciting to get her to let out a single bark! My Dad loved trying to get her riled up enough for a bark, and I don’t think I ever heard her bark more than a handful of times. My favorite nickname for her is Princess Penny. It suited her well.

My Montague loved Miss Penny, and they were good buddies. When we first brought Penny home, Monty jumped the pet gate to give her one of his favorite toys. Penny and Gizmo of course were also best buds their entire lives. They went on so many fun adventures in the car with my parents, most recently getting to kayak at the local lakes. Ice cream cones had to be shared, but Penny made the most of it with BIG licks (okay, they were chomps!). Such good buddies, Gizmo even saved Penny from a coyote a few years ago. They were the best of friends. Part of me thinks Penny missed Gizmo and wanted to be with him again. I’d like to think they are together again, going on walk adventures, laying in the sun, eating ice cream, and snuggling up together.

I last saw Penny in Chicago when Mom and Dad drove down to see my rehearsal for Geek Bowl. Gizmo and Penny hung out in the car, but we did get to walk around a little bit at Navy Pier. I can’t believe I won’t get to pet her super soft fur on her floppy ears, or sit with her on the couch to just hang out again.

Give Monty, Loki, and Gizmo my love, Miss Moneypenny. I love you so much and know you will be forever missed ❤


Oh, little man. Gizmo passed away this morning with his sister, Penny, and Mom and Dad by his side. When we came back from Mexico for Lucas and Petra’s wedding, I went to work at the Wisconsin Humane Society and found this adorable terrier/chihuahua mix on the adoption floor. I called Dad and he came in to meet the little man – when Dad sat down on the floor, Gizmo crawled into his lap and settled in. He had found his person.

We did an out and about and he never went back.

The beginning wasn’t easy! Earning the nickname El Diablo, Gizmo was known for running away from the house every chance he got, and biting everyone (except for Mom!). He even bit Loki, his favorite cat friend, for sniffing at his food. But a few months of love and letting his neuter surgery do it’s work, and Gizmo became the happy, loving Schmo we all know and love.

Gizmo turned out to love cats, Loki especially, and babies. We also learned he knew some Spanish and must have lived in a Spanish speaking household before he was found as a street dog. He had street smarts (unlike his sister, Penny) and would be found under cars or in the shade when hanging out outside.

He was the protector of the home – sounding the alarm at ANY noise, especially when Dad was away and Mom needed protecting. ANY. Noise. Even ones that we couldn’t hear. He also loved to snuggle, and would tell you when it was bed time.

Gizmo was the best little buddy. My heart is breaking that I won’t get to snuggle up with him again. I last saw him in Chicago when Mom and Dad drove down to see my rehearsal for Geek Bowl. Gizmo and Penny hung out in the car, but we did get to walk around a little bit at Navy Pier.

The greatest Chihuahua I have ever known. I love you and will miss you so dearly, Gizmo. Say hi to Loki and Monty for me. ❤

Stop Releasing Balloons

Balloons do not go to heaven. They land in the ocean and choke sea turtles, and the ribbons entangle birds.  Many times, they end up on a beach as litter.  Even the “biodegradable” kind can hurt animals before they have a chance to disappear.  Animals far from the ocean, such as horses, have been hurt and killed by balloons (they eat them when they land in their hay or they get spooked and bolt).
Some balloons have started fires when they got entangled in power lines.  Balloons blow.  Don’t let them go!  Please share.  Also, remember sky lanterns also are horrible for the environment.  They have set homes, power lines, trees, and buildings on fire.  Sky lanterns can also entangle an animal even if it is marketed as “biodegradable.” There are many safe alternatives to releasing litter into the air, such as planting a tree for your loved one and watching it bloom, or blowing bubbles into the air.
Thanks for looking into alternatives to releasing balloons and sky lanterns into the air.  The animals and environment thank you!  🙂


This was sitting in my drafts!  What a tragedy I never published it, so here we are. 🙂  I bought a house almost four years ago now – and I love it!015309644_640x480Yep, I bought a house.  It honestly feels rather strange to finally be able to say that.  This has been a dream of mine for years, and something I have worked towards most of my adult life.  The process to buy a house has take me a lot longer than I thought it could ever take.  But, here I am.  A Homeowner!

The process was definitely not for the faint of heart.  Here is just a snapshot of what it took to get here:

  • Start Date:  met with my Realtor February 19.  End Date:  closed August 24.
  • I put in 15 offers before I was accepted.  15.  That fifteen contracts signed, fifteen bank pre-approval letters I needed to hunt down, and fifteen cover letters I had to write, pouring my heart out for houses I fell in love with.
  • Of those fifteen, four of those houses I truly loved.  So, that’s three complete heartbreaks of thinking I found “the one” and learning the sellers didn’t agree.



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But now I have my own home!  It is something I am so proud of, especially since I did it as a single woman.  Girl Power!  I love my home, and can’t wait to make it my own.

The Teacup Pig Scam

Teacup pigs, also known as miniature pigs, have been all the rage for the last decade or so.  But… The problem is, there is no such thing as a teacup or miniature pig.  The closest a healthy potbelly pig can get to “miniature” size are Vietnamese potbelly pigs, and they typically weigh 100-200 pounds.  Not so teacup, right?

Breeders are taking these poor potbelly pigs, underfeed them so they don’t grow to their natural full size, and make sure the mom pig is not fully grown when they breed her.  This way, underfed, not fully grown pigs look a lot smaller.  But it is, of course, very cruel.  It also decreases these poor pig’s life expectancy.  And a lot of folks who are tricked into getting these pigs usually are upset when their new pet gets a lot bigger than planned so they give them up to shelters.

So now shelters are overrun with potbelly pigs who have been mistreated, malnourished, and looking for a loving home.  But, shockingly, there are not as many people looking to have a pig that weighs more than them.  If you are thinking of getting a new pet, though, please consider these wonderful pigs!

Pigs are super fun, friendly, and SMART!  I had the honor of working with the pigs at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and those guys were picking up on the clicker training faster than any dogs I have worked with.  I can’t wait to get a pair of pigs myself!

To learn more about “teacup” pigs, and their plight, please visit Best Friends’ website here.

Thanks and Oink!

Help The Animals During the Pandemic

It is a crazy time, and I hope everyone is checking in with their friends and family so we can all feel connected during this isolating time.  A lot of people and businesses are going to suffer due to this pandemic, especially nonprofits, and especially animal welfare organizations.  While an outbreak of a new disease is occurring, people are panicking and leaving their animals at shelters… and the number of adoptions is going down (or is down to zero because the shelters are having to close).  This equals shelters being overrun with homeless animals.

There are several ways you can help, though!  Reach out to your local animal shelter and see how you can help them.  Want a quarantine friend for life?  Adopt!  Looking for a short term quarantine friend?  Foster!  Love animals, but can’t take one in right now?  Donate!  Animal shelters all over the world are hurting right now, and that means animals are going to be hurting, too.  Please, adopt, foster, donate… help however you can!

And do know, there is no proof that animals can transmit the virus to humans.  You can keep your pets and everyone will be safe.  And you can bring in new pets… you will all still be safe!  More information about that here from the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

Please help if you can.  And be safe – stay away from large groups, don’t go out if you really don’t have to.  And do check in on your friends and family, and those around you who may be at a greater risk.  We all need to step up and help each other to make sure the best outcome happens.

Go get a foster to snuggle with during all this, and cheers, friends.

Turning Off Your Car At Train Stops

Last night as I was driving home from choir practice, the not so very rare sound of a train approaching blared.  Fort Collins seems to have a well-earned reputation of trains coming through town and stopping traffic in its tracks.  Growing up in the countryside of Wisconsin, I am no stranger to long, slow trains.  And thanks to that I am no stranger to the concept of turning the car off when stuck at a train.  However, I have noticed that those around town here in Fort Collins don’t seem to know to do this.

So!  If you find yourself stuck at a train, please turn your engine off!  It’s better for the environment, better for those around you, and better for your car.

Volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society

For almost 10 years, it has been a dream of mine to visit and volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.  They are a revolutionary animal sanctuary that has changed animal welfare in this country, and are the driving force to the entire country being no kill.

When work was taking me to Las Vegas last winter, the opportunity presented itself for my mom to join me a few days earlier to finally visit and volunteer at Best Friends.

We volunteered with the pigs at Marshall’s Piggy Paradise for our morning shift.  We helped prepare their morning meals, and then headed out to distribute their food.  Getting to meet all those fun characters was a blast!  Then, Mom and I were honored and lucky enough to be asked to do clicker training with two lovely, under-socialized piggies, Chester and Smokey.  Chester was much more brave, but both had great progress and really will do anything for an almond!

The afternoon shift was with the dogs in “The Garden” of Dogtown.  We took two dogs out at a time, walking Bolt, Smokey, Dorothy, and Cisco.  The walking path is really nice and has spots to stop and snuggle with your walking buddy if they want.  Most of the pups we walked were more about sniffing than cuddling, although Bolt did sneak in a few kisses.

Our first day of volunteer shifts proved to be muddy, a little chilly, and incredibly fun.

Best Friends lets volunteers do sleepovers with approved dogs and cats, so we selected a pup who hadn’t been on a sleepover in a few weeks to join us for the evening, Chinook.  A big, loving goofy guy!

We visited Angels Rest with our new best friend and walked the beautiful and peaceful grounds.  Dinner was carry out back to the hotel so we could enjoy it with our lovely companion for the evening.  Chinook was a really lover boy and slept on the bed the entire night.  He was also potty trained and was a true delight to have overnight!

The next morning, we dropped off the handsome Chinook and then headed to our final volunteer shift with the kitties in Cat World.  Of course, we chose to go to “Casa de Calmar” which is where the FeLV positive cats live.  Having recently lost my sweet Calliope who had FeLV it was the only place I could go.

These cats have massive indoor/outdoor enclosures and get to enjoy all kinds of hiding spots, toys, climbing options, and beds.  They definitely are lucky kitties!

Best Friends proved to be everything I had hoped it would.  It has been over a decade in the making wanting to come experience this place, and it was so very worth it.  The animals are treated extremely well, the staff are amazing and kind, and the location is just phenomenal.

Visiting and volunteering truly was a dream come true.  I can’t wait to go back!

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Help Australia

Australia is burning, and we all need to help.  If everyone gives what they can spare, we can make a big difference and help this horrible catastrophe.  Please give what you can, and let’s all do a rain dance for Australia as well. Love to Oz.

How to Donate to Firefighters

  • The NSW Rural Fire Service lets you donate to specific brigades here.
  •  Donate to the Country Fire Service in South Australia to help volunteer firefighters here.
  • The Queensland Fire and Rescue  accepts donations here.
  • Donations to the Country Fire Association support firefighters in Victoria and affected communities here.

How to Donate to Relief Organizations

  • Donate to the Red Cross to help thousands of people in evacuation centers and recovery hubs here.
  • The Salvation Army accepts donations to help local communities here.
  • Donations to the St Vincent Society help feed affected families and buy them essentials here.

How to Donate to Wildlife Organizations

  • Donate to WIRES to help with wildlife rescue here.
  • Donate to the World Wildlife Fund Australia to help with koala conservation here.
  • Donate to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to help provide water for wildlife and to support a Koala breeding program here.
  • Donate to the RSPCA New South Wales to help with efforts to evacuate and rescue pets here.

I pulled this list from a news article on KTLA  (full story linked here).  I did add the WIRES myself to the list, as I have heard a lot of good things about that organization and know they could use our help, too.




Today is the first real snow we’ve had this winter in Colorado, and it was a big one.  Monty would have loved it.  If Monty was still here, he would have woken me up at dawn with an excitement of a child on Christmas morning. SNOW!  He would run out into the yard and not come back when called until he was completely run out and covered in the white stuff.

Monty was named Montreal at the Elmbrook Humane Society, and he was from a western Wisconsin farm that was hording over 70 dogs.  Just a puppy, he was underweight, not socialized, and terrified of the world.  Monty wouldn’t walk unless he could be walking along a wall, and would pee himself if you touched him.

I adopted Monty in February, during the year I was between undergrad and graduate school.  I worked at a law firm as a receptionist at the time and was living with my parents, because I had lost all my money trying to make it work in California (total fail, except that I got Loki there).  I was only 22 years old, and Monty was about 7 months old.

Monty would be with me through graduate school, through dozens of boyfriends, multiple jobs, well over 20,000 miles of driving (including the 10 year birthday celebration road trip to the Oregon coast and back).  We lived in three states together, in eight different places, and I bought my house partly due to the large yard that I knew Monty would love.  We ran over 20 5ks together as a team.  Monty was the best brother for both Loki and Calliope.  He was also a wonderful foster helper, teaching dogs the ropes of being an indoor pup (including Penny and Gizmo!), and letting kittens play with his big fluffy tail.

Monty loved cooler temperatures, and while he would come up on the bed when I was first there reading and getting ready to sleep, once the lights were off he would jump down and go lay on the coolest floors (bathroom or front door entrance thanks to the tile).  When my alarm would go off in the morning, he would wait to hear me get up and go into the bathroom before he so jubilantly would come bid me good morning.  He would literally wait until he heard the toilet cover touch the back tank to come running.

His fur was so soft.  I was constantly asked if he had just gotten a bath when people would pet him.  No, he was just that soft!  We couldn’t go anywhere without at least one person commenting on how handsome Monty was, asking me what type of dog he was, and then being all shocked when I told him he wasn’t some fancy purebred pup.

He hated rumble strips on the road, bath time, bugs (especially ones that went near his butt!), and was not a big fan of children.  He was pretty much indifferent about other dogs, with just a select few of good friends (Lando and Roo!).

He loved swimming (eventually!), chasing shadows and lights, shredding paper, playing fetch, jumping and biting at the air (getting those mind bunnies!), treats in toys, and belly rubs.  He liked to put his paw into this mouth while laying on his back like a total weirdo.  When entering a room or area with many people, Monty wanted to say “hi” and get pets from everyone, so he would work his way around to get everybody at least once.

The sheer excitement and ridiculous noises Monty would make when I came home were the best part of my day.  No one will ever be so happy to see me as Monty was after we had been apart, even if just for an hour.

He was my heart for almost 11 years.

When we got the news of this second cancer, one we could do nothing to battle, it was the most devastating shock.  The CSU oncology team told me we had hours, maybe a few days if we were lucky.  They offered to put Monty down then and there, but after I learned from them he was not currently in pain, I took him home.

The next week was dedicated to Monty.  We went to all his favorite spots, spent hours out in the back yard sitting in sun and watching the squirrels.  I got Monty every human food I could imagine a pup would want:  hamburger, chicken strips, bacon, hot dog, pepperoni pizza, ground beef.  He got all the treats in our cabinet.  We had several days of him being totally spoiled and getting all the love in we could with the little time we had left.  One evening, I let him outside to go do his bedtime business, and he wasn’t himself.  I went to pet him, and he rested his head in my hand and sighed.  It was time.  Monty passed peacefully at home.

I miss Sir Montague every day.  He was a one of a kind dog.  It has taken me so long to write this post, because I keep trying to make it perfect for him.  But I will never be able to truly articulate how wonderful he was.  This will have to do.  Monty was my heart, and he took a part of it with him.