On August first, dog shelters all across the country celebrate Dogust. It's a party meant to commemorate all of the dogs who entered the shelter system with no recognized birthday. Today is considered their birthday, and people from all sorts of communities come to shower these dogs with presents.
I support Dogust fully. But I also know that in many communities, including mine, dog overpopulation isn't a pressing animal issue. Cat overpopulation is. And many cats in shelters right now are languishing.
Because they're not kittens.
Because they have special needs.
Because they're seniors AND they have special needs.
Spot here is just one example. He's the oldest cat I have ever encountered in the shelter system, as he's 18yo. He looks his age, too. He has a big belly and a scrawny back, as do most elderly cats. And his eyes are a little cloudy with age. He doesn't groom himself effectively, so he's often got bits of loose hair flying around his week body. And some of his teeth are missing.
In addition, Spot is completely deaf. We're not sure how that happened, but it seems that Spot has been deaf for quite some time. And since he's deaf, he can't hear his own voice. From time to time, he calls out for people to pet him or feed him or love him. And those calls are just breathtakingly loud. He can't hear himself, and I'm sure he has no idea he's screaming. But screaming he is.
Spot's age and deafness make him a poor choice for multi-pet households. He's worried about other creatures sneaking up on him, and he can be defensive about his space. He also can't run from or defend himself from other animals. That means many people in my community who have met Spot think they can't bring him home. Since they can't integrate him with their pets, they think he won't be able to come with them.
But here's the thing.
A cat like Spot needs little more than a quiet back bedroom with a soft bed, plenty of food and frequent visitation. He won't be able to hear other pets, including barking dogs and mewling cats, so they won't bother him. And he won't care if you play your television at deafening rates or blast the radio. He can't hear it.
And he probably really doesn't have much time left. We're not talking about sacrificing a bedroom for a decade. He might just need that space for a year. He might only need it for a few months.
So on this Dogust, do consider helping a shelter dog. But, if you can, help Spot. If you're in Oregon, come to visit him at Willamette Humane Society and take him home. His adoption fee has been waived. Share his story with your Oregon friends, and see if they can help if you can't.
And if you're not in Oregon, look for the Spot cats in your community. Is there a cat that needs a temporary home? A foster home? A forever home? Look for ways to help them. You could even consider working as a virtual foster home for animals in your shelter.
Share your plans with me in the comments, won't you? I'd love to hear how you're planning to help.
20160805 update: Spot was adopted today!