by Arna Cohen
Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Why, Lil Bub, of course. The tiny feline with enormous green eyes and a pink tongue that constantly peeks out of her mouth took the Web by storm from the moment her owner posted her photo online last year. Now the Internet sensation has melted hearts at the Tribeca Online Film Festival. Viewers gave the Best Feature award to Lil Bub and Friendz, a documentary about the kitten-sized kitty’s travels around the country fundraising for animal shelters. Bub was born to a feral mother in Bloomington, Ind., although she herself believes she arrived on Earth in a spaceship and has the pictures to prove it. The petite pussycat owes her unusual looks and small stature to dwarfism and several other birth defects, says her owner, Mike Bridavsky, whose first priority is Bub’s well-being. Whenever Bridavsky travels for work, Bub tags along and makes personal appearances at shelters, where fans line up for hours to meet her. “It’s a lot of work for me,” he says. “When she gets tired, she just goes to sleep.” To date, the appearances have raised more than $60,000 for shelters and rescues, including the Oregon Humane Society, Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition, and City of Bloomington Animal Shelter. Bridavsky also donates 30 percent of the proceeds from online sales of Bub-wear. Lil Bub’s life story, Lil Bub’s Lil Book: The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet, will be published in September.
Helping you help dogs
The meeting between Chrissie and Dwight in July 2002 was one that would change lives. Chrissie was a large, middle-aged, black-and-white dog who had been left at an animal shelter in Santa Barbara, Calif. Depressed, withdrawn, and suffering from neglect, the border collie mix resisted efforts by the shelter staff to comfort her. A few days after arriving, she spotted Dwight Lowell, who was there to participate in a shelter program, not adopt a dog. But Chrissie had other plans. She ran to Lowell and jumped up on him, barking excitedly, and that was that: They went home together, the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Chrissie spent four love-filled years with Lowell (a former HSUS board member) and his wife Kim before passing away at the age of 11. The couple now shares their home with adopted dogs Boss, a pit bull, and Nina, a large mixed breed. Long involved with animal welfare organizations, the Lowells are particularly concerned about the well-being of harder-to-place dogs like Chrissie—large mixed breeds, large seniors, and pit bull types—and have partnered with The HSUS to establish The Lowell Fund to benefit them. The Fund provides grants to shelters and rescues to assist with providing medical treatment and finding homes for such dogs and to promote public appreciation for them. “[Chrissie] changed my life,” says Lowell. “I want another human being and another dog to have a chance at what Chrissie and I had.” For information on how to apply for a grant from The Lowell Fund, go to animalsheltering.org/lowellfund.
Rocky Mountain highlight
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s first stop of the day on May 13 was the Denver Animal Shelter. When he emerged, Colorado officially had a new state pet. A dog lover, and the owner of a rescued canine, Hickenlooper signed a bill that day to declare shelter dogs and cats to be Colorado’s official state pets. The idea was first proposed by middle school students from Peakview School in Walsenburg who were studying the legislative process. The students traveled to Denver to testify at hearings, but getting the bill passed wasn’t a cakewalk—it faced surprisingly stiff opposition. Some groups wanted the honor to go to service dogs and other heroic canines, some felt the bill would hurt ownership of purebred dogs, and some thought it discriminated against other pets. Kaylee Summers, a 14-year-old Peakview student attending a Senate committee hearing, told The Denver Post: “The argument swung between service dogs and shelter dogs. It was difficult to decide, because both sides made sense.” Eleven other states have official pets, but Colorado is the first to shine the spotlight on shelter animals. Raise the woof!
Tunes for terriers
The video opens with the deafening barking of agitated dogs at an Ohio animal shelter. A time counter runs at the bottom of the frame. In less than a minute, one dog after another falls silent and curls up on his bed for a snooze. All that can be heard are the soft, mesmerizing sounds of violins, piano, and harp. This is Calming Music for Pets, currently being used in more than 550 shelters across the country to soothe stressed animals while they await new homes. The music is loaded onto Mp3 players, which are provided to the shelters free of charge by the Rescue Animal Mp3 Project, the brainchild of holistic veterinarian Pamela Fisher of New Canton, Ohio. She was inspired by the positive response her patients had to this type of music and asked a variety of musicians to donate original compositions to the project. We’re not talking Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or Ride of the Valkyries; these mellow works are written specifically to appeal to dogs’ and cats’ sensitivities to certain vibrations and tones. Bonus: Shelter personnel say the music calms them as well. To watch the video and apply for free music, go to rescueanimalmp3.org.
Read the rest of this issue from Animal Sheltering magazine