Week 45: Kids and Kitties for one last week in Columbus

Project: Elementary School and Colony Cats

Actual Time Taken: 3 hours

It was our last week here in Columbus, and our last week is always a bit hectic. Between packing, finding a new place to live in the next city, and cramming all the things you meant to do before you left a city, I didn’t have enough time to hit all three places I’ve been volunteering here in Columbus. But the two I did get to were so much fun, and I’m so thankful that they were able to have me again!

I went back to visit my friend who teaches a class of autistic children at an elementary school in a Columbus suburb one last time. Her kids actually remembered me, which I didn’t expect, and one child said “Oh, the Lion King agaaaain?” when I walked in. I thought it was hilarious, replying that it was nice to see him too.

I didn’t have any coloring pages to bring, so I helped them with their afternoon activities on the iPad, played a few board games, made fun sand castles with some weird kinetic sand, and helped them with counting on the computer. I was so happy to see their completed Lion King gallery of watercolor works of art from the coloring pages I had brought them the last week. We had a great time, with one of them asking if I could “Come back in two days?” I replied that I so wish I could, and believe me, if I lived here, I would be in that class room every week. Those kids seriously stole my heart.

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Their Lion King watercolor art gallery

On the way out I got to pop into the teachers bathroom and was amused by the sensation that was clearly left over from my own elementary school years- I wasn’t supposed to be in there- only teachers are allowed in the teachers lounge! Oooooo, I’m gonna tell!!! (Some things never change, huh?) Hanging on the wall in the stalls were adorable white boards for the teachers to ‘talk’ to each other, which I found hilarious.

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Official teacher-bathroom ‘grafiti’

I also got to make one last trip to the Colony Cats, and I found that as I was cleaning, I kept looking out for that tiny little black kitten who was so in love with me last week.

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A fully occupied cat-tree-apartment

I made my way though the various rooms in the colony, cleaning as I subtly searched for Mario. I felt like a girl at a school dance, hoping that the boy I had a crush on was there, but not being overt in my search for him.

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No sign of Mario here in the nap room… (Who am I kidding- they’re all the ‘nap’ rooms)

As I went along I found evidence of the same shenanigans that my cat gets into at my house, including his fascination with rolls of paper, be it of the toilet or of the towel variety.

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<– Paper towel and toilet paper rolls

just aren’t safe here… —>

I still couldn’t find my little friend, so I went next door to where they keep the ill cats in quarantine, for their own healing and to mitigate their contagion from spreading though out the population. Each cage had a tag attached to it explaining the cat’s ailment or background and some of them were absolutely heart breaking. Some were ‘surrenders,’ from owners who no longer wanted the cat, and some had serious illnesses, such as one kitten who was battling cerebal palsy.

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  <— The quarantined kitties and their life stories —>

This side of the Colony was hard to see, but it was also really great to see what great care these cats are getting, even if they are being rescued while battling some kind of illness.

I looked high and low in both rooms of the Colony and couldn’t find the affectionate black kitten from last week. Finally, I asked one of the volunteers about his fate, and she cheerfully reported that he had been adopted out.

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Mario is at some loving home somewhere in Columbus now. What a lucky family to have such a love bug!

Part of me was terribly disappointed- I had already decided that if he was still at the Colony I would take him home. But another part of me was relieved. We really don’t have room in our lives for another pet right now, and I was so happy to hear that he had found a forever home with a  loving family. I mean, who could blame them- he was the cutest, most affectionate cat I had ever seen! Of course he was adopted. So I heaved a heavy sigh, perked up at the thought of him having a good home, and finished up cleaning the Colony one last time.

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Another super sweet kitty who needs a home!

I had such a great time volunteering at all the places I got to in Columbus- from petting bunnies to scooping litter to hanging out with some very special kids, Columbus was surprisingly fun for me, and I will definitely miss these very special non-profits when I leave at the end of the week!

All pictures by me!

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Week 43: Does petting bunnies count as volunteering?

Project: Ohio House Rabbit Rescue

Actual Time Taken: 1.5 hours

This weeks’ project was once again supplied by the wonderful site VolunteerMatch.org. If you ever, ever need help finding a volunteering project, I highly recommend this site. You can search by city or by the issue you’re interested in helping out. I punched in “Columbus, Ohio” and “Animals,” and had a bunch of great projects to choose from. Last week I helped out with kitties, so this week I moved over to bunnies.

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Apparently, since rabbits are historically (and biologically) prey animals, they are generally scared of huge hulking beings hovering over them. We gigantic humans resemble bears, cats, wolves, bobcats, dogs and other predatory animals at first glance, so the rabbits’ first instinct is to turn tail and hide.

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Trying to lure a shy gal out her hut.

So to counteract millennia of evolution, the Ohio House Rabbit Rescue asks volunteers to come in to socialize these little guys and teach them that not all humans are all that bad. Most of these rabbits have been rescued by staff or volunteers of the non-profit, and a very select few have been given up by their owners. After such a traumatic experience, I would be afraid of us humans too.

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Bribing a bun with a wicker chew.

This is one volunteer opportunity that my friends at work were eager to help out with, (really? No takers to scoop poop? Ok then…) so one of my dear friends Dionne (our physical therapist on the road) and I showed up at 3:30 for our quick orientation which consisted of being told to talk softly to the rabbits, step into the open enclosure, sit down, and wait for the bunny to approach.

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This little girl has already found a forever home! Yippie!

Once the rabbit is near you, keep talking in low tones and pet them. Apparently, these two things are all the bunny wants from you. They’re quite social animals and want a significant amount of interaction from their human friends.

The first bunny I interacted with was Clover, a sweet and extremely soft-furred-rabbit of the Rex species.

2014-10-21 16.00.20   2014-10-21 16.01.50 At first, she was a little shy, but eventually she warmed up to me

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I kid you not when I say that this species of rabbit have the SOFTEST fur I’ve ever felt. It was like petting a stuffed animal for 15 minutes, and she even almost fell asleep while I was sitting with her!

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I moved around the room and made lots of new friends, including this big guy, who goes by the name of Snowy. This hulking Norwegian rabbit was as big as a house cat and really needed some love and attention- I managed to groom off another bunny’s worth of fur from this sweet guy!

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I absolutely fell in love with a few of these buns, including Zia (On the left) and Frasier (On the right) Zia had the most beautiful blue eyes and loved all the attention she was getting, and Frasier was the cutest Lion Head rabbit with tufts of hair that were like a little mane behind his ears.

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Some buns really wanted (and needed) lots of attention and love, like Jasper here. He would hop over to the side of the enclosure when I came near and stand up on his hind legs or try to jam his face through the bars, hoping to get a pat or two.

Once again, I found that I had lost track of time (turning into a trend with these animal-centric volunteering gigs- I’m having so much fun I don’t want to leave!) and we had to run to work, so we said goodbye to our soft, sweet new friends and headed out. We will be going back next week and I know it’s going to take everything in my power not to come home with a new furry friend… (danger, DANGER Seena Robinson!)

All photos taken by me!

If you are interested in welcoming a sweet bunny into your home, or just want to help support this non-profit organization that relies entirely on donation (amazing!) visit their website here!

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Week 42: Cleaning Kitty Boxes is…. Fun?!?

Project: Volunteering for Colony Cats in Columbus

Time Taken: 3.5 hours

Here’s a sentence I never thought I would say: I had so much fun scooping poop out of litter boxes, I lost track of time.

Yeah. Weird for me too.

I found Colony Cats via VolunteerMatch.org before I had even left Boston, hoping to get a jump on my one-hour-a-week-of-volunteering mission. Colony Cats was one that jumped out at me right away.

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Having a feline friend of my own, I immediately was interested in getting to play with other fur balls, and signed up right away.

I showed up at the crack of 9 am the first day of volunteering sleepy but excited. (Shows get out around 11 pm every night and we had just been though moving from Boston and performing in our opening week in Columbus, which is always exhausting. So 9 am may as well have been 6 for all my body knew)

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I walked into the store-front of the Colony, which had a nice glass front for the kitties to watch the swarming packs of birds. These flocks seemed to know that they had the power to mock these captive kitties from the safety of the other side of the glass and hung around all morning, causing a few frustrated outbursts from the Colony Cats.

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“Hey. You have thumbs. Let me out so I can get a bird!”

The inside of the facility is a series of different rooms made homey with cat trees and benches for the kitties to play and nap on all over. It smelled to high heaven, of course, so I met everyone who was volunteering, had a brief orientation, and got quickly to work.

Litter boxes a-go-go!

First order of business- cleaning the numerous litter boxes that lined every room. There were about 135 cats in the facility, one volunteer estimated, so there was lots of scooping to be done. They use the clay based litter, making the… ahem.. wet parts of the litter quite heavy. At the end of the day I was sporting a sore shoulder and hand from the sheer force I had to exert on the metal scooper to get the job done!

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An impressive fur ball I made from brushing the cat trees.

After the litter is cleaned, I brushed all of the carpeted cat trees to get the fur from napping cats off, and then swept and mopped the floor.

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Right after cleaning the cat trees, they were immediately repopulated. Note their very own fish tank to enjoy!

All this took about an hour, and that was just the front room! The other, more experienced volunteers seemed to be flying through their sections and I vowed that by the end of my monthly visits it would take me less than an hour per room to clean!

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My clean front room!

After I was done with two rooms, it felt so good to look back over my work and see (and smell!) the difference. It seems like such a small task, but somehow noticing how the little dust bunnies of cat hair were gone and how the room was much more manageably cat-smelling, I was incredibly proud of myself and felt quite rewarded.

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“Can you pet me now, please?” – One adoptable kitty who lost his eye in a fight before he was taken in by the Colony.

I was so engrossed with cleaning that I literally lost track of time and missed an appointment with my personal trainer! (Sorry Heidi!) No one was more surprised with this than me. Cleaning my own cat’s litter box is one of the more loathed chores in my house, so the fact that I spent almost four hours cleaning hundred’s of other cat’s poop and having a good time was strange for me to realize!

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Cat fight!

After I was done cleaning, I hung out with a few of the more needy kitties. So many times while I was cleaning a kitty would mew for attention, try to play with my brush, or rub on my leg to try to get some love. Lots of the cats are absolutely love bugs, and I would take 10 to 15 minute breaks just losing myself in the soft fur of one of these attention-starved babies.

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Lots of kitties to love on!

So at the end of my shift, I rewarded myself with some one-on-one attention for the more needy souls in the facility, like this one sweetheart of a cat, who had lost an eye in a cat fight before being rescued. All he wanted was for me to talk to him and give him scratches under his chin, mewing indigently in protest when I stopped.

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“Love me! Looooove me!”

I was exhausted from my morning of scooping and lifting and mopping at the Colony, I walked back into this:

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Classic Copeland.

Apparently Copeland decided to protest his once-every-other-day litter box cleaning schedule and tell me exactly how he felt about it. I sighed, retrieved my broom and dust pan, and got right back to work.

All pictures by Me!

If you want to add a feline friend to your life, or want to donate to this wonderful charity, click here!

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