You gotta see it to believe it

A new immigrant from Austin, TX, stopped in today to get to know more about us at SoHumane. I always love the chance to walk visitors around the kennel and talk about the work we do.
Today it seemed more gratifying than usual. Perhaps it was the great weather, or maybe seeing the contractors busily working on providing a warmer winter environment for our large dogs or maybe the 30 dogs that came in today from the high-kill shelters in the Fresno area.
Whatever it was, it was a great reminder of how much this organization has accomplished in the three short years since we sent out an SOS (Save Our Shelter) and the community responded.
We not only survived, we have thrived. Our adoptions are at record highs, we have steadily increased the animals rescued via our Saving Train program and our facilities are in the best shape they have been in decades – yes, decades.
Not to say that all perfect – we still have need for a lot of repairs and there are still too many animals dying in this country.
But today is a good day to be at SoHumane. I can live with that.

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Fosters Needed

Have you ever considered being a foster parent to an animal in need?

We are in need of people willing to foster animals that need a break from the stressful kennel environment or are recovering from illness (non-contagious) or a medical procedure.

Why should you consider fostering a dog or cat?

First and foremost, it can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. By opening your home – and your heart- to one of SoHumane’s animals, you are:
• Freeing up space in the kennels or cat room for another homeless animal
• Helping SoHumane learn more about an animal outside of the kennel environment, which will help us find a better match for a stressed-out pet.
• Providing shelter for an animal that needs a quiet place to recover from surgery or other medical procedure
• Giving an animal more socialization and house-training, vastly increasing their adoptibility.

So, what makes a good foster?

Patience and forgiveness: you’ll need both in order to overlook initial issues with fostering an animal who may be under high stress because of a medical issue or because the kennel environment freaks them out.

Also, your own animals need to be OK with other pets – not just at the dog park, but in their own home environment, where they consider you to be “their human” and might not be inclined to share.

If you would like more information on fostering, please contact Judi Hanstein, our volunteer coordinator, at Please put “Foster” in the subject line.

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Cat Got Your Tongue?

I’m a word freak. I admit it. I’ve always been fascinated by words – their origin, their impact, their use. Their, they’re, there.

I also love the origin of phrases. “Three sheets to the wind,” “rule of thumb,” “horsefeathers.”

I was thinking about “cat got your tongue?” this morning – don’t ask why – and decided to learn its origins. Turns out, there really isn’t any good documentation of the phrase. Lots of theories, but no facts.

But I tripped across a very recent and fascinating article from NPR about an English boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who didn’t speak for seven years until a stray cat came into his life. The story is paralleled with his mother’s own past of living with a “crazy cat lady” and vowing to never have cats in her home, but now finds herself caring for two ferals. You can read the transcript here.

Animals really do transform our lives. Their healing powers are well documented, but I fear I take that power for granted – especially days like today when I was too tired, too preoccupied, too lazy to take the dogs for their morning walk.

So I guess my rambling all comes down to this: Hug your cat, today.


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You can’t blame the washer anymore

Missing a sock?

Maybe you should look in your dog. The Veterinary Practice News released their annual X-ray competition, and second place (not first!) went to a Great Dane that had eaten 43 1/2 socks! You can check out all the X-rays here.

Dogs truly will eat anything. My Zed had an early attraction to plastics. Toys would disappear in seconds, Frisbees would fly down his gullet. He became particularly obsessed with the bright blue plastic bags that my Wall Street Journal came in on rainy days. If he got outside before I did, he would strip the bag off the paper and swallow it whole.

When cleaning up the yard each week, I would find his poop intermingled with the blue bag, which had passed through his system intact. I often wondered if he could be taught to poop inside the bag, making my job easier.

Recently, I discovered a bright green moss in the flower bed. It was that fluorescent green you see on dead manzanita out in the woods.

When I showed my discovery to my fellow gardener, he politely pointed out that it was the fuzz from a tennis ball that Zed had stripped off and swallowed.

Has your dog (or cat) eaten something extraordinarily weird? I’d love to hear about it.



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Just a heads up …

This is similar to the signs we put up, but were told to take back down.

So this happened last week:

And it’s an action that is long overdue.

Our wonderful volunteers show up 365 days a year, regardless of the weather, to walk the dogs. Because of our location on Table Rock Road, the only safe place to walk them is in the neighborhood across the street. But to get there, the volunteers need to be able to safely cross busy Table Rock Rd.

We’ve asked for guidance from the city, which has declined to put in a painted crosswalk, and were advised to put up signs alerting drivers to the pedestrians – legal pedestrians, I might ad. So we bought signs and put them up. The change was amazing. Fully half of the drivers stopped when they saw someone waiting to cross the road. Prior to the signs, the rate was about 5 percent of drivers. That’s a big change.

Then we were told the signs weren’t legal and we took them down. The Medford police committed to doing an enforcement action and the fact that 34 cars were stopped and cited or warned in a very short time comes as no surprise to me or to anyone else that crosses Table Rock.

Please remember that pedestrians have the right of way at an intersection – even if it is a T-intersection like ours or if the intersection does not have a marked crosswalk.

When in doubt if there is an implied or marked crosswalk – say someone is trying to cross mid-block – err on the side of grace and stop anyway. It’s the right thing to do.


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Not So Many (un)Happy Returns!

I like statistics, so I often see how SoHumane does against other similar organizations in our state and in the nation.
Overall, we do very good. Our average length of stay (from intake to adoption) is just at 2 weeks for dogs and 45 days for cats. The cat numbers are on par with state and national groups, but our dog numbers are very, very good.
So is our “return” rate – the percentage of animals that are returned within 30 days of adoption. We’ve been hovering right at 8 percent, which is exceptionally low. But for 2014, that percentage has dropped to a mere 6.
I believe we have such low returns because the staff works hard to make a good match, not just make any match. If they believe the animal you have chosen isn’t the best fit, they will tell you so AND also provide some alternatives. If you still think your first choice is the best, they will give you some good advice on how to overcome some of the obstacles they see and, always, our staff is available by phone to help talk you though some rough spots.
Finding the right home for cats and dogs isn’t an exact science, but the men and women at SoHumane do a darn good job at it.

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Biscuits R Us

While at the coast last weekend, I had an epiphany – something I hadn’t really given much notice to suddenly became clear:

My dogs Zed believes that drive-through windows exist for only one reason: the dispensing of dog biscuits.

I noticed this because when I pulled up to a drive-through espresso shop, he went into the hysterics normally reserved for pulling into a friends driveway or turning up the dirt road to our camp in Scott Valley.

At the pharmacy, the bank, the Human Bean – every where we go that has a drive-though, the business has recognized that’s it’s good business to treat dogs as customers.

And, as Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing.


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Give a Hoot

I’ve spent a lot of time in the South Pacific, mostly on small islands. I love the people, the culture, the food – all of it except the trash. I can be on a small beach on a tiny island and see trash left there by people. This isn’t trash that washes up, it’s left by locals and tourists.

I asked a Chamorro (native to Guam) friend who used to be a park ranger in Idaho and he said he thought it was because people who had spent their whole lives on the island didn’t understand how rare the beauty of the place was and took it for granted.

I bring this up because I decided to get away this weekend by driving to the coast, then turning inland and following the Chetco as far as possible to find a remote camping site. I love to camp, but I don’t like campground. That’s why I like dispersed camping on Forest Service and BLM lands.

I got there after dark and had to back out of a few spots that were already occupied before finding a desolate camping spot right on the Chetco, just 15 feet from the river bank. Perfect! The dogs were able to wander around and not disturb anyone as I looked at the stars and counted satelittes.

I woke the next morning anticipating spending time just “dogging around” on the river. As soon as the dogs were out of the truck, they began exploring again. One look showed me why they were so anxious to get out of the truck.

There was trash everywhere. Empty beer and soda cans. empty hot dog packages, empty chip bags. Zed was digging in the sand behind a bush and I saw white toilet paper. Gross.

I had to put them back in the truck before they made themselves sick. I packed up and left disgusted.

Oregon is a beautiful state, but perhaps – like some South Pacific islands – people take it for granted.

Clean up your act, Oregon – I doubt there were many tourists who found their way to this remote site.


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Consider Yourself Part of the Family

I’m on my own this week, which means full responsibility for the two dogs! That means I HAVE to walk them every morning (no hitting the snooze button a couple of times a week), and go home at lunch to let them out and spend a little time with them. They’re used to having a human around at least 20 hours a day, but are good about being on their own.

I guess I could leave them out in the yard all day, or they’d probably be fine inside for 8 hours with no accidents. But that’s not how I treat family.

For most of us, dogs and cats are family. And at SoHumane, we want the entire family involved in making the decision to adopt a pet.

That’s one of the reasons that if you already have a dog, we require you to bring it in for a monitored “meet and greet” with the dog you want to adopt. If gives us a chance to help you learn how to integrate a new dog into a family with existing pets.

We also want you to bring the kids, spouses – anyone who is going to live with the animal. Being open on weekends helps make this possible, but closing at 5 on weekdays can still make it hard for everyone to get to our facilities at Table Rock Road.

That’s why we’re hosting a Hot August Nights event this  Friday and Saturday. We’re staying open until 8 p.m. each night and have lots of family events – prizes, games, a Barking Lot Sale, free popcorn – even a dunking tank featuring yours truly.

So if you’re thinking about adopting, or just want to hang out with some cool cats, come on down this weekend and say hello. You never know who you might run into!


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Cold Nose Girl Find a Warm Place

Remember the two dogs that I found tied by their leashes to our fence? I wrote about it here.

The larger, younger female quickly found a home with a previous owner, who had given the dog to someone else and was horrified to learn that, years later, the dog had ended up tied to a fence (we were able to find the woman through the registration of the dog’s microchip).

The other dog, an older female Aussie mix, has not fared as well. Suzy, as we’ve come to call her, has lingered at our shelter. She is a sweet dog, but is old. She also has a kidney issue that requires special (and pricey) food.

But I have good news to report. Suzy will become a permanent foster dog at the Addictions Recovery Center in-patient treatment facility. She will be the second senior dog that we have placed with this wonderful agency, which helps people deal with their addictions.

Because it is a treatment center, it is staffed 24 hours a day. That means Suzy will never be alone again. If she needs to go out, someone will be there. If she wants some attention, someone will be there. If she wants to just sleep quietly, someone will be there when she wakes up.

What more could a dog ask for?

Thank you, ARC, for helping humans and animals get to wellness.

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  • Blog Author

    Kenn Altine

    Kenn Altine is the executive director of, the Southern Oregon Humane Society. He and the SoHumane staff are committed to helping cats and dogs that have lost everything, including the only home they may have ever known. Through the ... Read Full
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