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IamMoshow Steals the Show at the Animal Welfare Expo

posted March 28th, 2017 by
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Nicole Castillo

IamMoshow Steals the Show at the Animal Welfare ExpoIamMoshow

The Animal Welfare Expo, organized by Hands Helping Paws, was a bright and cheery event on a cold and windy Saturday morning. The Cleveland County fairgrounds building was lined with booths and vendors, educating the public about organizations such as Wildcare Oklahoma, Best Friends of Pets, and vendors were selling everything from pet beds to custom collars. When the clock struck 12:45, visitors began to meander over to the stage in the corner of the large area. I stood in the crowd, listening to conversations about the Cat Rapper, whom we were waiting to appear.

IamMoshow, or Moshow the Cat Rapper is a music artist who resides Portland, Oregon and spreads positivity and cat love wherever he goes. He has a degree in Computer Science from York College in Pennsylvania, but realized that he had other dreams. He moved to the west coast, and has been pursuing his passion ever since. He is owned by four cats, three Sphinx, Tali, Sushi, and Magamam, and a Devon Rex named Raviloi. These fabulous felines appear in videos with IamMoshow and steal the show with their adorable antics and dance moves.

IamMoshowHands Helping Paws invited him to perform at the Animal Welfare expo in Norman. The crowd grew in number and excitement to see this unique character. I could tell some of the patrons followed him closely on Facebook because they were talking about his unfortunate flight to Oklahoma. Due to multiple delays and flight cancellations, he spent the night at the Houston airport, and arrived at Will Rogers just hours before his performance.

IamMoshow took the stage a little after 1pm and his fans cheered. Charismatic, talented, and humble, he warmed the crowd up with songs like, “Cat Emotions” and “Cat King“. There were two ladies on stage as well, each with a cat who was eligible for adoption, and he danced with and cuddled the felines. He brought a handful of children onstage and asked them what their dreams were, and told them to never stop reaching for their goals. “I’m from Perkins home projects, Baltimore Maryland, in the hood, and if I can make it out, anyone can be who they want to be in this world. Don’t let people put you in a box. I just want everybody to know that I 100% do this from my heart; not to be popular, cool, or for any attention. I do this because this is literally who I am and who I was born to be.”

IamMoshowBy the middle of his performance, everyone was moving to the beat. He had us waving our hands in the air with the song, “Adopt a Cat“, and brought down the house with “Cat Wine“. He even gave an encore with a reprise of “Cat Emotions”. He thanked everyone for coming and went backstage for a few minutes before coming back out to sign autographs and take pictures. The crowd immediately began forming a line at the stage, and I sneaked backstage and ask the Cat Rapper some purrsonal questions.

Tell me about your cats? Is there a reason you love the Sphinx breed?

Actually yes, there is a reason. All my life I’ve been the underdog, well I should say undercat, of people overlooking me and doubting me, or judging me by how I look. I just felt like with the Sphinx, I understand them. People will say, “Oh, I’m a cat person.” And I show them pictures of my Sphinx and they say, “Ew.”

I feel their pain and connect with them. You know, they’re bald, I’m bald, I just feel like we got this whole connection thing going on. I love them because they are different, because I am different.

Sushi and Megamam are sisters. I got them together from the same litter. I went back and adopted the mom, Tali, because no one wanted her. Sometimes the mothers get overlooked.

Now, Ravioli will fool you. He’s got the good looks and the curly hair but at the same time, he’s so bad. He’ll be eating your food and you’re so mesmerized by his curls that you don’t even realize it!

Who is your favorite cat celebrity?IamMoshow

Mine, I’ll be honest with you. But if I have to pick another it would be Sparkle, the One-Eyed Cat and Weaver.

Are you affiliated with any charities or organizations?

I work with a lot of humane societies back home in Portland, the Oregon Humane Society cat adoption team, and much more!

Any upcoming events?

I’ll be performing, doing shows throughout Portland, Washington, LA, and many more. The name of my new project coming out April 6th is called CAT LOVE EP! It will be available on ALL platforms! iTunes, Google Play, Amazon. All of the platforms!

If a movie was to be made about your cats, who would be their voice actors?

Tali – Tina Fey

Sushi – Jennifer Aniston

Ravioli – Kevin Hart

Megamam – Mindy Kaling

IamMoshowIamMoshow was a pleasure to meet and interview. You could tell he was exhausted but he gave each fan his full attention. His genuine adoration of felines and catpeople was palpable. You can follow IamMoshow on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Once again, I am in awe of the magic of animal people. No matter where I roam, I can always find a certain brand of love at pet events. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we’re from, we all connect with one another through our passion for animals.

 

All photos except my selfie are courtesy of IamMoshow.

 

Valir Hospets in Need of Volunteers

posted March 24th, 2017 by
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Nicole Castillo

Valir Hospets is a pet therapy program of Valir Hospice.

This service is for patients in the program who live in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Valir started this pawsitive program back in 2005 and its patients have benefited from thousands of visits from their four-legged friends. What better medicine than a happy tail wag or soft snuggle to boost your health and well-being?

HosPets-couchThe power of animal companionship has a plethora of positive health effects. Patients relax in the presence of the hospets and are able to focus on interacting with the furry visitor and not their illness. This program reduces the weight of anxiety and depression in residents, giving them something to look forward to. Hospets provide physical affection, love, and friendship. Visits  are good for the pet, patient, and pet owner. Imagine how fulfilling it would be to spread that kind of happiness to those that need it. Do you and your pet have what it takes to become a Hospet volunteer team?

The success of this program has created a call for more pet/owner volunteers. Well-mannered and calm animals must pass the Canine Good Citizen examination and Therapy Dog International (TDI) test, and have proof of vaccinations. As a pet owner, you must complete the Valir Hospice volunteer training.

“To become a volunteer with a pet, the training requires the pet to become certified as a pet therapy animal. This entails basic obedience classes 1 and 2 and the Canine Good Citizen Test, which focuses more on testing the dog in specific environments, encountering things they might meet with on visits, such as exposing them to different smells, wheelchairs, walkers, loud sounds etc. The dog’s response to presented stimuli is critical during this test.” says Lindsey Dietz, Marketing and Communications Specialist. “The handler must become a volunteer with Valir.  The person will go through an orientation process and training regarding what hospice is and their role as a volunteer.”Valir Hospice pet therapy dog Ted in roses (3)

The reward of becoming a Valir Volunteer would be to see a patient’s face light up when your pet walks into the room. You know your dog is special. How about sharing that wonderful animal with those that need a friend? For more information about the Hospet program, check out valir.com, on Facebook, or give them a call at 405-609-3636.

Supply and Demand

posted March 18th, 2017 by
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Supply and Demand

Supply and Demand

Supply and DemandThere is a direct correlation between supply and demand.  A long time ago, there were Cabbage Patch dolls.  My daughter was the target age at that time and, yes, her world included one of the dolls.  Were they overpriced – – yes; did they remain a collector’s item – no; did supply eventually exceed demand –  – yes.  The same philosophy applies to limited edition cars, trucks, jewelry, and clothing.  Yes I have one expensive purse.   Is the brand as expensive today as it was 10 years ago – – No, not even close.  The supply eventually outnumbered the demand, other purses caught the attention of women and today you can buy one of the purses at a reasonable price.

This correlation also applies to dogs and cats in rural Oklahoma.  There is a consistent over-supply of cute, adorable, big, little, fluffy dogs and sweet, purring cats.  Because the supply far outweighs the demand, their value in the marketplace is diminished in Oklahoma.  Thankfully for all of us involved in rescue, the demand outstrips the supply in other states.  As a result, every week hundreds of Oklahoma dogs (and many cats) find themselves in a van, the back of an SUV, or riding shot-gun – headed to their new home. 

An example is Miss Dixie and her puppies.  She was homeless.  Fortunately, for her and her puppies, she was rescued and gave birth at the Richardson Birthing Center. Fast forward several weeks.  Miss Dixie and her puppies arrived at Dumb Friends League in Denver, Colorado.  Within a week all of them (including Miss Dixie) had new homes.  They have a demand, we have the supply.

We are working very hard to diminish the over-supply.  Once that happens, Oklahoma dogs and cats will have a higher value.  We’re working very hard to make this a reality.

Bon Voyage to Sauerkraut, Our Oklahoma Celebrity Cat

posted February 28th, 2017 by
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Nicole Castillo

We are losing a tiny legend this week.

SauerkrautSauerkraut, Oklahoma’s own celebrity cat, will be moving to Michigan with her family this Saturday. Sauerkraut has attained social media fame with almost 150,000 followers on Instagram and close to 20,000 on Facebook. Her message is positivity, adopting special needs animals, and foster care. Amy and Partrick Bender, Sauerkraut’s Humom and Pops, have fostered over 400 kittens in the metro. They work closely with Central Oklahoma Humane Society, taking in mostly special needs litters, bottle-feeding and nursing them back to health. There is a bright and cheery cat room in their house, devoted to the tiny balls of fur until they are ready to find their forever home. In fact, Sauerkraut was one of Amy’s foster kittens.

Amy labels herself a “professional volunteer” and that couldn’t be more correct. She has inspired many individuals to open their hearts and homes to foster animals and makes each day brighter with Sauerkraut’s posts on Facebook. The Benders have attended pet events in the metro, including the Internet Cat Video Festival at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. I first met Sauerkraut at this venue and it was love at first sight. She was so little and adorable, sitting in a cat stroller in her pink dress. Sauerkraut has a condition called hypersthesia, which makes the nerve endings on her skin extra sensitive. She wears dresses to calm her and stop her from licking her herself raw. This just makes this dainty, sour-faced cat even more irresistible.

Sauerkraut has been featured on Animal Planet, Time.com, People.com, Huffington Post, Catster, and many more. She has a loyal following of all ages. Amy got a message from a woman who wanted to put Sauerkraut’s picture on her mom’s birthday cake. The mother was turning eighty and adored the little cSauerkrautat. Amy said of course they could use a picture, and even put together a little birthday bag of Sauerkraut goodies to send to the woman. You can learn more about Sauerkraut’s adventures on her website, sauerkrautkitty.com, Facebook, and Instagram.

IMG_2670BrockIMG_2672Brock, The GeneralI visited Sauerkraut at her home for one last interview. I was greeted by Amy, Patrick, Sauerkraut and her siblings: Brock, The General and the elusive motley-colored Molly. I had a bag of catnip toys I made for this group and sprinkled them about the living room. The cats started pouncing on them at once as Sauerkraut looked on from her perch atop a cat tree by the window. As we sat down, she quietly slid out a screen cat door to her special catio in the warm afternoon sun. I talked with Amy and Patrick while The General, a spicy Himalayan kitten, terrorized Brock, a majestically large gray tabby. Brock is a ham and when he tires of The General’s shenanigans, he just rolls over and sits on him. Problem solved. When the The General finally wore himself out and collapsed mid-stretch on the rug, Sauerkraut joined our palaver. She started playing with one of the kicker sticks I made and Amy and Patrick were amazed because she is not usually a fan of toys. This completely made my day. I promised to send her more toys in the future. Knowing this was my last time to interview her in person, I had some deep questions to ask her and her parents.Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, who is your favorite fellow celebrity cat?

Lil Bub, paws down, our messages are very similar and we both want to give back to cats in need.

Sauerkraut, I know you dream of world dominion. What would your first edict be if you achieved this goal?

I would immediately ban declawing cats.

Amy and Patrick, if Sauerkraut’s life was made into a movie, who would she want to be her voice actor?

Amy: Cameron Diaz, because she can be snotty without being mean.

Patrick: I have actually thought about this, and Scarlett Johansson has the right voice.

Amy and Patrick, what will you miss most about Oklahoma?

Amy: The people. I have never lived more than forty-five minutes from the spot I was born at OU Medical Children’s, so it’s going big a big change.

Patrick: She has had a great support group through OK Humane and they’ve done a lot for us and we’ve tried to do a lot for them too. They’re a wonderful group of people. It’s going to be hard to leave.

sauerkrautAs hard as it is to see our Sauerkraut move, we know our little Oklahoma native will continue to be an advocate for animals in need and we can still follow her through social media. So farewell, our sweet Kraut. Safe travels and keep up the good work.

On a side note, my husband, Carlos, thinks Kraut’s voice would be best played by Melissa McCarthy and I think Queen Latifah would be the perfect fit. Go figure.

 

Photos courtesy of Carlos Castillo

Sarge

posted February 17th, 2017 by
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Looking Back

Sarge

Sarge changed my life.  While I was at Second Chance Animal Sanctuary in Norman, they were (and continue to be) part of the Friends for Folks dog training program at the prison in Lexington.  I’d worked out an agreement with Lee, who ran the program, that he could select 3 dogs and we would get to give him one. 

Lee came into the facility, picked his three and I then took him to Sarge’s kennel.  He was met with growls – lots of growls – from a grumpy, irritated gray schnauzer.  Lee said “I’m not taking that dog”.  My response was “We had an agreement.”   It took a few minutes of convincing, but Sarge went to the training program.

Fast forward 6 months, the phones are ringing, dogs are barking and the cats are serenading.  Lee calls me and says something to the effect “We have a dog who is going to the Norman Veterans Center to be their resident greeter.”  I’m sure I responded appropriately.  Then he said “Do you know which dog?”  My answer “No”.  He said “Sarge”.  I know there were a few seconds of dead silence before I said “Sarge, are you sure it’s Sarge?”.  Yes it was Sarge.

We were also privileged to be part of the documentary The Dogs of Lexington.  You can go to you tube – type in the title and select the one by John Otto.  43 minutes long, so have your beverage of choice handy while you watch.  You will see Sarge at his grumpiest, his transformation under the care of Mr. Miller – an inmate- at the prison, and his triumphant introduction to the veterans at the center in Norman.

Then in 2015, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association gave their “Hero Dog of the Year Award” to Sarge.  It still gives me goose bumps when I remember watching Sarge confidently standing on the stage, then a few minutes later he realized one of the veterans who was in attendance needed reassuring.  Sarge quietly went over to his wheelchair and jumped up in his lap so he could be petted.  Sarge just knew.

SargeToday, PAAS is involved with a training program at NOCC (Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center).  We see the transformation in the inmates chosen for the program as well as the shelter dogs who live with them.  Programs like this change lives – – those of the inmate, their family, the shelter dog, those of us at PAAS who witness the transformation, and the lucky people who adopt a PAAS/NOCC graduate.

This is a picture of Sarge – – – – miracles do happen –  he’s one of them.

Kay Stout, Director

PAAS Vinita

[email protected]

918-256-7227

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A Better Life

posted February 14th, 2017 by
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Supply and Demand

TA Better Lifehe program at NOCC (Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center) is a continuing reminder of a better life through the power of forgiveness that can happen between a person and a homeless dog.   We see it every week when we visit.

Google the following:  Pawsitive Change (a division of www.marleysmutts.org); celldogs.org (the original program started by Sister Pauline Quinn); go to youtube- type in The Dogs of Lexington (submitted by John Otto); and Camerado, I Give You My Hand.  This is a start to a journey that can be life-changing not only for the dogs, but especially for the inmates who train them.

With more than 61,000 inmates in the Oklahoma prison system, we have the second highest incarceration rate in the country; are prisons are at 119%+ capacity; and 77% of Oklahomans personally know someone who has been sent to a correctional facility. 

If you do further research on the internet, you will find countries that have low incarceration rates.  This translates not only into money saved, but the lives of their families.  Data proves 70% of the children who have one or more parent incarcerated will become one of the statistics.

We see the transformation of the inmates as we work with them. They learn compassion, how to give and receive love, confidence in training a high-energy, goofy, scared, big, little, four legged animal.  At the same time, they transform the life of the dog in their care.  Attend a graduation, witness the transformation, learn more about changing the outcome.  Ask anyone who works for PAAS – – we’ll be happy to regale you with true stories.  We believe in second chances.