Spiritual fun making Kiva Loans

Hi guys!  I have blogged before about various times I’ve made loans on the website kiva.org.  Basically you make a small loan of $25 and people all over the world do the same and then the person who asked for the loan gets it, gets to invest in their small business, then pays it back over time.  You get to see the photo, name, and story of the people asking for loans, and you can search by gender and other factors.  I search for women asking for the loan on their own rather than in a group, and pick people I feel will pay it back, and who seem to have a positive effect on others.  But that’s not all.  There’s an extra idea I have in mind….

I loaned money to Hedaya in Palestine through Kiva.org

I also pick people I’d like to have tea with once or twice, or people with whom I feel I’d like to have a brief conversation.  People I respect and admire and would like to encourage.  I do this because I want to reward positive people, and also I believe that the spirit of those I pick actually know about me and the other lenders on a subconscious level.  I believe that we actually can meet briefly, in our dreams (on the “astral”), with our angels, and actually have tea.  So today I picked Hedaya a Palestinian woman who is 38, married, with two children in school.  She is making improvements to her women’s clothing shop.

Batbold has a wife and 3 kids in Mongolia. His daughter is a university student!

I also picked Batbold who is 53, married with three kids in Mongolia.  Both he and his wife are chefs and he is opening a cafe.  I had a positive sense of him right away, but when I read that his daughter is going to a university that reinforced my sense that he has a good heart.  So here’s to having tea with kind, sincere people, both while awake and in the body, and in our dreams with our angels!

The Juicy Tell-All of Harry Potter the Adoptable Cat – Part 1

adoptable cat Harry Potter
But mom, it wasn’t me!

OK here is the biggest deep dark secret of Harry Potter, our foster cat.  The kind of secret that you would only ever learn from a cat that’s being fostered in someone’s home, with an honest foster mom.  Harry Potter will eat bread, still in the bag, like he’s starving and he hasn’t eaten in years.  Seriously.

He will scarf down big pieces of many slices so that by the time you find him having his pig out binge-fest you need to throw away a few slices.  He’s had a bread binge fest twice in the month or so we’ve had him.  The first time we were so shocked because we’ve never seen a cat do that.  The second time we just forgot to put the bread away, so then we decided to keep the loaf we’re using in a tupperware and that’s been a good solution.

So there you go.  Now you know the worst.  Stay tuned for more juicy tell all about this amazing, loving, mellow, get-along cat who needs to find his forever home.  Oh and here’s Harry Potter’s writeup and video on petfinder.com.

People finding their lost pets & shelter stories

beagle/basset wearing ID
Our son Odie sporting his ID tag

A few years back I used to volunteer at Animal Care and Control in Chicago, on Western Ave near 27th St.  I was there for around three years and for much of the time I was doing paperwork.  Why travel across town every week to do paper work at an animal shelter?  Well it turns out that nearly every one who volunteers at an animal shelter wants to be hands-on with the animals, so no one wants to help with the paperwork.  It is critical work and when I was there it could wait a week before someone got to it.  The paperwork was at the front desk, trying to locate the owners of stray cats and dogs that had come in with ID tags or microchips.  It’s very detail oriented work, and more often than not you cannot locate the owner, which is another reason it wasn’t an appealing job to most.  For example do you know how many stray dogs come in to the shelter wearing personal ID tags showing numbers that are no longer in service?  It is so common.  Do you know how many people microchip their pet but then do not keep the microchip company current with up to date contact info?  That said there are some reuniting stories I will never forget.

Once I was calling the owner’s phone number on record for a microchip, saying the general statement about where I was calling from, we have your dog, ya-da ya-da ya-da.  The guy I called thought it was some kind of joke, or a scam.  I assured him that it was not, and that I had lots of people to call and would not be making up stories.  He finally believed me and told me that his family had lost this dog over a year ago, and had never ever given up hope.  He said they had made a little shrine to their dog on their fireplace mantle and had been praying every single day for their pet’s return.

The shelter only has set hours that you can come in to claim your pet so I was gone when they came in and got back their dog, but I can imagine the reunion.  I’ve seen enough of them.  Generally they walk down the rows of cages, and once their pet sees them he goes absolutely crazy with happiness.

cat wearing ID tag
YoYo doesn't mind his collar as long as it's a little loose

Tomorrow Lorenzo is bringing our dog Odie to our vet for a check up, a routine test, and vaccinations.  Then I will submit his rabies vaccination info to the city for a new city dog tag.  I cannot put enough ID on Odie, after all I have witnessed working for Animal Care and Control.  His microchip company is Home Again, and they have our current and accurate contact info which I have confirmed.  He has a collar w/personal ID tag with our current phone numbers always on his neck unless he’s in bed with us at night.  We walk him on a harness so as not to stress his collar so it will always remain strong and carry his ID.  He is never in the yard without us being there too.  Our four cats are indoors only and all have AVID microchips and AVID has our current contact info.  The cats that will tolerate it wear collars with ID tags too.

So if you want to read more reunion stories you can check out the Home Again website.  I just realized today that they keep record of a lot of the stories, and I love reading those. http://foundpets.homeagain.com/

Cat #1 becomes Smokey, our new cat “son”

Smokey catching up on his sleep

This is an update to our Humane Cat Trapping Project.  Yesterday we brought our trapped cat “Cat #1” to the Tree House spay/neuter clinic.  We had arranged for them to keep him overnight after the surgery, and we picked him up this afternoon.  The best news is that he tested negative for both FIV and FeLV, two cat viruses.  They said overall he seems healthy, and is between 1-2 years old.  He is 10 lbs.  For now, Lorenzo has named him Smokey.

We brought him home and he went from the trap to a big dog cage we have that will be his home for at least the next week.  We have to make sure he does not have intestinal parasites before he is allowed to be out loose in the house.  He hisses less and less now.  Our other cats come by to see him and there is a little hissing our growling on one side or the other, but nothing major.  We have a huge litter box in his cage and he used it almost immediately, which is great.  The first time I opened his cage to scoop litter he gently tried to get out and meowed twice.  That’s the first time we’ve heard him meow.  I didn’t let him get out, but I did pet him for a few moments which he allowed, twice on the head, twice on the neck, once on the cheek.  That was the first time I pet him, so that’s exciting too.  We’re keeping him.  This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!  🙂

Got him! We just trapped “Cat #1″

outdoor cat in humane trap
Cat #1 trapped and in our home!

This is also known as Humane Cat Trapping Project Day #8, and our third blog post on this project so far.  Our clinic appointment is tomorrow bright and early so thank goodness we really did trap Cat #1 tonight!!!!  We trapped him about an hour ago.  He is not a very big guy, and all black with a tiny tuft of white fur at his neck.  I brought his trap into my home office, my floor protected with a large tray and newsprint in the tray.  I used a “trap comb” to partition his trap safely and give him more tuna and water on one end, and a clean towel on the other end, while preventing his escape.  He can’t eat any tuna after midnight in preparation for his neuter surgery, but I’m sure he has already finished it.  He has hissed a few times but other than that does not seem to need to hide from us.  We took the sheet off of one end of the trap and he did not wriggle back under cover.

Tomorrow I will bring him, still in his trap, to the Tree House clinic and we will learn much more about him.  We really don’t even know for sure his gender, but we’ll know all sorts of things by this time tomorrow!  Stay tuned…..

Humane Cat Trapping Project – Intro & Day 3 Report

baited cat trap for trap rehearsal feeding
Tempting trail of tuna for humanely trapping a cat!

This is a photo of the trap we are using in our humane cat trapping project.  We have the trap on loan from Tree House Humane Society.  Lorenzo and I have been contemplating adding a fourth cat to our animal family for a while now.  Recently we have decided to trap our next pet cat, since there are plenty of abandoned cats roaming around our neighborhood, though some people may not realize it.  I find trapping cats really fun and exciting.  You never know which cat you will get, since in most cases there are many roaming around you haven’t seen.  You have to plan and prepare, all things which I love.  It’s a combination of a good deed and a fun adventure.  I personally trapped our pet cats Zen and Bambi back in late 2006.  There’s more info on those trappings on my site www.MyFeralKitten.com

This photo shows the basics about how we bait our trap, shown with no sheet for illustration purposes.  Right now we are in the “trap rehearsal” phase, where our trap is rigged to stay open no matter what using several zip ties.  It’s a tuna buffet essentially that we bait every evening with fresh smelly canned tuna, packed in oil.  Once we are ready for the real trapping night, we will remove the zip ties so that the cat will get safely trapped when he steps on the “put paws here” part, labeled in the photo.  The first night the tuna remained undisturbed.  For night two, last night, I got rid of the old tuna and replaced with new tuna.  Success!!!  By 12:30am just after midnight I noticed that all the tuna had been eaten.  I can check the trap right from our apartment window with a flashlight, the height of convenience!

We will continue to bait the trap every evening, to train our mystery meat eater (hopefully a cat) to return each night.  I have a call into Tree House Humane Society’s spay/neuter clinic to make a spay/neuter appointment.  We are hoping for an appointment for next Wed 11/9/11 but we’ll see.  We will be trapping our cat the night before the spay/neuter appointment, and will bring him/her to the clinic in the morning still in the trap.  Stay tuned to our blog posts for the next week or two.  I will be updating our readers as things develop!!!  If you want lots more detailed info on trapping, socializing feral kittens, etc. you can check www.MyFeralKitten.com which is very complete, and as I said details some trapping I did in 2006 and 2007.

I Made My 17th Kiva.org Donation- for Free!

photo of Kiva loan recipient in Mexico
I just helped to fund Felipe's loan so he can buy clothing to sell

I have blogged here before about my microlending through the website kiva.org.  For other posts on this topic check the right hand side under Categories: Giving.  Giving with the Kiva site is really neat, probably the most rewarding philanthropy work I’ve done so far.  You make a loan of $25 at a time to one person, and other donors around the world also pick whose loan they want to fund.  Usually I try to pick people that I feel are very positive and whose positivity benefits those around them.  I’m an energy reader, and with their name, photo, and description given by Kiva.org that’s way more than enough for me to get a sense of the person.  I think that’s enough for anyone to get a sense of the loan recipient!  For this last loan I made, I searched for people whose business involved clothing sales, and as I was looking through the photos, it struck me that Felipe in Mexico really needs this loan.  He’s not my usual pick beaming with positivity, but I get the feeling he really needs a break.  His other income source is farm work, and he has a wife and son he supports.  Here’s the page with information about Felipe and his loan.  Since these are loans, the people do repay them.  I made this loan a few weeks ago.  If you follow the link you will see that as of the date of this blog post not only have other lenders jumped on board so that his loan was fully funded, but he has already paid back 23% so far.  As they repay the loans I get the money back into my kiva account so I can loan it out again.  My loan to Felipe including the few dollar donation to kiva operating costs was all covered by balance I had already in my kiva account.

With Felipe and other loan recipients paying back into my account, I already have almost the entire amount I need back to make another loan!  Stay tuned to see who I’ll pick next!  🙂

Donating Unwanted Clothing

logo for Brown Elephant resale shops
Howard Brown gives medical care & counseling to gay/lesbian people in need

Recently I donated two big bags of clothing.  I think it’s really positive to donate clothing you no longer need, rather than throwing it away as garbage which benefits no one and uses up landfill space.  Others  can really still wear the good clothes we no longer fit or want to wear.  If any readers don’t have transportation but want to donate clothes, try to get a friend to give you a ride and you can both donate clothes, furniture, and other household items.  You could also google “chicago clothing donation pick up” and check out the well known charities that will pick up your clothing for you by appointment.

This time I used a metal clothing donation box.  The clothing donation box I ended up using is just about a two minute drive from our house.  I had the clothing in the trunk of my car, and I saw it on my way home from some errands, so it literally took two minutes of my time to park and put the bags into the donation bin.  Instant good karma!  I have been doing some reading on the internet about the donation bins, and they say that you should be careful as to which donation bin you use because some organizations give more to the poor than others.  Soooo, I guess it could have been better karma if I had done a little homework on the internet first.  It sounds like it’s safest to deal directly with a reputable organization like Brown Elephant, Amvets, or even Salvation Army if you don’t mind their more conservative perspective.  I think next time I will drop off the clothing at one of the two Brown Elephant resale shops like I usually do.  Either way, I think any form of donation is better karma than throwing it away and having it take up landfill space.  If you have any clothing donation tips, experiences, or comments, please comment here.

Phil & Magoo – Two Shih-Tzus That Need Help

poster to help find lost dog Phil the shih-tzu in Chicago
There's a $2,000 reward for Phil's safe return

Phil is now a very famous Shih-Tzu, and hopefully his fame will bring him back home safe very soon.  He was lost Thursday 6/23/11, and it is thought that he was stolen after just a minute or so loose on the street just north of the Diversey/Elston/Western intersection in Chicago.  He is a 3 yr old rescue dog with tan, brown, and black coloring.  His devoted parents, KJ and Deb, are conducting the most impressive lost dog search for him that I have ever seen.  There is a Facebook group page they encourage you to join, called “Find Phillip,” (that’s Phillip w/2 L’s) and you can be a part of the search effort, and/or join in the prayer effort for his safe return.  There is a black and white and also a color version of his poster you can print and post.  It is a poster format that was recommended to them by a private investigator very experienced in lost dog cases.  Also they are accepting fax numbers of anywhere you think might want a poster faxed to them.  If you have information please email FindChicagoPhil@gmail.com

shih-tzu found in Chicago, 20 lbs male unneutered
20 lb unneutered male shih-tzu found. Do you know who lost him? Can you help?

Just two days ago someone brought a stray shih-tzu to KJ and Deb, thinking perhaps that it was their lost dog Phil.  It was not, and now they have temporarily named him Magoo and are fostering him.  They need help finding his original owners.  He is about 20 lbs and full of love and spunk, and still adjusting to this new situation.  He loves adults, and is dominant in a humping way with their boxer, though that may be resolved or alleviated when he gets fixed.  They may not have checked for a microchip yet on him, since no doubt they are spending every spare moment searching for their own baby.  They have a diaper on him now as he tries to mark in the house.  They do have three other dogs at home so perhaps Magoo is used to being the only king in the castle!  Plus perhaps once he’s neutered….  They are guessing he’s four but do not know, and observe that his teeth are very clean and that he lacks basic leash skills.  He needs someone to train him, and no doubt his healthy appetite can be used for positive reinforcement training.  Crossroads Shih-Tzu Rescue will be vetting, fostering, and adopting him out, once his stray period is over next week.  If you are interested in helping Magoo in any way, please contact the rescue.  With the right environment and training, Magoo could make someone very happy.

So please consider sharing this blog post to help spread the word about both shih-tzu’s.  Phil needs to be found and returned to his loving home, and “Magoo” (his new name) needs his original owner located, or a new foster home and/or owner needs to contact the rescue that will help him.

The Global Activism Radio Series & its free upcoming Expo

Global activism - you can make a difference
Expand your world, help others, & have fun

Have you ever heard Jerome McDonnell’s Worldview program on Chicago Public Radio? Currently it is every weekday at noon CST but if you are reading this months later you can see when Worldview comes on by checking the Chicago Public Radio schedule.   The biggest reason I love Chicago Public Radio is that every Thursday of the Worldview show is called the Global Activism Series.  Each show of the Global Activism series features one really amazing person or group that has done something to help make a difference in a developing country.  There are always simple ways you can help if you want to be a part of this group’s work.  Sometimes it’s people from the US who have founded a unique global charity such as Share Your Soles or Working Bikes, or sometimes it is a person from a developing country who is doing something amazing to help their country and is fundraising to continue their work.  Catch up on old shows you missed here http://www.wbez.org/globalactivism.

Each year there is a Global Activism Expo.  This year’s expo is coming soon, and will be this Saturday April 30th from noon to 6pm.  Read all about the upcoming Global Activism Expo 2011 here. It is free and will be held at the UIC Forum, just west of downtown.  It’s a fun way for kids and adults to get involved and learn so much more about great groups making a difference globally.  You could bring a used bike you want to donate to Working Bikes, bring items for and help put together toiletry kits that will be delivered to Japan, or speak to many other fascinating people who make a difference around the globe.  Thousands will attend.  Surely it will be a really diverse and engaging environment, with food and music too.  I went to one years ago they held in Edgewater and definitely enjoyed myself.  If you go definitely let me know how it was for you.