Monday, June 4, 2012


Do you ever stop and wonder if you’ve made a difference in anyone’s life? Do you reflect on your day when the day is done? I would like to think that what I do or have done in the past has made a positive impact and made someone’s life just a little bit better. Sometimes what we do becomes so routine that we don’t realize the good we are doing.
For some reason, we dwell on the negatives. The mistakes we have made. We may not notice we just smiled at someone when they needed it the most. When we gave that compliment and made the person’s day.
The greatest accomplishments are the ones we do quietly. No one else has to know you did what you did. When you go around boasting and singing your own praises, it diminishes the good.
This world is made up with a lot of little things that make a big impact. We all donate what we can to charities that mean something to us personally. We all have had cancer touch our lives in one way or another, so the American Cancer Society may be near and dear to your heart.
I love to garden. I like to nurture living things and watch them grow. I planted trees in my backyard when my grandchildren were born, and long after I am gone there will be a lasting legacy for them.
Planting just one seed can make a huge difference in our world. I take that same thought into the shelter with me. If I’ve made a difference in just one life of our shelter animals, then that is all I could hope for.
Going into the shelter and feeding and cleaning each morning can become very routine. A lot of days I go about my business and never think about my actions, and at the end of the day I ask myself, “What have I done to make a difference?” Most days I really have to think. Sometimes I think too hard.
A lot of the times we think it must be this huge, monumental accomplishment when in reality the small gestures make the most impact. The extra hugs and cuddles given to the scared new cat that doesn’t understand where it is or why it is there. The dog that just needs a little human contact to let him know it will be OK. These gestures are done without much thought behind them, because they come so naturally that we may not even notice we do them.
I will admit around people I notice my flaws way more than I should. I am very hard on myself when I reflect on my words or actions. Why did I do that? Why did I say that? Over and over. When I am with animals, I don’t feel that way.
Growing up I always had a pet there for me in my time of need. I could say or do anything and it never judged. That is why my charity of choice has always been one with animals. 
Animal Welfare Society is a refuge for these wonderful, caring animals that are waiting for their forever homes and would love to have their own person they could show unconditional love to. If these same animals could think and reflect on their day and wonder if they did any good, they could without any doubt or regrets answer “yes.” All those purrs, rubs, tail wags, barks and nothing beats those big eyes and a tilt of an understanding head to let you know you are loved. They do all of this without thinking or expecting anything in return. Can you say the same?
Together, we can make a difference in the life of a shelter animal.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Welcome Home

Life changes can be very stressful. Anytime we experience anything new or different in our lives, be it good or bad, it can send our anxiety level sky high. The same goes for our four-legged family members. Any change in their daily routine can be challenging, one change being adopting a new pet and bringing it into your home for the first time. Some animals adapt right away, and others may take time, patience, and understanding. Think how you would feel in the same situation. Meeting new people in new places is always stressful.
Slow introductions to new people is always best. Cats especially do best in a “safe room.” Keep your cat in one room designated especially for it for a while. A porch, bedroom or even a bathroom works well. Visit the cat often and spend some play-time with it. When you notice it rolling on the floor and greeting you freely, you can expand its space. Eventually, the open space of your whole house won’t be so overwhelming.
You will also soon know the personality of your new pet, and you should respect that uniqueness. If you have a reserved pet, you would probably do best if you close it off in a quiet room when you have company or any new visitors.
I place my two cats in my bedroom whenever we have a lot of visitors or workmen in my house. My number one fear is someone will leave a door open and they will get outside. My two cats each have different personalities. One is shy when new people are around and the other is super friendly and wants all the attention and follows everyone. He is the one I worry about if I’m not able to keep a close eye on him. He follows workmen and “talks” to them. We say he is the inspector and makes sure they are doing the job properly. He is also the one that has been closed in closets and cabinets. My other cat will always let us know when her brother is locked in somewhere by crying and staring at the door or closet he is in.
If you have a dog, it is best if you remove it when workmen are in your home. I know a lot of service people won’t enter a house with a loose dog inside. It is in their contracts that dogs must be put in an area away from the work space. Yes, we love our dogs, and yes, they are harmless, but not all people are animal lovers. I am sure more than once they have encountered not-so-nice dogs, and that has left an impression.
Of course, size has a lot to do with it also. The larger the dog, the more intimidating. My son has a large French mastiff and put her out on his deck when he was getting a delivery one day. The delivery person took one look at her and said, “That’s the largest pit bull I’ve ever seen.” He was petrified! Little did he know the worst she would have done was slobber all over him.
Moving is also another stress factor. The same suggestions apply as when you bring animals home for the first time. They are creatures of habit, and those everyday routines are security for them. Any disruption of those routines can be very unsettling.
A little patience goes a long way. Your pet is a family member, and just like other members of your family you have to make some concessions. It’s a small price to pay for all the love and loyalty they give us.
When I have moved, I have left my animals in a room at the old house and then brought them over at the last moment to the new house. I tried to have as much as possible put in place and ready for them to investigate. I’ve been lucky, as they have always adjusted quickly. As long as my husband and I are there with them, they seem to be happy anywhere.
Bringing home a new baby is a big stressor. Suddenly the attention that was on them is now on this strange new bundle. Prepare your pet for the new addition by bringing home a blanket of the baby’s from the hospital before the baby comes home and let your pet get used to the scent. Install gates in the baby’s room or designated areas and do not allow your pet in that space. By doing this your new baby is already elevated in the “pack.”
Never leave the new baby alone with your pet. Unintentional accidents can happen. Always remember that they are “animals.” You are in control, and your pet has to know that. You will have a happier and better behaved pet when it knows you are the leader and it doesn’t have the stress of being in charge.
There will always be stress in our lives and unexpected circumstances. That does not mean things have to go awry. There isn’t much that can’t be remedied. If you find yourself in a difficult situation with your pet, give Animal Welfare a call. We are always here to help. Our goal is to keep pets in their homes and out of our shelter. Together we can make a difference.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Has it really been one year already since I started writing this blog? They say that as we age time goes by so much faster. I had no idea it would be going this fast!
My first blog was about AWS’ Valentine Cat Open House, and we just had another one Feb. 12. As always, it was a packed house, with everyone enjoying themselves and, more important, getting our cats adopted into their forever homes. One by one they were getting picked and placed into carriers and going off with our goodbyes and wishes for a wonderful life. It never gets old seeing the smiling faces of the people leaving with their new friends. It is hard to tell who is happier, the people or the cats. I’m guessing it’s a tie.
It is especially important at this time of year to get our resident cats into new homes so we can make room for the upcoming spring season of life and renewal. In shelter talk that means an abundance of new litters that happens each spring. This past year, we had new litters into November.
There is such a simple solution to this major problem. Spay/neuter your pets! We can’t educate the public enough on this subject. For some reason people still don’t spay/neuter, especially their cats. These animals are allowed to roam, and we all know what happens next.
I was recently talking with a relative who has a 14-month old poodle/Havanese mix, and I was upset to hear that the dog still hadn’t been neutered. Of course, my first question was “why not?” The answer was even more shocking. “People are saying he is so cute that we should breed him.” I went off the walls. Our shelter, along with other shelters, is full of cute dogs and cats. Cuteness is never a reason to bring more animals into this world. Come to our shelter and you can find loads of cuteness just waiting for someone to adopt them. One of our board members sells T-shirts with simple lettering NYPD (Neuter Your Pets Damnit). Love it! Whenever I wear my T-shirt, it starts many conversations with strangers.
So what are we to do? How do we get people to truly understand the importance of spaying/neutering their pets? AWS even offers certificates to help with the cost for people who are in need. Still not enough. It may be due to the fact we are a non-destroy shelter and will keep the animals with us if no forever home is found. That only works if we get them in the door. At times we are too full and can’t take anymore in. We hate having to refuse and put them on a waiting list. Sometimes when people want us to take the animal in and we can’t, they get annoyed and start threatening to abandon the animal or have it euthanized. That is never the answer. I am only mentioning this hoping people will have second thoughts on adding more animals to an already over-crowded society and not wanting this to happen to that cute little dog or cat you may be considering breeding.
Our shelter may be a non-destroy shelter, but there are many that aren’t. I always thought they were mostly in the southern states, but I’ve found out we have a lot of shelters here in Connecticut that are so over-populated they must euthanize their residents. Sometimes as soon as a few weeks! My goodness, that doesn’t even give the animal any time at all to have a chance at being adopted.
What can you do to help, you ask? Speak up for the innocent animals that can’t speak for themselves. Tell everyone you know and then some to spay/neuter their pets. Help us with a donation to our trap/neuter/return program. Let us know of any cat colonies around your community and even that single stray cat that hangs around looking for food. Soon that one will be five, and five will be ten…you get the picture.
We can’t let this overshadow our happiness for the wonderful cats that recently got adopted. Sometimes it can be upsetting worrying about the cats we know are out there and wondering how to get them into our shelter.
Trapping isn’t the only issue to consider. Space is the big issue. We are trying to save up funds for an addition to our shelter so we never have to turn an animal in need away. The homeless animal population is growing faster than our bank account. Each new day brings us new adoptions and closer to our goal. 
If you haven’t looked at our Web site recently,, or our Facebook page, please check them out. You will see the cutest dogs, cats, kittens and puppies waiting for their forever homes. Come in for a visit and quite possibly you may find a space in your heart and home for one of our amazing residents. They don’t ask for much, and they give back so much more.
Cuteness fades…euthanasia is forever!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Angels Among Us

Happy New Year! Here’s to an even better 2012.
We have had a remarkable year at AWS. We have seen some of our longtime residents get adopted into their forever homes. Whether we ended the year with a bang or started the new year with joyful hope, anyway you look at it, it is a positive. What never fails to amaze us is when people come in asking to see our longest resident at the shelter. They aren’t looking for perfection (that would be boring), only they have the love and compassion needed to take these animals into their homes and give them the love and security that has been long overdue.
The most recent Christmas miracle was when a lady came in wanting us to show her which cats had been here the longest. We showed her Curtis, Annie, Whisper and Porter. Any one of these would have been a great choice. She chose Whisper. Whisper is an older gal that had been with us way too long. We tried everything to get her adopted. One of our volunteers had a soft spot in her heart for Whisper and would always give her extra love and attention. She had resolved herself to the thought that Whisper might never get adopted and the shelter would be her “home” for the rest of her days.
Whisper spent her time sitting on the window sill looking outside. When I came in one morning and was told Whisper had been adopted, I was floored! I called Marianne right away to give her an early Christmas present with the news of Whisper’s leaving us. She almost couldn’t speak. She was in shock! All her hard work had paid off. It was indeed the best present she could have gotten, and, most important, Whisper found a home for Christmas.
We have already been updated with her progress, and from day one she seemed to ease into family life. Now she has a house to explore and a window sill all to herself to relax on and watch the world go by. Congratulations, Whisper, and may you live a long and happy life in your new home! To Whisper’s new “mommy,” you really are an angel for seeing the good in one of our older, longtime residents.
I recently came upon a quote that, to me, says it all. “Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.” I don’t know when people come to love and respect animals, if it is something we are born with or learn from our environment, but to me it is as natural as breathing and lives deep inside me. My children were all raised with animals, and they have love and compassion for all creatures, big or small. My grandson is being raised in a home with a dog and cat, and he has learned from an early age they are part of the family and have feelings and should be treated that way. Whenever Liam comes to my house, one of the first things he does is go looking for my “kitzies” and my dog “eta” (Pita). Just the sight of them makes his whole face light up with happiness.
That is exactly how I feel whenever I walk into our shelter and am greeted by all our floor cats. I always give all our “boys” and “girls” a big hello and ask how their night was. A lot of them are big talkers, especially when they are hungry, and answer me back. You may be mistaken and think our shelter or any shelter is a sad place, but you couldn’t be more wrong. It is a “jumping” place with loads of activity. How can it not be when you have cats stalking and capturing toy mice and helping with overseeing your chores? Step back into our dog kennels and you get greetings so loud and wags that could knock you over. How could you not smile or respond to that?
The next time you are standing by a stranger or pass someone new in a grocery store, give the person a warm smile. Who knows, it just might be an angel among us.  You know who you are!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Did You Know …?

I know it probably seems like Animal Welfare Society is always begging for donations of some sort every time you turn around. I thought this would be a good time to give you some facts regarding the operating costs of our shelter and the responsibilities of our staff, volunteers and board members along with some helpful facts regarding this holiday season.
With every one or two cats and kittens that get adopted it seems we take in three or four. We feed them twice a day. In the morning, they get canned food with a side of dry. In the late afternoon, they are given a little dry food in their dishes to hold them over until morning. Of course, the kittens have food available at all times. I can easily go through a case of canned food feeding our two cat rooms and our floor cats. That doesn’t include our isolation room or grooming room that houses our overflow. I can’t remember the last time grooming has been empty of cats in cages. This is the reason we are always asking for donations of pet food.  It is very hard to keep up with the demand.
Every day they each get a fresh scoop of litter in their boxes, and in the large pens the litter boxes take five scoops each. We get our litter delivered from Agway by the pallets on a call-in basis. We can’t rely on an automatic refill because each month we use a different quantity depending on the number of cats we take in. We have an overabundance of cats and kittens, which causes us to go through an extremely large amount of litter.
Our dogs are basically the same scenario minus the litter, of course. We have 18 kennels that can house our dogs, and when we have very small dogs, especially in the colder months (if we have the space), we house them in isolation and grooming. We also have a gated area at our front desk where we can keep the smaller dogs.
Some facts from the month of October’s Profit & Loss Statement:
 Total income—which includes, but is not limited to, adoptions, fund-raising, canisters, shelter store, spay/neuter and membership dues—totals $12,797.74.
Total expenses for the month of October—which includes, but is not limited to, medical, insurance, supplies, food, utilities and advertising—totals $33,135.00 (medical alone for October totaled $9,240.42).
We had a net income of (minus) -$20,337.26.  So you can see why we have to ask and ask some more for help.
Our staff members are very dedicated employees. They are not in it for the money. As you can see, we don’t have much money to go around but we do value our employees and are as generous with their pay as possible. Every one of them has the well-being of our animals at heart.  Our staff members work weekends and holidays. Our manager is available 24/7 for emergencies. As we all know from experience, most problems arise “after hours.”
Our shelter is run by a Board of Directors, which consists of our president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, director of public relations/marketing, director of fund-raising, and shelter manager. All positions (except shelter manager) are non-paying positions. We put in countless hours consisting of brain-storming, meetings, public relations, education, animal training, fund-raising and awareness programs—all of which is done after we’ve worked at our day jobs.
I personally have never done anything so rewarding in my life. I cannot explain the satisfaction and happiness we feel when we receive updates on our adoptions and see how well our past shelter animals are doing. Most of our rescued animal’s lives may not have started out very well but from the moment they enter our shelter their story changes. It definitely will be a happily-ever-after story.
With the cold weather and holidays approaching, please be aware of the dangers lurking around for your pets.
Did you know…
·       Many holiday plants can lead to health problems in dogs and cats.  Among the plants to keep out of reach are holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and lilies.
·       Antifreeze is poisonous to pets. Just a small amount can be deadly. Snow globes often contain antifreeze so keep them away from your pets.
·       The extra cords and plugs of holiday lights and other fixtures can look like chew toys to pets. Tape down or cover cords to help avoid shocks, burns or other serious injuries. Unplug lights when you are not home.
·       Pine needles, when ingested, can puncture holes in a pet’s intestine. So keep pet areas clear of pine needles.
·       Pets, particularly cats, can be tempted to eat tinsel, which can block the intestines. Keep other ornaments out of reach of pets.  Ingestion of any ornament, which might look like toys to pets, can result in life-threatening emergencies. Even ornaments made from dried food can lead to ailments. And remember, shards from broken glass ornaments can injure paws, mouths and other parts of the body.
·       Keep candles on high shelves. Use fireplace screens to avoid burns.
·       Do not let pets drink the holiday tree water. Some may contain fertilizers, and stagnant tree water can harbor bacteria. Check labels for tree water preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only those that are non-toxic. Some folks use screens around trees to block access to electrical cords and gifts.
·       Very important: Do not put aspirin in the water (some folks do this thinking it will keep the tree or plant more vigorous). If a pet ingests the aspirin-laced water, his health or even life can be at risk.
·       Avoid toxic decorations. Check all labels for any hidden dangers.  Snow sprays can cause reactions when inhaled, styrofoam poses a choking hazard and water in snow scenes may contain toxic organisms such as Salmonella.
·       Holiday time can be very stressful to your pets. Make sure pets have a safe place to retreat in your house away from noise and guests. Make sure they are wearing current ID in case they escape out a door when guests come and go.
·       Always make time to spend and care for your pets. Do not take a holiday from the responsibility of pet ownership.
·       If your pets are stressed, Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower essence available in most health food stores, is a natural stress reliever that many folks keep on hand at home and in travel kits. It can often help both people and animals recover from injury, fright, illness, travel fatigue, chocolate ingestion and irritation. Put a few drops in the water bowl or a drop on a towel in their crate.
·       Do not let guests feed your pet’s human food. There are many holiday foods, including fatty meats, gravies, poultry skin, bones, chocolate and alcohol, that can cause illnesses from vomiting and diarrhea to highly serious pancreatitis and other toxic reactions.
These are just some of the dangers of the holiday season. Always try and look at a situation from your pet’s point of view. Walk around your home and survey each room. They are like young children always ready to explore the unknown. Just because it looks like a toy doesn’t mean it is! They are counting on you to keep them safe and secure.
Everyone at Animal Welfare Society wants to wish you and yours a very happy and safe holiday season.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shelter Life

The sun is coming up and a new day has arrived.  With each new day comes the hope of another adoption and watching one of our deserving animals go off to their forever home.  In the meantime, we have work to do.

Walking up to the shelter door, we can see the cats sitting on the windowshelves.  When they first see us, they start meowing like crazy. We can’t hear them, but we can see their mouths going a mile a minute. Upon entering our shelter, we are greeted by our floor cats, who let us know it has been a long night and they are very happy to see us. They have made a mess overnight with their mischievous play and always leave us little surprises. They know how much we just love picking up after them.
Next, we have to get right to the feeding of the cats, and the dogs are let outside first so their kennels can be cleaned before their morning breakfast. The cats are fed before cleaning; if not, we would never hear the end of it! As we serve the cats their food we give each of them a special hello and petting. Some may need medicine in their food and some take supplements added in. We know what all their special needs are.
When the cats have all been given their food, I like to check out our isolation room to see if we had any new additions to our shelter family from the day before.  When any new cat or kitten is brought to the shelter it has to be isolated from the rest of our residents until it is seen by our veterinarians and been given its proper inoculations. After that, it is housed in one of our cat rooms to be adopted. Some are lucky and get adopted as soon as they are ready, and some take longer. A lot of times people come in looking for a particular breed, color, size, sex, long hair or short hair, and the like. Just because an animal has been at our shelter for a while is no reflection on that animal. It just means the right new owner has not been in to visit yet. 
After the feeding comes the cleaning. Each cat is let out of its cage while we change the litter box, wipe down the cage and give it a clean bed and fresh water.  A few hugs and kisses and on to the next.
The dog kennels are sprayed with disinfectant and water and then dried. Then the dogs are let back in and get ready to be fed. After feeding, they wait patiently for the dog walkers to come. When they see their first friend come through the door, they all start barking, as if to say, “Take me out first.”  While some are being walked, the others are let out to play in the fenced in yard. We have a child’s plastic pool for the dogs to play in and plenty of water to drink.
Back to the cats. After their cages have all been cleaned, some want to play with other cats, toy mice or balls and some need to be groomed. Others simply want to take a morning nap.
When I tell people I volunteer at an animal shelter, most of the time their first response is “How can you stand seeing the animals in cages? I could never work there—it is too upsetting.” The truth is they are better off at our shelter secure in their cage than out on the streets and wondering where their next meal is coming from. Most settle in very quickly. The only cat I can remember that was truly upset in his cage was a black and white male named Hercules. He would cry and reach out from the cage as soon as he saw any person around. His owners had moved and couldn’t take him with them so they brought him to AWS. We tried to comfort him but he was beside himself. He would work himself into such a state that he could not keep his food down. We sent him for tests, but they found nothing wrong.  It was all stress. When we took him out of his cage to comfort him he would cling to us so tightly. Finally someone came along and saw his potential, adopted him and kept us updated on his progress.  Once he left the shelter and was back with a family, he was a very loving companion to his new clan.
All the animals have their own personalities and little quirks. We have one cat, Mitchell, that steals paper clips and puts them in the dry food bowls that are on the floor. I was wondering why I kept finding the paper clips and the staff told me they had watched him do it. I don’t know why he does this, just that he, along with a lot of others, keeps us amused.
Soon 11 o’clock comes around and we are open for business. We usually have a steady stream of visitors coming throughout the day along with other volunteers that come to walk dogs and socialize and play with the cats. At the present time we have a lot of kittens at our shelter, so it has been a very active place. These kittens don’t want to sleep after breakfast—they want to play. The only switch they have is an ON switch that keeps going and going. When we have so many kittens it seems I get nowhere fast when cleaning.   But I do find myself laughing out loud…a lot!
We are in the process of adding an outside cat room to the shelter. This will be just fantastic for our cats that like the feel of the outside and sunshine. The enclosure will be very secure for them but will give them added space to roam—the next best thing to their own homes with their own sunrooms. 
We are always trying to improve the quality of life and living conditions for our residents at the shelter. This enclosure is being made possible by a grant. We have big dreams of an addition to our shelter that will be used as a training facility and a meet-and-greet area for prospective adopters to have one-on-one time with their families and the animals they are considering adopting.
At the present time our shelter is busting at the seams, and there is no area that can be used for a quiet get together. Donated funds have been put aside for this addition, but there’s not enough to see it come to life. For now we can only dream of the day when the shelter is turned into the facility that serves not only the good of the animals but the good of our community as well.
At the present time, we are in a state of emergency. Every room is filled at our shelter, and we are worried with the cold weather around the corner. We need to have space to be able to bring strays in out of the cold. Our cat rooms are filled to capacity. If you or if you know of anyone who is looking for a cat or kitten, please come in for a visit. I guarantee you will find one that captures your heart. Maybe you or someone you know would be able to foster cats or kittens. This is a wonderful way to get the benefits of an animal companion without the long-term commitment.
When you lay your head down at night, please say a prayer to St. Francis of Assisi to keep our shelter animals safe and help us so that we may one day have the facility that we at AWS have been dreaming about: St. Francis, please keep our shelter animals safe and may they all find their forever homes. May we one day have the facility to train and house them so they are ready and able to be loyal family pets. May there be no more pain and suffering at the hands of unworthy owners and puppy mills. May people finally understand that animals are feeling and loving creatures that feel pain and heartache just as we do. May there be no more “sale for profit.” May they all have the chance to be the loving companions they were meant to be. May we one day walk into our shelter and have nothing to do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


As I am writing this, I am in the Kilimanjaro Airport waiting to fly home after two weeks in Tanzania, Africa. Going on a safari had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.  A lot of times we have high expectations of something and imagine it to be better than it really is. This was not one of them! This has been a trip of a lifetime—a learning experience regarding animal behavior as well as human behavior.  The people of Tanzania are the warmest, friendliest people I have ever met. “Jambo” is Swahili for “hello,” and everyone you pass gives you a loud friendly greeting.
My tour group all came here as strangers, but we are leaving as friends. Our three tour guides are from the Masai tribe and very proud of their heritage. By the end of the trip, while giving hugs all around we had the Masai warriors crying—not a common sight to be seen.
Without going into too much detail, at one point in our game drive we were in the middle of a pride that had just made a kill. Now anyone who knows me won’t believe I was able to watch this, but it was the most amazing scene I’ve ever witnessed and one I will probably never experience again. Nature at its wildest!

The female lions are the ones that do the hunting and bring the kill back to the others in the pride. The male lions eat first.  When they are finished, the next to eat are the females; after that the cubs can eat.  I would think they would feed the young first or at least second, but it’s not so. The reason for this is for the survival of the pride. The females need the food for strength to return to hunt some more. If a lioness were to bring back a small kill, the male lion would be the only one that would get enough to eat from that. We learned a male lion must consume at least 15 pounds of meat a day. The females need to consume 11 pounds daily. So off the females would have to go to hunt some more. 
They are on a constant lookout for food because the prides can consist of quite a few members. The pride we were watching had approximately 12 members—two male lions, two young males that were approximately 2 years old and the lionesses that did all the work.
As I was watching I couldn’t help but compare our house cats to the wild cats, and vice versa. I have a male cat and a female cat. My female sleeps a lot less than my male cat, and she is always wondering and looking around. My male is lazier, and when he wants to know where she is he lets out a loud howl sound—not like a lion’s roar but just as effective … she comes running. The young lions were wrapping their paws around tree trunks stretching and scratching just as our cats do at home and in the shelter on scratching posts and marking their territory. The young are mischievous and playful. Watching them interact with each other was an amazing sight, but everyone knew who the boss was—“Big Daddy”!
We also watched as two jackals were barking at a cheetah that was getting a little too close to their den. They were trying to lure him away from their home that most likely had pups. They were working very hard and appeared a little distressed. Finally the cheetah wondered off.
Probably what was most amazing was the fact that all different species of animals were co-existing very peacefully together. The zebras were grazing with the buffalo, wildebeest, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, impalas and warthogs (my favorite), to name a few. The elephants were fun to watch, especially with their young. The baby elephants were so adorable and very inquisitive. They were very interested in us and would try to get closer than their mothers wanted them to. The moms would hold the babies back with their trunks but the babies would peek out and keep trying to get a closer look. Elephants have the sweetest faces. They always look like they are smiling. 
The lions are the ones that the animals fear the most. The leopards and cheetahs seem to go after the small animals. These hunters only hunt for food because instinctively their main goal is survival of their pride and family. We humans can learn a lot and take lessons from these wild animals.  They do not hunt just for sport; that is a human game. They protect their young and other herd members.
Most of the wildness has been bred out of the domesticated animals we have as pets. So our animal friends rely on us for food, water and survival. In turn, they give us the same dedication we see in the wild in prides and herds. Our pets do not know how to provide the essentials on their own. Yes, we all know most house cats know how to hunt small rodents like mice and birds, but it is mostly instinct and play and they would not fare well if they had to survive in the wild. That is why it is best for our pet cats not to be let outside. There are much larger predators that could be hunting our pets.
As I leave to go back home, I am taking with me a new respect for the wildlife and people of Tanzania. It is truly a unique and beautiful country.
“Hakuna matata”—no worries, as a song from “The Lion King” goes.