Friday, July 4, 2008

In love with the Garden State

I just got back from New Jersey yesterday midday. For those that need a recap, I left for Newark on Tuesday at 5:50 with 18 rescued satos (2 of which were our Los Machos satos Annie and Nugget), St. Hubert's-bound. At the airport on Tuesday, both Annie and Nugget were extremely well behaved, simply watching their surroundings cautiously and taking intermittent naps. I was a proud "momma." Upon arrival in New Jersey, Chuck, one of St. Hubert's ACOs, picked me up along with the dogs. I met up with Jackie at St. Hubert's Madison shelter, helped unload dogs, and cruised back to Jackie's for the night. On Wednesday, Jackie and I woke up at our leisure considering we did not go to sleep until 1 am. I woke up to seeing New Jersey in the daylight for the first time. With no concept of what New Jersey had to offer, I was in awe of how gorgeous and green the state is and found myself missing my original stomping ground that Jersey reminded me of, Missouri.

Jackie first brought me to the St. Hubert's in Long Branch. Understated, I was dazzled by the shelter's organization and cleanliness, and especially loved how each animal had luxury items such as a bed with something warm to curl up into. In my past animal shelter experiences, most of the low-kill shelters I visited retained a cold ambiance, but not St. Hubert's. Though I never had a doubt in my mind, my visit to St. Hubert's Long Branch assured me that Amigos de los Animales is partnered with a shelter of integrity and humanity, and I haven't even mentioned the organization's stellar staff yet either. I'll get to that.

After our short visit to the Long Branch shelter, we drove about 25 miles to Madison, New Jersey. The St. Hubert's facility in Madison is located on a beautiful spread of green land and has several buildings used for specific, animal-related purposes. It comes as no surprise, as Jackie explained the shelter's structure, that St. Hubert's has such a incomparable reputation for matching an animal with its human counterpart or counterparts. From the initial vetting and quarantine to the socialization and training of the animals that come through both branches of this shelter, St. Hubert's staff is undoubtedly the best of the best. During the afternoon I spent in Madison, I was bombarded by very-much-so wanted knowledge of animal behavior, shelter operation, adoption protocol, and on and on. As with anything, because St. Hubert's covers all of the if, ands, and buts in terms of precautions for animal care and health, it would prove difficult to question or lack confidence in how they do what they do. In sum, it was a fantastic experience.

Towards the end of my visit to St. Hubert's, a special visitor and his family paid me a visit. Remember "remarkable ears" Rocco??? Well, I swear his ears are more remarkable than ever. It was fantastic to see Rocco and to meet Christine Bengivenga and her gorgeous girls, Jenna, Jillian, and Gina. Man, has he got it made and is obviously smothered with love and care in his forever home. I have to admit to being very touched by their visit and so grateful to be able to see the faces, in vivo, of a family that took a chance on a Los Machos sato. If you don't remember, Christine contacted me after only seeing a picture of Rocco on my blog. She knew this dog needed to be a part of her family and made it happen.

And if I didn't already feel special enough, Jamie Sherr, ADLA's long-time supporter and volunteer, pulled out the red carpet for me Wednesday evening. Jamie arrived at St. Hubert's at around 4:30 with her darling sata, Zooey. Zooey was rescued by ADLA's Nydia awhile back. She was sent to St. Hubert's in North Branch, which is where Jamie met her match. Jamie, Zooey and I went for a walk in a park for about an hour, where once again I was enamored with Jersey's natural beauty. Soon thereafter, we went back to Jamie's to freshen up, drink a Stella (a personal favorite, not to be found in PR), and then headed out to dinner with her lovely comrade Gavin. Dinner was wonderful, compliments of dear Gavin. From there, Jamie poured me into the oh-so-comfy Newark Sheraton, compliments of her Starwood Preferred Guest points. I slept on what would seem like a cloud for approximately 4 hours, waking up for my 6 am flight at 4 am. Still, it was a dreamy 4 hours.

I would like to thank everyone who made my stay in New Jersey unforgettable. Not only were my experiences scattered with sincere hospitality and kindness, but I also left St. Hubert's/New Jersey with a heightened sense of what it means to save animals and how to do so more efficiently and with the best interest of the animals in mind. And, of course, I would like to especially thank Jackie Fahey, director of St. Hubert's, for allowing all of us of ADLA to benefit from her wisdom and her glorious animal welfare centers. Having adopted out nearly a thousand Puerto Rican satos, without St. Hubert's our rescue efforts would obviously by drastically less successful. And, for those of you who are weary of adopting a "shelter animal," I urge you to visit St. Hubert's and its crew, who, simply put, just do it right.

Photos: (1) St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in North Branch
(2) inside hallway to the "Cattery" and "Kennel Area" at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison (3) the outdoor runs,which are connected to indoor kennels, at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison (4) Nugget, in her cozy bed at St. Hubert's (5) the Bengivenga girls and their main squeeze, former Los Machos sato Rocco (6) Annie and Nugget in transit to the St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in North Branch

And the cuteness continues at the Santulli abode...

Oh, and stay tuned because Amigos de los Animales is heading to the Arecibo Municipal Shelter this Sunday with plenty of vaccinations, dewormer, and other goodies. Thank you to those donors (you know who you are) who have helped us raise approximately $2000 for this cause.

Happy 4th!

1 comment:

Betsy O'Neill said...

Welcome home...yep, the east coast isn't so bad. How'd Annie make out? Both her and Nuggett look great. Sounds like you had a great trip and got to see alot.