Caring for Pets Who Care for Us


submitted by Tomaca

My dogs, my cats, my turtles are my babies.  They are loved and they are treasured.  And – spoiled.  I can’t forget – very spoiled.  But, how else would you treat someone who loves you unconditionally no matter what?  You could come home in the most foul mood; you could be hurt and in tears, but who is there always ready to just give you love?  They are.


There’s a joke about a guy locking his wife and his dog in the garage for several hours and coming back, opening the door and the only one who is really happy to see him is his dog.  It’s funny, but, yes, it’s true, very true.


And, animals don’t hold grudges.  Whatever is gone is gone.  I won’t say that they forget, but when you make a mistake, they forgive you and move quickly back into the “love you” mode.

We hope that if you decide to get a pet, you will get one from a shelter.  A lot (not all) of these blessed creatures have been abused, were homeless, were hungry and scared.  Yes, even big, seemingly-scary dogs can be scared.  I remember my dad went to the pound and got two dogs.  One was a beautiful German shepherd and the other was a little “barky” mutt (my mom picked the little one).  They were wonderful animals.  Our German shepherd was named “Sarge.”  The day he came home, he urinated on the floor.  My dad went and got the mop, came back and was getting ready to mop of the mess and poor Sarge saw the mop and cringed and cried and peed some more.  It took work to get him to understand that he was safe and that no one was going to beat him anymore.  I was a little girl and seeing that just broke my heart.  To think that someone would beat and hit this wonderful dog was not understandable to me.  Sarge soon turned around and became the confident, relaxed and protective being that he was created to be.  He was also one of my best friends when I was a little girl.  He developed the most amazing calm and confidence.  We put up a big “beware of dog” sign even though Sarge was very friendly.  If he was put in a situation where he had to protect anyone in the family, I have no doubt that he would do so without hesitation.  Thankfully, none of those situations ever occurred.  So he got to relax and enjoy his life as a big, happy, lovable dog.


I’ve always been an advocate for adopting pets from shelters.  Once you do that, often you will find that animal was there waiting specifically for you!  They bond with you so quickly and will do anything – even give their lives to protect you and they love you unconditionally.

Women become their “people moms.”  They see us as one of the pack leaders and because it’s usually mom who takes care of the pets in terms of the feeding and brushing, they see us as the food givers too.

Our pets deserve the best. You want to make sure they are comfortable, they have plenty of food, water and why not take it step further and get them their very own pet bed.  If you do, they just might stay off of yours!  Not necessarily though, because there’s nothing like sleeping with a member of the pack!

We have had up to four dogs at a time.  At bedtime everyone would pile into my son’s bed.  He had to find a way to lay in the midst of the pile.  It was quite funny when you’d peak into his room and five heads would all lift up and look at you.

The cats were quite different.  They were both rescues too.  They saw the dogs as being beneath them.  The younger dogs would always want to play, but the cats would have nothing to do with it.  They’d hiss and scratch and eventually the dogs learned to leave them alone.  The cats were there first so they felt completely entitled to rule everything. The dogs would get out of their way.  The cats ( my boys) also had their own unique beds and the dogs were not allowed to get on them.  We never had to intervene, the boys handled their own business of clearing defining their territory.  The dogs came to understand very quickly where they should not tread or lay their heads.

There’s a whole dynamic when you have pets in your home.  I am so very grateful to have grown up with cats, dogs, rabbits, ducks, birds, hamsters and a host of siblings.  At this point in my life I would love to expand and have horses, chickens, cows and goats.   When my parents grew up, their parents raised their own livestock.  My mom’s stories still filter through my mind.  However, because I am a vegetarian, I would not use the animals for food.  I appreciate how animals have enhanced my life and broadened my vision and understanding of life and the psychology of how we all interact (yes, I’ve learned a lot from animals).   So moms, ladies, dads, get a shelter pet.  You might be thinking that you are saving their life, but in truth, they are saving yours.


Gizmo, the Wonder “Doglet” & His Mom

We’re talking to JenniferAdams,who is Gizmo’s handler, but we like to think of her as his “People Mom.”  We asked her to tell us the story about Gizmo the Wonder Doglet, the tiny little dog with a huge, healing heart.  She walks us through their journey together.



gizpspWhere did Gizmo come from? How did the two of you meet?

After my 19 year old therapy dog dachshund (Mr. Moxie) passed away, I searched several shelters to adopt another dog to follow in his footsteps. However, I was repeatedly turned away for various reasons such as not having a fenced yard, etc. Meanwhile, I was researching small breeds that make good therapy dogs, and Gizmo’s breed kept popping up. I had never heard of his breed before. Then a short time later I was in a doctor’s office, and the classifieds were open to the pet section on the table next to me. I saw a picture of an adorable little black and white puppy and took a closer look. It was the breed that I kept coming across in my research, of all things! So I called the number, did more research and discovered this was a reputable breeder, and picked him up the next day. As soon as I saw him, I said, “There’s my dog!” The rest is history.

Did you have an interest in providing therapy to people through an animal previously, or was this an idea that occurred because of your new acquaintance with Gizmo?

gizcitationBefore Gizmo I had a miniature dachshund named Mr. Moxie, who went to schools with me all over the country. The difference Mr. Moxie made in so many young lives is remarkable. Kids who never wrote before suddenly started writing letters, and even books, about Moxie. Owies were healed, tears were dried, anger dissipated and love prevailed, all because of him. Before he passed away at the ripe old age of 19, I promised him I would find another canine angel to continue his legacy.

What about him led you to believe that he should be a therapy dog and how did you and he get started?

I think the deciding moment came when we were walking in the woods one day. Gizzy was less than a year old. There was a teenage boy sitting off the trail a ways, leaning against a tree by himself. Gizmo confidently walked gizctcatover to him and sat at his side until the boy started petting him. Then Gizzy climbed on his lap. I called Gizmo back, but he simply would not budge. So I stayed in the area to keep an eye on him as I continued walking my other dog, Cooper. That’s when we met a woman on the trail. She identified herself as the boy’s mother and explained to us that the boy had just lost his father, and was inconsolable. It was clear that Gizmo knew just how to console him. Since then, Gizmo has shown his gift for sensing emotional need and seeking people out who need him. It’s really quite stunning to watch him sometimes!

How does he help people in his therapy work? What does he do for them?

Gizmo, like all therapy dogs, has a soothing effect on those around him. People seem to be drawn to his friendly, nonjudgmental, loving nature. He has been shown to lower blood pressure while turning frowns upside down! Many times he has motivated residents in a senior living environment to eat, get out of bed, converse, and laugh. He has motivated school-aged children to read, write, and commit random acts of kindness. He is an outlet for many of them to vent when they’re angry or cry to when they’re sad. I will never forget the day a sulking boy stomped into my office and exclaimed, “I have GOT to get this off my mind! Can I PLEASE speak with Gizmo in private?” I stepped right outside the door and watched him as he held Gizmo close and whispered into his ear for several minutes. Then he gently placed Gizzy back onto his blanket, stepped out the door, smiled at me, turned and said, “Thanks, Giz. I’m going to have a good day now, I hope you have a good day too!” and went on his merry way to class.gizallstars

Gizmo’s Frens page on facebook has over 11,000 people, which is remarkable. How long have the two been doing this work?

Our page, Gizmo’s Frens, has been active since December, 2012. Our nonprofit, Gizmo’s Frens, Inc., has been in existence since August, 2012. Through this, we raise awareness of charitable causes and great things happening in our community. Gizmo’s FB page is a great catalyst for this. Some people refer to Gizmo’s Frens FB page as “a channel for positive news” and a colleague stated, “Gizmo is like a lens – through him we see good in the world.” If it were just me out there saying, “Hey look at this wonderful group helping their neighbors!” people would probably be all, “Oh ok that’s nice.” But when Gizmo gets on with a picture of himself and a group of people helping their neighbors and says, “Look! These people are helping their excellent neighbors today!” the response seems much greater! J

What kind of places do the two of you go to and what do you do there?

That’s a loaded question! We go to all kinds of places, for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we go to places where Gizmo is needed as a therapy dog, like The Village at Buckland Court assisted living community in South Windsor, where he has been visiting on a regular basis since he was a puppy. Sometimes we are at Gizmo’s “excellent high school”, where he works as a therapy dog and is a mascot for their website. Sometimes we just go out and attend events in the community to draw people to the event and to support great causes and other peoples’ efforts to make the world a better place. Sometimes we just show up where we catch people being kind…like an Eagle Scout candidate working on his project or a group of kids helping an elderly woman by cleaning up her yard. And sometimes we are fundraising for our nonprofit, through which we assist many other charities by donating 100% of our proceeds to others. Wherever we go, it always seems we are somehow just where we are meant to be.gizwcgcl

Talk about his nonprofit situation. When did that come about and what is the purpose of it?

The mission of Gizmo’s Frens, Inc. is to raise awareness and funds for charities. Gizmo has always attracted a lot of attention. I wanted to do something good with his rising popularity, to paw it forward for all those angels who spend their lives helping so many. I approached some pet store managers and asked if we could fundraise for rescues. I was told over and over that in order to fundraise, we needed to be a nonprofit. So I finally decided if we need to be a nonprofit in order to make a difference in this capacity, then a nonprofit we shall be! Today we are blessed to be able to raise awareness and funds on a regular basis for a number of charitable causes at Pet Supplies Plus and Wicked Chic, both in Manchester. We are at Wicked Chic, located at 687 Main Street, every Thursday from 6 to 8. Visitors are welcome to come out and meet Gizmo and browse the beautiful, unique items available inside the store. We are still in the process of having 501(c)3 status, so we are well on our way to being able to affect change for many, many more pet rescues and other charitable organizations such as food pantries and organizations that help at risk youth.

What are Gizmo’s future plans? What’s up and coming?gizgratitudejarcloseface

Gizmo has always just gone where the road leads him. We have no specific plans at this time, other than to trust that the people who cross our paths are there for a reason, and we will be just where we are meant to be. A production company (Hudson Street Productions) has been filming at some of his events, and a made for public television documentary (with plans for a future series) is being created as we speak. They plan on filming over the course of a whole year, so look for the release in the next year or 2!

Geri Jones wrote a poem about Gizmo and included it in her new book. How did she and Gizmo meet?

Geri Jones is a perfect example of how people come into our lives when and where they are meant to. We both drive MINI Coopers, and as such, we are on some MINI forums. While we never knew each other on the forums, some other people (from all over the country) mentioned to both of us that we should meet. Then I found out she lives within driving distance, so on July 4 of I don’t remember the year, we met Geri, to help her celebrate her first 4th of July as a US citizen. I knew right away what a super special soul she is because Gizmo was unusually enthusiastic about her presence! To this day, he still dances and marfs whenever she visits.

Where can we buy Gizmo Frens t-shirts?gizdrcbunnyears

Gizmo shirts are not for sale. Rather, they are given in exchange for a donation to Gizmo’s Frens, Inc. 100% of the donation is in turn donated to other charities. We have even given shirts to people who have donated directly to their favorite charities! For us, it’s not about the money. It’s about assisting those who assist others. For more information, contact us on Gizmo’s FB page at

He’s such an adorable little “doglet.” Will people be able to buy stuffed toy Gizmos for themselves at some point?

Yes. We are currently looking into a prototype that, when squeezed, says, “Cuz we’re frens!”, which is Gizmo’s motto, and the reason why he does everything he does. If anyone reading this would be interested in helping to create a prototype, please contact

Is there anything else that Gizmo would like to say to our readers?


Gizmo has 4 toy-sized “frens” (Nina, Lacey, Lilly and Cooper) who visit the assisted living community and make community appearance with him as needed. If anyone would like a visit from Gizmo or his PFF frens, they are welcome to contact us on our FB page ( or email We are willing to provide animal assisted therapy, or we can come out to an event to support a charitable cause, which we will promote on Gizmo’s Facebook page. All of our visits/appearances are free of charge. Cuz we’re frens!

Visit  Gizmo’s FaceBook Fan Page


Ginger – Saving Cloud and His Herd

Did you know there are wild horses in America? There are, but the government in the form of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is rounding them up and destroying them. Ginger Kathrens, among others, saw this happening and made efforts to stop it.

Ginger Kathrens

GINGER KATHRENS is an Emmy Award-winning producer, cinematographer, writer and editor as well as an award-winning author. Her documentary filmmaking trips have taken her to Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and South America and all over the U.S. She filmed and produced the acclaimed Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies and Cloud’s Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns for WNET’s Nature series on PBS. Cloud will return to PBS in November with Cloud: Challenge of The Stallions. Five years in the making, it is Kathrens’ next chapter in the life of the charismatic wild stallion she has documented since his birth in May of 1995. Ginger’s revealing journey with wild horses has been compared to Jane Goodall’s experiences with Chimpanzees. Her documentation of Cloud represents the only continuing chronicle of a wild animal from birth in our hemisphere.

Kathrens was the co-producer and cinematographer of the two-hour Discovery Channel special, Spirits of the Rainforest, which won two Emmy Awards including one for Best Documentary. Additional projects for Discovery included The Ultimate Guide: Horses and The Ultimate Guide: Dogs. Kathrens also wrote, edited, and produced over two dozen segments of the Wild America series for PBS, and has filmed for National Geographic, Animal Planet and the BBC.

In 2008, Kathrens completed the cinema verité one-hour program, They Crossed the Mountains, The History of the Western States Trail for the Western States Trail Foundation in Auburn, California. For twenty years, she was a political media consultant and producer, working with Presidents Reagan, Ford, and George H. Walker Bush. Her highly regarded political productions include the award-winning short subject, Steady Under Fire, the story of former Colorado U.S. Senator Hank Brown.

Ginger is the founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to the preservation of wild horses on our public lands with special attention on isolated, historically significant and genetically unique herds like Cloud’s. She is an informed, impassioned and entertaining speaker on behalf of wild horses from coast to coast. She is an expert on Spanish wild horses and has served as a consultant for the television documentary, Horses of the Conquistadors.




The Cloud Foundation, is a Colorado 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, that grew out of Ginger Kathrens’ knowledge and fear for not only Cloud’s herd but other wild horses in the West. “I began to realize that we were losing America’s wild horses,” Ginger says. “They are rounded up by the thousand, losing in an instant what they value most–freedom and family. I realized that even Cloud and his family were in danger.”

“In Cloud’s remote mountain wilderness we have a perfect opportunity to step back and watch nature call the shots. Predators and daunting weather are limiting the herd size—naturally,” she states. “Yet, human over management is jeopardizing their future survival. We could lose Cloud and his herd forever, unless we’re willing to stand up for them now.”

The non- profit Cloud Foundation is dedicated to preventing the extinction of Cloud’s herd through education, media events and programming, and public involvement. The Foundation is also determined to protect other wild horse herds on public lands, especially isolated herds with unique characteristics and historical significance.

Cloud was rounded up for the third time in September of 2009 despite a huge public effort to try and stop this unnecessary roundup. Cloud and his band were released two days after they were captured but Cloud’s grandchildren and his daughter were removed along with more than 50 others, leaving the Pryors herd at only 125 horses. Cloud is now back in the wild & we continue our work to preserve what wild horses value most- their freedom and their families.


How can you help? Visit  Write letters, make phone calls, give a donation, support existing petitions and start new ones.  It is up to US.  Let’s stop this.


Deidre – Finding Her Own Soul By Saving Animals


Deidre riding her horse

There are many people in the world who dedicate themselves to a cause, to something tangible and real.  They’ll never be rich or famous – and don’t look for those things in life.  They seek instead to serve and to make a difference in the quality of life for the rest of us.  They work quietly and diligently behind the scenes in the work of saving souls – saving the lives of animals.  They rescue, care for, train, foster and find forever homes for these wonderful beings who have been entrusted into mankind’s care.  There’s an old saying about man rescuing animals but in reality, the animals are rescuing us.  I personally have seven rescues in my own home – 4 dogs, 2 cats and a turtle.  These are my babies and I could not imagine my life without them.  I humbly bow and thank people like Deidre for the endless work that they do so that the rest of us can benefit.   – Tomaca



” I have been in the world of rescue for about three years now and I have found my soul while doing it.”  – Deidre

I was born saving animals, I swear it’s a gene. Growing up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, animals in need constantly found me as if they knew my weakness for them. From a snake freezing on my pond, to a baby goat saved from a slaughter farm that I bottle fed on my couch, to a squirrel who fell out of his nest and hopped around the beams of my house like it was his tree, my earliest memories are filled with stories of rescuing animals who lost their way.


Sherry DeGenova – A Kind and Gentle Hand

Sherry DeGenova, ACO



What kind of education or training is required to be an animal control officer?

It all depends on the town and state. Most require some type of animal related experience. I’ve been in the animal field since I was 14 years old. So I have just celebrated 30 years in the field of animals. I personally have worked in vet hospitals, pet stores, boarding facilities and animal shelters. I landed my first animal control officer job in Stamford, CT which required just animal experience in general and when I got my job in Hartford, they required at least 6 months in the animal control field.


Why did you decide to do this kind of work?

I feel I was born with the desire to work with animals. I cant ever remember wanting to do anything else. I was drawn to help animals. It has always been my passion. I remember finding my first cat when I was around 7 years old living under my back porch and convinced my parents to let me keep her. I had her until she passed of old age at the age of 17.

During my time of growing up, I had found my share of lost pets and rescued my share of injured wildlife. I remember my first wildlife rescue like it was yesterday. It was a black crow that I found with a broken wing at the end of my street. I called local vets for help and built a cage in my backyard and wrapped the wing so it could heal for a couple weeks. I would feed him and eventually took off his bandage. He couldn’t fly at first but everyday I would let him out of the cage and toss him slightly in the air.  Each day he got stronger.  One day I tossed him up and off he went. For as long as I could remember, “Blacky” came back and sat on our backyard fence and would crow. I’d come out and he would take bread from my hand.  One day, he just moved on.  I think that was the one moment in my life that I knew this was my calling. I went to college briefly to be a vet tech but realized that’s not where I belonged. I wanted to rescue them. It’s where I felt I could make a difference. From there I started to climb my ladder to where I am today.


Sherry playing with her dogs

Are people often surprised to see a woman doing this kind of work?

People are not surprised to see women as ACOs (Animal Control Officers). There are a lot of women who do this job just as there are many men. I think it comes down to what kind of person you are and what kind of compassion you have for animals. (I also have to say there are men and women who are in this field that shouldn’t be.)


The economy has been very rough for a lot of people these last few years. What differences do you see on the streets as you do your work?

Since I work in an inner city its always been a difficult scene on the streets. I deal with a lot of different ethnic backgrounds and people have different ideas on how an animal should be kept and treated.  Not just in Hartford but in many other cities, people don’t have a problem just leaving their animals behind when they move or tossing them on the streets when they don’t want them anymore. I think the biggest problem I see more now is people who truly want to keep their pets but struggle to feed them properly. It’s either the family eats or the pet. The pet gets what is left over. People are forced to chose their families over their pets. With seeing that being a bigger issue, I started a food drive for the residents in my city. I get donations of food and when people need a little help, they reach out to me and I help them by providing proper food, treats and toys for the dogs. I also collect collars and leashes and hand them out as well. I see so many people walking down the streets with their dogs on everything from shoe strings to extension cords.

I always have something in my van to help someone. People appreciate it and they realize that “animal control officers” are not the mean animal killing people that they think we are.

I next biggest issue is providing basic medical care for the animals. I try to direct people to low cost facilities and hand out applications to get free medical vouchers.


In the 70’s Dobermans were considered to be really bad, evil dogs. They received a lot of negative press in the media. Today, it’s pit bulls who are lambasted everywhere. What has been your experience with the pit bulls that you find out on the street?

Sadly this is an over-bred breed and a very misunderstood breed. A lot of the wrong people have

Sherry's kids

this breed of dog and use it for all the wrong reasons. I spend a lot of time just trying to educate people about the breed and I spend a lot more time trying to protect the breed and enforcing laws that help to protect them.

There are no “bad dogs” just “bad owners” and it’s the dog that usually pays the ultimate price.

I have had my share of aggressive pit bulls but it doesn’t come close to the amount of awesome pit bulls I have been in contact with.

It breaks my heart to only see the bad stories being told about this breed when there are so many incredible, heartwarming stories to be told.


For certain you’ve had to deal with aggressive animals on the street. How do you do it?

My ability to handle the aggressive dogs definitely comes from my many years in the field. I have a great ability to read dogs eyes and body language. This plays an important part in my safety. When I’m the street, I NEVER let my guard down and I’m always on alert. I never go on a call without some type of protection. Luckily we have a lot of tools that help protect us. Its all about being smart and safe – NOT being a “Super ACO”.