Sunday, November 25, 2012

2 Year Anniversary At IndyHumane OR There Are Only So Many Tomorrows

This past Thursday was my 2 year anniversary at the Humane Society of Indianapolis.  The past two year have been fun, exciting, fun, stressful, heartbreaking, but most of all, so incredibly fulfilling. 

It is so easy to choose a job because it pays the bills or because your dream isn't "realistic"  Prior to working at IndyHumane, I worked as an underwriter (basically doing financial risk assessment) for OneAmerica.  My coworkers were pretty nice, and the paycheck was great (as were some of the other perks of the job), but I couldn't get out fast enough.

I worried that financially, I couldn't afford to take a pay cut (and who wouldn't love to pay off student loans faster?), but after a lot of planning and discussion with Aaron, we figured out a plan.  Even with a plan, I was still scared.  What if I regretted it and couldn't get another job doing the same thing or something in the financial industry?  What if I didn't like it as much as I thought I would?

The truth is, chasing your dreams is far from easy, but just making room for those dreams to develop and evolve seemed to be the key to make those dreams a reality for me.  And here's what I found to be the most startling discovery: You will never ever be prepared.

I'm not suggesting that just mustering up some courage and taking a blind leap is what you should do, but what I do mean to say is that while careful planning goes a long way, you can never fully prepare yourself for the amazing journey.

It was the same way when we started our business.  We wrote the business plan, did our research, and talked to other business owners about how to get started.  In the end, we were met with TONS of obstacles that we couldn't have predicted.  We had faith enough in ourselves that we could handle whatever came our way or could ask for help.

Two years later, I couldn't be happier with my choice, and my dreams have evolved since I first started down this path.  I want to work internationally with an animal welfare group (in a Spanish speaking country ideally!), and I would also like to help contribute research to our field so that animal welfare professionals and volunteers can make better (life-saving) decisions for animals in their communities.  Those are just a couple of things on my list : )  We shall see where the journey takes me, but in the meantime, here are some great memories from this past year:

My pit bull mix Angel and I get to meet great kids like these guys throughout the year!
And sometimes the kids come to visit the shelter!
This picture was taken over the summer
I participated in community events to let others know
about the resources that IndyHumane has to
offer (and brag about our wonderful adoptable animals!)

This photo was taken at the Great Indy Pet Expo. 
This is just one of several foster animals we have
hosted in our home!  Faye is our current foster, and she is adorable!
We opened up this BEAUTIFUL new facility to
offer low-cost vaccines.  We will soon be
offering low-cost spay/neuter surgeries!

I can't believe I get to come here every day for work!
And of course, I adopted this handsome little dude!  He only has
 two legs and his family was distraught about the
 very few options they had (because of his disability) when they were
forced to surrender him.  IndyHumane gave him a chance,
and now our family can't imagine life without him!

And here are a few videos made during the last year:

An overview of IndyHumane: 

A heart-touching adoption story: 

A video about the NEW Animal Welfare Center:

And finally, one of my big guy, Rocky (he's cuddled up on the couch next to me right now!):

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Adventure Out West & the Spay/Neuter Conference

At the end of October, I had plans to go to the United Spay Alliance conference in Las Vegas to learn strategies to make spay/neuter programs more accessible to those who live within our state.

So many of the men and women at the
conference are so inspiring!
I went as the representative from Spay Indiana and was so inspired by what my peers are doing within their respective states.  Each state has its own challenges: some states have huge Indian reservations that are difficult to reach because they are so remote, other states have expanses of rural land, and other states have very few shelters or rescues, much less affordable spay/neuter options.  

I learned about a new product called Zeuterin, which is a chemical that is able to sterilize male dogs.  Dogs do not have to be under anesthesia (a sedative is adequate), so this makes older male dogs a particularly good candidate for this method of sterilization.  Secondarily, this method of "neutering" the dog is helpful for those guys who just can't part with their dogs testicles - believe me, there are more out there than you think!

Prior to the conference, Aaron and I headed to Vegas a little early for some fun!  As soon as we landed, we rented a car and headed to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon.  Specifically, we wanted to hike to the trio of waterfalls within the Havasupai Indian reservation.

The closest hotel to the trail head is an hour away, so we found ourselves at a kitschy little place that looked like something from the animated film Cars:

The hotel utilized old, broken down cars as part of its decor, and Tex Mex style was all the rage!  Even though the place was a little corny and the accommodations were definitely not of a fancy hotel, we had a great time and to relieve the experience that we had the next day at the Grand Canyon, I would go back in a heartbeat

The hotel had a cafe nearby, and of course, there was more over-the-top decor - LOVED the T-Rex!

The next morning, we arose at 4:30 am so that we would have enough time to hike to the campsite and to spend time at the waterfalls.  

With the 1 hour drive to the trailhead, we started hiking as the sun was rising - BLISS!!  Even though it was an early day, I have such fond memories.  

Hiking the canyon was a really neat experience.  I had to be careful not to run into anything or trip on something because I was taking in the view.

 After hiking about 10 miles, we came to the second waterfall: Havasu Falls (the first set of waterfalls is called Little Navajo).  It was spectacular.  I have never seen such beautiful blue water.  It made us think of Berry Blue Kool-Aid!

By the time we reached our campsite, we were pretty wiped out.  We had hiked a good distance with 30-40 extra pounds of weight on our backs from our camping gear.  We set up our tent and sleeping bags and made ourselves lunch before hiking to the last waterfall - Mooney Falls.

We brought canned spaghetti for lunch, but unfortunately, we forgot to purchase the self-opening type of cans....oops.... Aaron brought a claw hammer and we were able to make that work, thank goodness.

The cooking process was pretty interesting.  Because no campfires are allowed, we brought a sterno and built up some rocks around the can - it worked perfectly!  Clearly canned spaghetti is by no means a culinary masterpiece, but it tasted sooo good because we were starving from all the hiking!

Money Falls is just beyond the campgrounds by 2 miles, and even though we were tired from hiking the 10 miles to the campground, it was worth the trip!!  The waterfall is about 200 feet tall, and it is magnificent.  To get to the bottom of the falls, you start at the top and have to carefully scale the rocks down to the bottom.  A series of chains and ladders help you get down to the bottom, but it was still super scary.  My legs were trembling during the entire descent.  

Night comes early in the Grand Canyon - this picture was taken between 6:30 pm and 7 pm (and right before we went to sleep!).  Even though it was early, the 14 mile hike wiped us out, and we went to bed.  Being out in the middle of nowhere has some huge advantages - we could see thousands of stars.  It felt like we were in a planetarium.

Sure, you could pay big bucks to have a helicopter take you out of the Canyon or even rent the Havasupai horses to carry your stuff for you, but what fun is that?  We opted for the more frugal option and hiked out ourselves the next morning.  I think these are pretty fake smiles - we were very tired and sore from the hike the day before.  We learned that most people do not make the hike over two days - usually, people camp for a couple of nights to let their bodies rest to make the hike back to the nearest road.

The last part of the hike was a 2,000 elevation change within a 1/2 mile span.  Truth be told, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it.  The last half mile was every bit as hard as finishing the last few miles of the marathon.

 We took historic Route 66 to get back to Vegas (and to a HUGE meal and a hot shower!)

To round out our outdoor fun, we stopped by Las Vegas Cyclery to rent some mountain bikes and went to Red Rock Canyon to hit the trails.

Unfortunately, we didn't pick a great trail, but the landscape was fantastic!

We found a few neat things along the way like this cave.  

Vegas itself was pretty amazing and fun, but we were content with the one day we got to check it out.  We got to walk into most of the hotels to see the crazy displays - what a difference between our day camping and this!  

Hilariously, the most expensive night for us was camping in the Grand Canyon.  It was twice as expensive to sleep on the hard ground in a tent as it was to stay in a nice hotel in Vegas!

We went to the top of the Stratosphere to watch the sunset - it was a bit windy!

And to round things out, I had to post this picture: how ironic is that we were in Vegas for a conference about neutering and this ad for the Blue Man Group is up: 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My First Marathon

Well, I survived my first marathon!  Admittedly, it was more difficult than I expected - some of the challenges were out of my control and others I could have helped!  It was extremely rewarding, and I am looking forward to doing my next one!

So,  I saw one crazy guy running barefoot... yes, no shoes and no socks.  I thought of him as the rain started to pour down (more on that later!).   And then there were people cheering with signs along the way that made me laugh.  Here is a list of my favorites:

1) Think Kenyan
2) Don't poop your pants
3) Keep Going, Keep Going (that's what she said)
4) Beat Oprah (she completed the Marine Corps Marathon in 1999)
5) Chuck Norris never ran a marathon
6) You're kind of a big deal (this sign was being held up by a woman dancing in the street wearing a ridiculous hat and purple boa)

The songs I put together for the race were perfect, especially the song that showed up at mile 13: Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer."  The chorus goes like this: Oh, we're halfway there, ooooh-oh!  Living on a Prayer.  Seriously?  Hearing those words at EXACTLY the halfway point?  Amazing.  I started to tear up.  Don't judge!

My main motivation throughout the course was Aaron - he dropped me off in the morning and rode his bike around so that he could meet me every few miles along the route.  It was SO wonderful to see him and hear him cheering me on!

Here were my biggest challenges:

Three days prior to the race, the weather forecast showed no chance of rain.  I was a little surprised when the sky yielded freezing rain.  At one point, frozen rain was bouncing off my face.  With the temperatures dipping to about 35 degrees, my legs felt stiff, and my hands were tingling.

The night before the race, I went out to eat at an Italian restaurant called Sangiovese.  Despite the reservation we made, it took them an hour to seat us.  The last time I went to Sangiovese, their furnace was having issues, so we had to eat our food as quickly as possible before it went cold!  Needless to say, I will probably never be back!  As a result, I ended up losing an hour's sleep.

On Thursday, I played in a soccer game, and even though I told myself I would take it easy, I didn't.  The soccer game left me with a sore muscle in my lower back that caused me issues during the race.

It was extremely challenging to say the least, but I am so happy I did it.  I am already looking to sign up for another one for next year, and I can't wait!  It is extremely rewarding and while the training is hard, there is nothing like the feeling of finishing!

I bought myself a tie-dye pink sports bra for the race!

Mile 6ish (I think!)  

Mile 9ish (I think!)  

Can't remember which mile this was... but I'm still happy at this point, so it was definitely some time                      before it started raining!