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Adopting The Shy Cat

Lucy was a shy cat who overcame being timid through patience and love.

Lucy was a shy cat who overcame being timid through patience and love.

By Colette Hayes

Below Heaven Can Wait volunteer Colette Hayes shares her story about adopting an extremely shy cat. It is not uncommon for rescued felines to be timid and it takes time for them to warm up to a new family once they are adopted. Sadly, many are returned because they weren’t given a chance to come out of their shell. This story shows how patience and understanding won the love of a very shy kitty.

Ten years ago I adopted Lucy a 2 year-old multi-colored, domestic, short haired cat. When I saw her in the shelter she was rubbing up against the bars of her cage, purring, and meowing loudly. She seemed to be telling me she would be a great addition to my household and a good companion for my 6 year-old cat, Miguel. The shelter had limited information on Lucy, only that she had been turned in two weeks before, because she did not get along with the previous owner’s child. I visited Lucy twice over the next week and each time she purred and rubbed her head against my hand. She seemed to be friendly, loving, and outgoing, the perfect pet for my little family.

At home I brought Lucy to her own room, complete with water, food, and a litter box. I knew Lucy would need time to get used to her new home and her new roommate, Miguel. When I let Lucy out the carrier I expected her to sniff out her new surroundings, instead she bolted under the bed. I left her in peace so she could explore her new home. For the next few weeks whenever the door to her room opened she would run under the bed, cowering in the farthest corner, staring at me with fear.

Miguel began sniffing under the door and meowing at his new roommate, but Lucy seemed uninterested in meeting Miguel. On several occasions, I closed Miguel in another room and opened the door to allow Lucy to explore all of her new home. She timidly stuck her head out the door and sniffed the air, but would not venture farther than the doorway of her room. Loud noises and sudden movements sent her running to the safety under the bed. Over the next few weeks, I would leave the door open, but Lucy never left the room or even under the bed except to use the bathroom and to eat. Miguel would visit, sniffing around, tasting her food and water and trying out her litter box, but eventually he ignored Lucy’s room. Often it felt that I still only had one cat as Lucy rarely ventured from her room or from under the bed. I was very disappointed that she turned out to be so timid.

Back Camera

It took nearly a year before Lucy was comfortable enough to leave the safety of the bedroom. During that I time, I left her alone, knowing she would need to meet me on her terms. After 8 years she still doesn’t come out when guests are over and she certainly does not let just anyone pet or hold her. Loud noises and sudden movements still send her running from the room. Friends and family that come to visit wonder if Lucy really exists, but at 10 years of age, Lucy has chosen me to be her person.

At night when it is just her and I, and all is quiet, she will venture from her hiding spot under the bed and rub her soft head against my hand, purring and meowing loudly. She does not wait at the door for me, she is not perched on the sofa, watching me, listening to me while I discuss my day, but in the stillness of the night, she is there. When everything is quiet she will hop on my bed, and cuddle next to me, circling a few times, and then settling in next to my side. It took a long time for her to be comfortable and to trust me, but it was worth it. I know Lucy won’t allow just anyone to be her person, so I feel incredible lucky she chose me.

Click Here to see the delightful cats waiting for their forever home at Heaven Can Wait. Cat adoptions are held Thursday afternoon through Sunday inside Petsmart at 7050 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy. Dogs are adopted each Saturday at Bone Appetit on W. Tropicana and Ft. Apache.

NV Energy Employees Help Prepare For Lose A Pound Memory Walk

NV Energy employees laced 4,900 memory collars for the HCWS Lose A Pound Memory Walk – Sunday Oct 21

When you come to Heaven Can Wait’s 12th Annual Lose A Pound Memory Walk on Sunday, October 21 you will see the entire pathway of the one-mile walk lined with the brightly colored paper collars pictured above. 

There will be nearly 30,000 symbolic collars placed along the path in memory of a cat or dog that was euthanized this year because of pet overpopulation in Las Vegas.

The collars are purchased by animal lovers who support the work Heaven Can Wait does to stop innocent pets from dying

Individuals and companies from all over the city volunteer their time to painstakingly lace the collars together to create one long chain.  

Employees from NV Energy turned stringing the memory collars into a very successful event and put together a chain of 4,900 collars.  The program was organized by NV Energy Program Manager and HCWS volunteer, Diana Kangas.

“We had our volunteer event at the same time as the company held a “Meet the Candidates” event, so there were a lot of people milling around,” said Kangas.  I gave out a few brochures and talked about what the collars represent.  One of the candidates for Congress, John Oceguera even stopped by to chat about it.”

“The collars have really raised awareness.  While we were channeling our inner kindergartners, we talked about our own pets and about the homeless pet problem in Las Vegas.”

Heaven Can Wait is very grateful for all the work NV Energy employees do all year long for homeless animals.

Lose A Pound Memory Walk – Sunday, October 21

Location – W. WayneBunker Family Park (Alexander and Tenaya)

Registration 9a.m. – Walk 10a.m.

Click Here for Online Registration

Pricing – Individual -* $30, Group or Family Pack (4 people) **$50

*1 LAP t-shirt and 1 goodie bag

** 4 LAP t-shirts and 2 goodie bags

Skip Martin for Gimme Shelter

Check out this great video from Skip Martin, Grammy Award winner and lead singer from Kool and the Gang about Gimme Shelter!   Skip will be headlining at the 3rd annual Gimme Shelter Concert to benefit the cats and dogs at Heaven Can Wait Animal Society.  Join us at the concert at Lake Las Vegas on Saturday, May 28.  You can buy tickets here!  See you there for a fun evening under the stars!

HCWS Youth Group – Yard Sale

Oreo Cookie

Oreo needed a special family that could handle her occasional seizures.

Written by HCWS Volunteer – Carol Lisowski

Susan and Kevin Smith lost their 17 year-old lab around Christmas time.  Kevin thought their Yorkie, Major Little, would be so lost without his companion, so he started looking for another dog to bring home to his family.  He found Oreo at the Heaven Can Wait Dog Adoption Center and fell in love with her.  Susan and their children felt the same way when they met her.

 Oreo immediately fit right in with Major and her new family.  She acquired a middle name as well–Cookie.  What she loves to do the most is snuggle.  She doesn’t particularly like being by herself and wants to be held.  The Smith’s don’t know a lot about her previous owners, except that they were told they didn’t have time for her. 

In the past Oreo has experienced a couple of seizures, but the veterinarian thinks she is doing relatively well and doesn’t want to put her on medication at this point.

Oreo loves playing with Major, especially trying to take the squeak toys away from him before he can chew them apart, pull out all the stuffing, and hide the squeaker under someone’s bed.  She loves to go for walks and plays well with all the other dogs at the dog park.  Because Oreo is a girl, she gets to dress up in sweaters or her coat and thoroughly enjoys being a fashionista.

 The family enjoys coming home to find Oreo waiting for them at the door.  She really makes them laugh because she’s such a funny girl.  She frequently “yawns” which looks like she is talking to them, telling them about her day or what she wants to do tomorrow.  Another successful happy ending.

 If you want to create another happy ending for a dog or cat yearning to bring joy to your family, visit the Heaven Can Wait Website to find available adoptions.

It’s Great When Someone Takes A Chance On You

Jesse and little Chance make a good team.

Written by Volunteer Lucy Joyce

I’m Chance, I was at Henderson Animal Shelter on death row.  I wondered why I had one more day to live, when I knew I was truly innocent?  My eyes were sad and teary, I knew I was a good dog.

The kind folks at Heaven Can Wait Animal Society knew I needed help, they took me in to their ‘Pups on Parole’ program. I was free from death row thanks to HCWS – this time things were different. All the guards at the prison loved my friendly nature and the inmate handler was patient with me.

It took seven months of training to direct my energy and high spirits into the dog I am today. I am an Australian Shepherd mix, we like to herd and we like to run. My handler understood that I needed time to learn, and taught me so well, that I learned commands, like “sit” and “stay.” I showed everyone how smart I really am. I was so busy going through my training program that I even learned how to ‘play dead’. I still had so much life in me, I knew Heaven Can Wait would find a good home for me.

Chance channeled his high energy into learning a variety of tricks.

Now here’s the part, I like the best – Jesse Nelson saw me at the HCWS Adoption Center at PetSmart.  Jesse could see the same spirit in me that my saviors from Heaven Can Wait had seen. Jesse’s girlfriend’s dog had recently died, she didn’t know how she would deal with another dog. That’s where I, Chance, really could help. Jesse and I make a good team, we continued our ‘Pups on Parole’ training.  I can stand on my back legs and high five Jesse. With my lovable personality and cute tricks, I managed to win Jesse’s girlfriend’s heart with my friendly spirit.

Isn’t it great when someone takes a chance on you? 

Chance found a family that challenged his intelligence.

CLICK HERE to meet other One-of-a-Kind pets ready for adoption at Heaven Can Wait Animal Society.

Las Vegas Valley Humane Society Dog Walk is April 3rd!

The Las Vegas Valley Humane Society will be holding their annual dog walk-a-thon on April 3, 2011 at the Kellogg Zaher Sports Complex: Located at 7901 W. Washington Avenue.  Click the banner below for more information.

Life on the Road is Perfect for Atlas

If you ever wondered if the Heaven Can Wait Dog Coordinators have a hard time saying goodbye to the pups they rescue and rehabilitate – you will want to read this story.  Atlas found the perfect home with a life on the road, but the adoption almost didn’t happen because of the bond he and a coordinator shared.

Atlas is a St. Bernard/Collie mix that was rescued from a trailer park by Tania, an HCWS Dog Coordinator.

Tania said, “I received a call from a woman who found Atlas wandering down the street with a nasty cut on his leg.  He was severely matted and filthy and terrified.  Although the woman attempted to do the right thing, she had him chained to a tree in the middle of the summer with hardly any shade.  Dog food was strewn on the ground and covered in ants and there was only a bit of water in a filthy plastic bowl.”

When Tania took Atlas to the HCWS headquarters he was too afraid to walk inside, so she picked up “all 55 pounds of him” and carried him in.  His tail was tucked between his legs and he refused to look at her.  Tania gently bathed and brushed him and let him rest for the night.

“After a few days of spending time with Atlas, I walked into the room to get him ready for his daily walk and he almost tackled me to the floor.  He was wagging his tail and licking me to death.  Atlas was a completely different dog and so happy to see me!”

“From that day forward Atlas would bounce like a bunny in the yard and run and play with the tennis balls I threw for him.  He never left my side and when it was time to go in, if he ran ahead he would peek around the fence to make sure I was coming,” said Tania.

Finally Atlas was ready to enroll in the Pups on Parole program where he quickly learned his obedience commands and became a model dog.  Tania knew soon he would be ready to find a permanent home and she tried to prepare for the day when she would have to say goodbye forever.

One day Tania received a call from Norma who is a cross country truck driver.  She saw a picture of Atlas online and she desperately wanted to adopt him.  Norma had recently lost her dog who had accompanied her on the road for many years.

At first Tania declined Norma’s adoption because she wouldn’t be able to check in on Atlas if he lived on the road.  But Norma did not give up.  She bombarded Tania with references of family, friends, veterinarians, pet stores and even pet friendly restaurants.

Then Norma came to town to meet Atlas and Tania knew she had to make a decision.  Norma and Atlas had an instant rapport. 

“So I did what was best for Atlas and let him go to his new home knowing that he needed what was best and that Norma could provide it for him.”

Atlas loves his new life as a traveling dog and is spoiled rotten by Norma.  Tania said, “He’s been to more states and landmarks than I have!”

Norma understands the bond between Tania and Atlas and sends pictures and updates from the road.  She even brings Atlas to visit when they pass through town.  “He’s gained weight and is the biggest goofball you will ever meet – he even sits in the front and helps navigate,” bragged Tania.

And recently Atlas became a big brother when Norma adopted another dog named Tyson.

Click Here to see all of the great dogs and cats ready to find “forever” homes.


Atlas and Mom - Norma


Geisha Girl!

By Harriet Kaufman – HCWS Volunteer

Geisha was one of the dogs that came to HCWS who was labeled a “nightmare”. She was in the Pups on Parole program for a full four months, which is considered to be a long time for a pup’s rehabilitation. Geisha was suffering from major separation anxiety, when her prison handler was not around, and she was aggressive towards other dogs. That was simply the way she displayed her shyness and insecurity.

Finally Geisha was adopted, but her new owners were often not home and her separation anxiety worsened. Unfortunately, she was returned to HCWS.

Geisha then spent an additional six months at HCWS, until her luck changed and she was adopted by Leeza and Dennis Osburn on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). And, according to Leeza, what a day it was! Leeza and Dennis wanted a companion for their Chihuahua/Basenji mix “Missy”, and Leeza searched Petfinder for months – until she came upon Geisha. “I just knew the moment I saw her photo that she was the one,” Leeza told me. “Her little picture just spoke to me.”

Geisha fit all the requirements she wanted for Missy and their household. Missy was very shy, just like Geisha, and Geisha is a terrier mix, just like Missy. They are both the same size, and the minute she introduced Geisha to Missy, they were taken with each other. In fact, Leeza says Geisha bonded with Missy even before she bonded with her and Dennis!

When Geisha came to the Osburn’s, she was quiet and very timid. Now she is goofy and funny and greets them at the door to welcome them home. All she needed was a little attention. Leeza said she never even got a chance to experience Geisha’s separation anxiety, because she is never alone anymore. She has, however, become a bit of a kleptomaniac! She affectionately takes small objects that belong to Leeza off her nightstand and places them outside. This is a puppy that is now thriving, even though someone had given up on her.

Every Thursday, Geisha now attends obedience classes with Dennis to work on her social skills. She is now even able to go to the dog park and play with the other dogs. This just goes to show what love and attention can really do for a pet.

Animals suffer from separation anxiety, just as humans do. If you simply do not have the time or desire to dedicate to your dog or cat for playtime, snuggling, and companionship, it is in your best interest (and the best interest of the animal) to not adopt until you can give it the love and care it deserves. That way, they have a real opportunity to be placed in their forever homes. Thank you to Leeza and Dennis (and Missy) for welcoming this Geisha girl into their loving family!

Geisha and Missy with Dennis and LezzaGeisha's first trip to the dog park.


Feral Cat Clinic Celebrates It’s 9th Year

Sunday, October 10, 2010 marked the 9 year anniversary of Heaven Can Wait’s Feral Cat Clinic.  This program focuses on sterilizing only unowned feral cats in order to target a group that is consistently being impounded and euthanasia at the local shelter at an astonishing rate.  We celebrated the day by sterilizing 288 ferals and finishing around 1pm.  The grand total for the monthly clinic over these nine years is an amazing 14,823!  All of us would like to thank the wonderful volunteers and veterinarians that have been helping every month to make this clinic the greatest in the country.