We all know what it’s like to have a dog in Olean. Many have a fenced back yard so their pooch can roam around their own territory, sometimes with a dog door so they can come and go as they like.
My brother and his wife have two rescue greyhounds who dash in and out and race around the garden whenever their special door is opened. Others walk their dogs on a leash, or take them along on a run.
But what about big city dogs who live in apartments with no yards or dog doors. How do they get their exercise and relief? Hard to imagine, but there is a whole profession built around this need in New York City, with scores of “dog walkers” employed full-time to take these pets on walks. Even someone from Olean, in New York City to become an actor, does this, sometimes walking 10-12 miles by the end of the day.
I have a bird’s eye view of the park from my NYC apartment window, so I see every dog and walker in my neighborhood. At the Olean Meditation Center there is a practice called “loving kindness meditation” and in part of it you think of someone you love, someone you have neutral feelings towards (say a clerk in a store you sometimes visit) and someone you don’t like, and send them feelings of loving kindness. Through this practice you begin to feel a tie to the person.
Sometimes when you greet people as old friends they are surprised.
The same seems to happen with the favorite dog I see from a distance. I spotted him with his owner on Broadway one day, and gave him a big smile. The owner seemed surprised until I explained that he was my favorite dog of all I see entering the park. I got a big smile in return.
Owners walk their dogs early in the morning and late at night, before and after work and after fun evenings out. Dog walkers come once or twice a day and either take your dog exclusively (expensive) or team up your dog with one or two others (less expensive), going to each apartment, leashing, walking and returning them.
The walker in my photo must be the least expensive of all — a never-before-seen pack of 14 dogs with one walker, all seeming calm and happy together.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: But back to the dogs and cats in Olean at the SPCA. Some would call them “lucky dogs” as there are so many kind and hardworking people devoted to doing all they can for them. The SPCA has put together an excellent board of directors, drawing from all parts of the community, to grapple with the complex details involved in maintaining and enhancing an animal rescue, shelter and adoption center.
Here’s a quick look at the current SPCA board:
Dan Evans, president, owner of Pleasant Valley Greenhouse; Joan Carl, vice president, retired anesthesiologist; Christina Ingalls-Brisky, treasurer, accountant Cattaraugus County; Stu Smith, secretary, retired sales administrator, Cutco.
Board members are Ronnie Schenkein, retired veterinarian; Diane Jubera, retired educational administrator; Karen Crowley, engineer, Siemens in Olean; Sandy King, home engineer; Michelle Lavoie, director, Olean Public Library; Sameera Firkel, Siemens.
NEW SHELTER MANAGER: Danielle Jackson has joined the SPCA team as shelter manager with experience in both dog training and non-profit administration. She’s a specialist in behavioral training of dogs of all types and breeds. She has worked with aggression, anxiety from separation issues to food guarding and leash training, among other things.
She’s happy to merge her dog training expertise with her people experience.
“I like the mission of the SPCA,” Jackson says. “Every person who works here has a passion for animals and the volunteer base I’ve seen since I started is amazing and dedicated. I’m honored to be part of the team, and getting to know the surrounding communities and meeting everyone at our events in the months ahead.”
Danielle has three children she loves dearly.
FERAL CAT SHELTER WORKSHOP: Join the SPCA on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at the Olean Library for a hands-on workshop to make winter feral cat shelters. Thanks to a Manley Grant covering the cost of supplies, the workshop is free to the public and attendees can take home a shelter for the feral cats they care for.
Thanks to Sheryl and Galvin Anderson and Sarah and Selma Devries for leading it. For reservations, text or call Sheryl 244-1809.
BAKE SALE AT SPCA CHRISTMAS BOUTIQUE: Don’t forget that the famous SPCA Boutique in the Olean Center Mall will be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Christmas. On Dec. 7, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., board member Joan Carl’s son Greg has volunteered to hold a bake sale at the store. Come buy some delicious treats or beautiful gifts and support the shelter at the same time.
SAD NEWS: Longtime SPCA volunteer Velma Tanner passed away Nov. 14. She loved the animals and faithfully wrote kind thank you notes to SPCA donors for almost 10 years, until 2018 in her early 90s, using note cards that she picked herself. Everyone looked forward to seeing her, and all are thankful for her devotion.
HAPPY ENDING: The SPCA got a call on a cold evening recently, reporting that a kitten was stuck very high up in a very tall tree. Local tree services were called, and Andrew Laborde and Garrett Tinnerman were the heroes who came to the rescue and saved the kitten.
And an article in the New York Times reported that hotels around the country are teaming with local animal shelters to host adoptions in their lobbies. The presence of the dogs cheers people up and provides a new way for them to get good homes.
ANNUAL NEWSLETTER: The SPCA newsletter will have been mailed right after Thanksgiving. If you are not on the mailing list and would like a copy, please contact the front desk or email: email@example.com and request you be added to the newsletter list. Give your name, address and email for future editions.