Jul 6, 2011

Sweetness and Sorrow

I have not posted here recently because I was waiting for some big news to share and there did not seem to be any. In the mean time as I look back over the past few months I see that so much has happened and though it may not qualify as breaking news it certainly is a series of events leading me to the next leg of my journey in both the business of baking and the business of animal rescue. Since my last post there have been holidays and occasions which have given me a chance to bake. Baking is still a passion and being able to donate even small amounts of money to Kids Against Animal Cruelty has been a blessing. My goal for Rich Delights is to see it prosper in order to to leave something for my children as well as the opportunity to make a difference in the present.

One of the most rewarding things I got to do recently was visit a dog my teen and I helped get off the streets in February. I spoke of her in a previous post. We named her Precious.She was rescued by Stacy Parmer of The Barking Lot. They named her Gina and then changed it to Geisha.We went to visit her in El Cajon where she is sort of the mascot for the facility in which she lives. We came bearing baked goods, blankets from our Synagogue's youth group and some dog treats we had collected. We were so impressed by what we saw there and even more impressed not only by how happy Geisha was but by how happy she makes those around her. We were so grateful that we took the time to run after her months before when she was a stray running down the streets of West Covina. I don't think I will ever be able to just drive past another stray without stopping to do whatever I can to help. They count on humans to do this for them and I don't plan to be a disappointment.

When I am not baking or taking care of parental obligations I fill my days with activities that make a difference in the lives of shelter or rescue animals. My teen and I still spend most of our free time on the week ends volunteering at adoptions outside the Mira Loma PETCO. Our  friends with Angels 'n' Paws Rescue have many dogs, mostly pit bulls, in boarding and we are trying to help get them out. We volunteer with other groups as well but this one is more local and easier for us to attend.

Last month we did something that was both purposeful and fun.
 Devin Fox and Lou Wegner are friends who have acted together and worked together to network dogs on facebook. Devin is a teen singer who has a hit single out. Lou Wegner is an actor and the founder of Kids Against Animal Cruelty. They formed a duo to make a music video to benefit animals in need. My daughter Shira has been a volunteer alongside Lou at events and also represents his group here in Riverside where we live. She was asked if she wanted to have a small part in the video.On Father's Day we drove to the Baldwin Park Shelter so she could film her scenes.It was a day filled with work and play and in the end there will be good coming out of a collaboration amongst teens.

The past couple of months have also found us chasing stray dogs in town. Not sure why they keep finding us but they do and once we see there is one needing help we cannot turn away. We saw a post on facebook about a stray pair of pit bulls running near the river trail and while we were out searching for them we came across two pre teen boys walking with an 80 pound pit bull trailing behind them.When we stopped to ask if he was their dog they informed us that he was not and so began our adventure with a dog we called "Bubba". He was picked up by animal control services and listed as non adoptable at the shelter. They said he growled at another dog at intake but when we went to plead for his life we found they had already changed his status and he was now adoptable. While working to find a rescue for him we made daily trips, often twice a day, to the fields where the female river trail stray had been rescued by our friend Amber Houck. A few weeks of leaving food and water we noticed the food was sitting untouched and began searching listings for the shelter. Sure enough he was there. During this time we had a bit of a miracle as the owners of "Bubba' finally showed up at the shelter and took him home.It seemed bittersweet as we grew to love him and were going to miss him yet so grateful that this would be one less euthanized pit bull.

Things were not so good for our male river trail stray. The dog who had limped and eluded us for weeks would spend the remainder of his life isolated in a kennel with no chance of adoption. His only hope was a rescue and as hard as I tried to make that happen I failed. I asked to meet with him when we went to the shelter but was denied access due to his fearful and apprehensive nature. I wanted to see him but nobody would bend the rules. My last memory of him is sitting at the far edge of the field where I could not approach him. He is no longer on this earth and I will always feel that I failed him. However, his destruction made me more determined to fight harder for those that cannot speak for themselves. For weeks I worked to keep him alive and now I live with the realization that all I did was pro long his life until animal services caught him. I wish things had been different and the sadness is overwhelming but if I had it to do again I would not change a thing. It is always worth the struggle even when we lose in the end. His female companion turned out to be a sweet dog and I began a new friendship with the wonderful woman who rescued her. It is time to move on and honor the memory of the animal I could not save by not giving up on the next one that needs someone to champion for them. The weeks have been exhausting. The ups and downs include the emotional rewards of animals going to forever homes and the emotional devastation of losing so many  to euthanization.

My wish is that some day all the cages will be empty and there will no longer be a need for animal rights activists to point their efforts in this direction but we are far from that happening and unless people wake up and understand the reality of what is happening in shelters then things will continue on a downward spiral. The only relief I feel is knowing that my teen and so many like her work hard to educate others on the need for adoption, fostering, spaying and neutering. The children of today are the adults of tomorrow and if they can open their minds to the truth then the future will hold something better for our animals....I am not sure when the time of change will occur or if it will occur in my lifetime but  I will always march on through the sweetness and the sorrow.
Last but not least! On July 2nd there was a  meeting in Beverly Hills with the incredible Laura Keats. This meeting was for Southern California women who volunteer or work in animal rescue. Not sure what is going to happen with this but I will be sure to update you in the future and no matter what happens..... I will continue .....baking4you!

Mar 9, 2011

Sweetness Shows and Grows

Valentine's Day week end turned out to be a special one. On the 13th of February I drove my daughter and a friend towards West Covina to volunteer with Animal Advocates Alliance and KIDS AGAINST ANIMAL CRUELTY at the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter. We were going to help with the Furry Valentine Event. The teens were going to meet up with Lou Wegner and I was bringing Rich Delights for the bake sale made up of treats from many volunteers. All proceeds would go to the shelter.
When we were approximately one black from the shelter we noticed a female pit bull running down the street. She had no collar and her ears and tail looked chopped.We were not sure if she was pregnant or had her puppies. We soon saw our friend Elaine Seamans hanging a sign for the event we were going to. 
She gave us some treats for the dog and called animal services as we took off in the car and on foot. The teens ran and I drove. After a couple of blocks the dog got herself stuck in a fenced area and the animal control officer was able to get her safely out and into his truck. We did it!! A life was saved and we had not even made it to the shelter yet. The problem then became what her future might hold. Baldwin Park is a high kill shelter and a pit bull does not stand a great chance for adoption.
 After intake we played with her for over an hour. She was loving and playful and we were so happy. As the days passed and we realized she was not going to be claimed her fate became worse.One week later we went to the shelter and helped with networking photos and videos headed up by Ric Browde and his wife Holly.We played with the dog that we  named "Precious" and they named "Gina"......Soon after I began asking for donations or pledges in hopes of a rescue coming forward . Donations and pledges started coming in from friends and people I talk to on facebook . As her time was running out  Sasha Abelson told me that she was being rescued by The Barking Lot.
The next day my daughter Shira and I drove to the shelter and then on to Pasadena where she would be fostered for the night. The following day she would be taken on a transport to San Diego where her new life would begin. They are caring for her as she in need of surgery on her rear legs but once she heals they will help her find a forever home. What started out as a day to help with shelter animals and a bake sale turned into a wonderful adventure of saving a life from the streets. I am so grateful we stopped for her and even more grateful for the village that gave her a new life.
So many of my responsibilities took a back seat to this and I had a lot of catching up to do. I was also trying to figure out how I could further help with the surgery bills for Precious~Gina. I normally give 10% of sales to KIDS AGAINST ANIMAL CRUELTY but after speaking to them we decided that the money would go to The Barking Lot. Soon after we decided this I received an email from Rabbi Singer of Riverside Temple Beth El with an order for Purim gift bags that the Religious School students would be bringing to some of the elderly congregants for the holiday. How wonderful that there would be treats for many of the shut ins who are unable to make it to the Synagogue as much as they'd like to and at the same time there would be money to add to the donations. Rich Delights would bake and the results would be that people and animals would benefit. This is what life should be about~Doing what we love and loving what we do and always looking for ways we can give back for all that we have. Regardless of what we have there are always those with less and it is our obligation as human beings to care.
 A few weeks ago a man held the door open for me while I was walking into the post office. I said thank you but did not really pay him any attention. He told me to have a nice day and I did just that. The next time I went I noticed this man also had a wife and 2 dogs. Sometimes he asks for money and sometimes he doesn't. I always give him something if I have it. This past week I shared some dog treats given to me by the Riverside County Animal Shelter as well as some sample sized bags of food that I picked up from a local pet store. This couple wanders around and cannot carry much. I told them that I might not always have money to give but I will keep treats and dog food in my car and will always stop and ask if they need anything. It is so simple to do this yet it never crossed my mind in the past when I saw homeless people and their pets. Funny how ideas pop into our heads when we are ready to receive them.

I want to end this with a bittersweet story of a kind security guard on one of the movie lots who had a dog that took a bullet meant for him and saved his life. The man's name is Nicholas and his dog was Doc Holiday.Turned out Doc had cancer and Lou Wegner asked that we team up to send money to help defray some of the medical treatments. When Lou and his mom Diana went to give Nicholas the money they were met with a man very upset because the dog had passed away and he did not have money to go pick up the cremated remains. So, instead of the money going to help heal the dog it was used so this man could bring his beloved pet home to rest. I am sorry we could not help him with the cancer treatments but so grateful we could give him back his best and only real friend.

"Chag Sameach" to my Jewish friends and I'm asking that you use the holiday of Purim as a reason to give something where needed~As I look for new ways to open my heart and expand my social consciousness I will also keep opening those oven doors as I continue baking4you!

Jan 24, 2011

Sweet Show of Support

As Valentine's Day approaches Rich Delights is preparing some very special sweet treats that are not normally on the order menu. They must be custom ordered but we are happy to offer Smores on a Stick and Candy Hearts which are available in decorative containers and packaging. It is a way to add something extra to our already scrumptious cookies and breads. We look forward to a busy holiday.
In the midst of time limited menu ideas and shopping for holiday themed items there has been plenty going on in the name of animals. On a personal note my family has grown with the addition of a fourth and final furry member. If we are going to go out and advocate for adopting then we need to continue to walk the walk in our personal lives. All of our dogs are rescues and they are all spayed and neutered. We will not be doing any fostering now but we will continue travelling around and working with different rescue groups at their adoption events. It is usually myself, my daughter and as many teens as we can fit into our vehicle and they come to represent KIDS AGAINST ANIMAL CRUELTY a group founded by child actor Lou Wegner.
A couple of weeks ago we went out with the amazing Royce Bordes as she represented Angels N Paws with another group called Fur Babies. We have volunteered with her since in front of PETCO in Mira Loma where she and her pit rescues from Angels n Paws as well as Diamonds in the Ruff will be every Saturday and Sunday from 11-3. In any case, the event was called Pizza and Pits and there was a television crew filming for the show Pit Boss. We worked with our own group of pit bulls and also met many wonderful rescues.One of my favorites is Angel City Pits which we have gotten to know through the talented and beautiful Stephanie Draven. Stephanie and her husband AJ Draven had two of their foster pit bulls with them. Both were rescued and had horrible cases of mange which they treated and now these dogs are healthy and happy and ready for forever homes. The day went well and we look forward to watching the event as part of the Pit Boss show when it airs.

The following day we drove back to Los Angeles to volunteer with Stephanie Levy the founder of Animal Advocates Alliance. I have mentioned them on many occasions because we are with them the most and love everyone who comes out to work with them. There is a wonderful core group of dedicated people who come out week after week to support them and the animals they bring in from the Baldwin Park Shelter. These are animals coming from a high kill shelter and they are driven to Pan Pacific Park where adults and teens do what they can to showcase these animals in hopes of them becoming someones life long friend. It is always so rewarding to see an animal walk away on a leash with its new guardian or family.
I suppose it seems like we are doing the same things we have been talking about for months and that's because we are. RICH DELIGHTS will continue to offer Traditional and Vegan treats in hopes of building a business that is about to celebrate its second birthday at the end of March. As far as the animal business goes I guess we will continue doing what we are doing until people begin to understand the severity of the overpopulation epidemic and do something about it. When breeders and pet stores stop their selfish selling and people spay and neuter their pets then maybe our work load will lessen. However, until there is a cease in animal abuse, the killing in shelters stops and all the shelter cages are empty we will continue the fight accompanied by an ongoing donation of a percentage of sales to KIDS AGAINST ANIMAL CRUELTY while still enjoying ....... baking4you.