May 24th, 2020

Charity Sunday: Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) #AnimalRescue #CharitySunday

Welcome to Charity Sunday, a monthly blog hop hosted by author Lisabet Sarai at Beyond Romance.

I started volunteering at Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA), a no-kill shelter for cats and dogs that is local to me, in March of 2014. Since then, barring three few-week hiatuses, I have been there almost every Sunday to walk dogs, and usually been there at least one additional day per week to do things like snuggle cats, oversee multi-dog play groups, and work with potential adopters. I’ve also done things off-site like help with fundraising and write the “Dog of the Week” and “Cat of the Week” columns for the weekly volunteer newsletter.

The onset of awareness and caution around COVID-19 threw a wrench in that, and I haven’t been to FOHA now since mid-March, which is the longest period I’ve gone without being at the shelter since I started volunteering there. It has been hard to stay away, but I have taken seriously the request from public health professionals to stay at home, and it has felt appropriate to me to do so and to let the staff at FOHA (which, as an animal shelter, is certainly an essential business) do their jobs without the extra risk of my coming on-site and into their physical workspace as a volunteer.

FOHA has an upscale retail shop in the area that provides a significant portion of the organization’s budget—100% of the shop’s proceeds go to FOHA, and the store does a brisk business. It, of course, had to close in the face of COVID-19 concerns, which, while appropriate, eliminated a significant source of funding for the dogs’ and cats’ care.

I myself have four pets: two dogs and two cats, all rescues. While my cats did not come from FOHA (long story), my dogs, known as “the puppies,” did. They are litter-mates who arrived at FOHA in the summer of 2015, nine months old and deeply and heartbreakingly fearful of people.

I and another volunteer (who now happens to be my boyfriend and who has been sheltering in place with me for the last two months!) walked the puppies almost every Sunday, and I was also usually there one other weekday per week to take them into play groups with other dogs, which seemed to help them a lot. I was in the process of searching for my first single-family home at the time, and the puppies had to spend several months at the shelter while that process completed. During that time, I got to know them pretty well, and they both arrived at the point where they let me get close to and touch them with increasingly less fear.

In February 2016, I closed on my current house, and the puppies, now named Liam and Chloe, came to live with my cats and me.

While they look like they’re kissing here, they’re actually playing tug with a tiny piece of cardboard left over from their recent paper-towel-roll-holder massacre! (Chloe left, Liam right.)

FOHA is a 100% no-kill shelter and takes care of every cat and dog that it brings into its care for as long as it needs to. Ideally, that time is short, as the aim is for all the cats and dogs to be adopted to wonderful homes. If that doesn’t happen, or no matter how long it takes, the dog or cat in question is in a safe place where it will receive food, veterinary care, comfortable shelter, enrichment, and love for as long as it needs to.

For every comment on this post, I will donate $3 to FOHA. Thank you truly!

In my brand new short story collection, Initiative: Tales of Erotic Boldness, there are two stories that feature pets—one a cat and one a dog (both rescues, though that’s not specified in the text). In both cases, the pet is instrumental in facilitating the meeting and connection of the main characters.

In this excerpt from “Fulfillment,” Kristen and her cat Cheerio have just gone outside after the fire alarm in their apartment building has gone off for the third time that week:

-from “Fulfillment”

Outside, the other building occupants were gathering on the grass on the far side of the parking lot, most looking as annoyed as she felt by the interruption. Cheerio struggled as sirens came faintly in the distance, and Kristen held his leash and set him down on the grass. She watched as two fire trucks pulled into the parking lot and let loose a barrage of heavily clothed firefighters that dispersed toward the building—which looked, to her, quite fire-free.

Several minutes later a firefighter ambled up to a nearby group of her neighbors. Though only the front of his face was visible with his uniform on, that part of him was attractive enough to make her do a double take. He said something to the group before making his way to her. Kristen reached to pick up Cheerio, who was oblivious to all but the unexpected opportunity to chew grass in the evening sunshine, as the firefighter approached.

“You probably know the alarm has gone off here several times recently,” he said to her without preamble. “It’s the same alarm in the same place in the building that’s been pulled each time.”

“You can tell which actual alarm is pulled?”

“Yes. We’re letting people know because if we can figure out who’s doing it—probably a kid who doesn’t understand the seriousness—we want to let them know it’s illegal to pull the alarm without cause. It costs a lot of money each time fire trucks get called somewhere, and it can keep us from going somewhere we might really be needed.”

As he spoke, the cat in her arms stretched forward to closer examine the stranger, and the firefighter reached to scratch Cheerio’s head. Kristen looked down as the man’s strong fingers ran over her cat’s fur, Cheerio purring delightedly beneath the massage. There was something endearing about the casualness of the man’s attention to her cat, and she swallowed as she realized suddenly how close his hand was to her breast. The vague heat she’d barely noticed forming under her skin shot up a notch.

“Jonathan,” another firefighter called, and the man in front of her turned and strode back to one of the trucks without a backward glance. Kristen watched as he climbed into the monstrous vehicle, which in turn began to slowly creep back toward the parking lot exit.

Find out more about Initiative here.

Thank you so much for visiting, and please check out the other posts below in today’s Sunday Charity blog hop! Oh, and if you sign up for my newsletter, each issue concludes with a picture of one or more of my pets. Just FYI. ;)


17 Responses “Charity Sunday: Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) #AnimalRescue #CharitySunday”

  1. Hello, Emerald!

    I’m thrilled to have you join in this month’s Charity Sunday. Thank you for your very generous donation offer.

    I am also an animal lover, though my experience is mostly cats. We have two right now, both of them rescues. One of them is handicapped because she fell off a roof as a kitten and seriously broke her front leg. She limps when she walks – but she runs perfectly!

    The puppies are gorgeous!

    Thanks again. Blessings to you!

  2. Debra says:

    This is a wonderful charity. Our cats are always rescues. they are amazing pets.

  3. Great choice for Charity Sunday!

  4. Lisa Skibenes says:

    What a thoughtful way to keep on helping your beloved shelter. The animals are lucky to have you, ❤️❤️❤️

  5. Emerald says:

    Much love to you all, and thank you for commenting!

    I didn’t post pictures of my cats only because they didn’t come from this particular shelter, but I adore cats too (I actually know more about and have more experience with cats than dogs, having grown up with cats as pets). I’m so glad to read that you both have rescue cats, Lisabet and Debra!

    My cats are also physically challenged, Lisabet. Radar is blind—he has been all his life (his eyes didn’t develop enough to open, likely due to a congestive illness his mother had). I got him when he was about ten weeks old, and it seems to me that his never having had eyesight and thus not knowing what he’s missing (or that he’s missing anything) has worked to his advantage. His skill at navigating is astonishing, and his hearing is quite acute. One could watch him and not know he was blind. His name is “Radar” for a reason! Lilac was in an accident prior to coming into my care that resulted in her front left leg being amputated. She gets around quite well, though, and seems to have particularly strong rear haunches a result! She is quite a graceful jumper.

    Thank you, Dee, and thank you, Lisa, for coming by and commenting! It’s a delight to see you here. <3


  6. Judy says:

    The cat in your story and my dog share the same name, Cheerio! Thank you for your work at the shelter. Blessings.

  7. Judy says:

    The cat in your story and my dog share the same name, Cheerio! Thank you for your volunteer work at the shelter. Hugs and blessings.

  8. Mercedes says:

    Love the name Cheerio and that you’re continuing to support the animals even when you can’t be there with them in person.

  9. Oh, look at the puppies! My current cat is a foster fail and the one before him was a rescue cat. So I think this is a wonderful choice, and thank you for the work you have done. I hope will be able to continue it soon.

  10. Robin says:

    The building of your family (including boyfriend) is just so romantic! :)

    I write this with my rescue pup lying next to me. She’s enjoying a rubber bone with frozen peanut butter inside it.
    She’s a very happy, lucky dog. We don’t know why, but as a small puppy (2.5 or 3 months, give or take a couple of weeks) she ended up at a shelter in rural Louisiana. The shelters in this area are chronically overcrowded, and they are definitely not no-kill shelters.
    A rescue organization here in Seattle teams up with an organization in Louisiana to try to help with this problem. Folks in Louisiana visit the shelters and rescue all the dogs they can (plus rescuing from other places), get them necessary medical care, and foster them until they can come to the Seattle area to be adopted. They also have a subsidized spay and neuter program. It’s all pretty awesome.
    So that’s how we ended up with our Annie-dog. :) She was about six months old when she came to live with us after spending two months with a foster family.

  11. Em says:

    Emerald, I love this idea! I am enjoying the book thus far and recommend it to anyone. Sending love to all of the animals at FOHA, especially the village. xo

  12. Patti S says:

    Love you Emily ❤️ thank you for all you do for FOHA. Your heart is so big. Your pup’s and cats are lucky to have you! Oh, and so is M (the boyfriend)❤️

  13. Fiona McGier says:

    Dad was allergic to animal dander, so I never had a childhood pet. Once I was an adult, I had 3 dogs, one of whom I got from a family who wanted to breed their full-blooded female, but something jumped the fence. So i got the last puppy, when she was only 5 weeks old. She was my companion and my joy. Sooner or later, if husband and I ever get to retire, we’d like to adopt another dog. One of my besties has always worked at shelters, and she’s got 2 cats (failed fosters, meaning she couldn’t give them up!) and a dog.

  14. Sandra Rowe-Dagostaro says:

    Thank you for doing this❣️

  15. Emerald says:

    It is such a delight, truly, to have you all here. Thank you for commenting and helping support FOHA!

    Robin, yes, my understanding is the Southern US has a tough stray dog overpopulation situation. I’m so glad Annie is with you now! I hope you’re all doing well.

    Em, Patti, Sandy, thank you so much for stopping by!! It’s so very lovely to have you here. Patti, that is delightful—though I consider myself quite fortunate as well! ;) Em, thank you, but the idea is all Lisabet’s—she conceived Charity Sunday and hosts it monthly at her blog! <3

    Hi Fiona! Yes, we're quite familiar with the term "failed foster" at the shelter. :) My dad didn't (still doesn't) like dogs, so I didn't have any growing up either. I actually had quite little experience with them when I started volunteering at FOHA. Thank you for sharing about your companion dog, and I wish you and your husband all the best if at any point you add a new canine family member. (Well, I wish you the best regardless, but just wanted to comment on that specifically!)

    According to my math, I'm at fifteen comments including this one (I'm including my own because, in my case, why not), which puts us at $45 for FOHA! Fantastic. Thank you so much. I'll wait a couple more days to see if any more comments appear and plan to send the donation online on Wednesday. Thank you all so much!!!


  16. Michelle W. says:

    Hi Emerald! Thank you so much for doing this fundraiser and for adopting your shelter pets (and everything else you do for FOHA!). Good luck with your latest release!

  17. Emerald says:

    Thank you, Michelle! And thank you all again for your comments! With this one, that brings the total comments to seventeen, which equals a grand total of $51 for FOHA. Thank you! I’m going to go make the donation now. If anyone feels moved to donate to FOHA at any time themselves, please find the link to do so at

    Be well!

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