Guest post by Jessica Brody
for ASPCA Month (April 2018)
Pets are good for you! According to the Centers for Disease Control, having a pet can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and decrease feelings of loneliness. But the benefits run both ways -- by getting a pet you’ll be helping another living being to enjoy a happier existence -- especially if you adopt from a rescue shelter. However, looking after an animal is a lot of responsibility. Read on to learn the main things you need to keep in mind.
Get the Right Pet for You
Many people already have a strong sense of which kind of pet is suitable for them, maybe due to growing up with a certain pet. If not, the stereotypes about cats and dogs hold roughly true -- cats are more independent as they can entertain themselves when left alone and get by in a smaller living space. Dogs need to be walked, need more contact with you and ideally a yard to run around in. They are better for people who are at home a lot, but enjoy getting outdoors often.
There’s also a lot of variation between breeds of cats and dogs. For example, many high-energy dogs including Irish setters or Jack Russell terriers don’t seem to have an off-switch while others such as bulldogs might have trouble keeping up with you. Ask at the shelter to make sure you’re getting a pet that suits your lifestyle.
Prepare Your Home
Whichever pet you choose, make sure there are no harmful items around that they might chew on or try to eat. Cover up electrical cables, and ideally unplug appliances when not in use. For dogs, this includes the trashcan, so get a dog-proof one.
Cats require some additional steps, because they will climb on everything, so don’t keep anything valuable or hard to clean up on a tables or shelf -- including plants. Cats will also try to play with anything string-like, including blind cords, so make sure there’s nothing like this around and secure all windows as they will try to escape.
Finally, make sure you’ve bought everything you need -- food, scratching posts, bowls, a bed, litter tray, leash, and toys.
Get Off On the Right Paw
If you’re bringing a cat home, leave her in a small room to start, which contains food, water, a litter tray and scratching post. Let her out of the carrier in the room and let her look around. She might hide and that’s okay; let her settle in naturally. If she comes to you, try playing with some cat toys, otherwise leave her to it. As she starts to look more comfortable and shows signs of wanting to explore -- which may take days or weeks -- you can let her into a larger area of the house.
For dogs, a similar principle applies -- give them their own space and let them come to you. However, when you first arrive home, take them to their toilet area first and reward them with a treat. This is the start of house training. Again, if she comes to you, play with her and teach her simple commands like “sit.” This interaction will help you to bond. Don’t forget to take her out for regular walks. If you work long hours or will otherwise struggle with this, hire a dog walker to make sure she gets the exercise she needs.
Take Care of their Health
Ask the shelter what vaccinations your pet has received. For dogs, the main vaccines you need to worry about are canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies. For cats, the main ones you need are panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I and rabies. You may need other vaccines depending on where you live, so find a local vet and make an appointment to discuss this. You should also get your pet neutered or spayed, both to reduce undesirable behavior and to prevent the pitter-patter of additional tiny paws.
Being a first-time pet owner can be challenging. There’s a lot you need to know, and it can take time for your new family member to adjust. Just make sure your home is prepared, and give them time. Your new furry friends will settle in soon enough.
Rescue Chocolate is proud to announce our 2018 beneficiary: Old Dog Haven. We chose this group out of 50 applicants for their terrific work on behalf of abandoned senior pets.
Old Dog Haven--based in western Washington state--is not a single shelter but a network of foster homes which provide care for senior dogs who have been abandoned. The group has more than 300 dogs in permanent care, and it covers vet bills of almost $90,000 per month.
Founded in 2004, Old Dog Haven has so far rescued 5,000 senior dogs, and counting!
When the members hear about a dog who still has a reasonable life expectancy, they attempt to make adoption placements. If a dog-owner needs to re-home his or her own animal, they assist with referrals.
While heroic measures are never deployed to extend life, the members are devoted to keeping the dogs as healthy and comfortable as possible.
Here’s a bit more information from OldDogHaven.org:
All too many dogs of advanced years find themselves terrified and confused at shelters, where their chances of adoption are almost zero. Others are desperate for a new home because of an owner’s death, a move, owners working much longer hours, trouble with small children in the home, or bad financial circumstances. Many of these dogs are in poor physical condition as well, making them even less appealing to others. Helping them is sometimes challenging, is often expensive, but is very very rewarding. Our goal is that their last years are happy and that they die safe and at peace, knowing they are loved. Wouldn’t we all wish this for our own pets and for ourselves?
A Few of Our Contributions
We thought you might like to see what your Rescue Chocolate purchases have made possible in the way of donations to animal rescue organizations. The list below shows donations we made during the first 11 months of 2017. It contains both cash gifts as well as the value of in-kind chocolate goodies and gift certificates.
In addition to these donations, Rescue Chocolate has supported hundreds of other groups by supplying chocolate at below-wholesale prices. The groups then re-sell the bars and truffles at the regular retail prices, keeping the difference as fund-raising income. Please let us know if you or your rescue group would like more information on how that program works.
We are pleased to support the work of these wonderful organizations, see all of our rescue partners here.
Some of our 2017 contributions:
|4 Luv of Dog Rescue||$25.00|
|A Home For Every Living Pet||$6.00|
|All Shepherd Rescue||$6.00|
|Animal Friends of Westmoreland||$25.00|
|AniMall Pet Adoption||$25.00|
|Athleta Sherman Oaks||$150.00|
|Bark in the Park||$25.00|
|Best Friends: LA||$25.00|
|Best Friends: NYC||$180.00|
|Best Friends: Strut Your Mutt||$25.00|
|Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue||$25.00|
|Broome County Humane Society||$25.00|
|Butte Humane Society||$25.00|
|Catskill Animal Sanctuary||$25.00|
|Central Indiana Lab Rescue||$25.00|
|Compassion In Action||$225.00|
|Everett Animal Shelter||$25.00|
|Feline Community Network||$25.00|
|Foster Dogs Inc.||$2,087.30|
|Friends Animal Shelter (TN)||$25.00|
|Friends of Mount Vernon Shelter||$25.00|
|German Shepard Rescue of N. CA||$25.00|
|Global Sanctuary for Elephants||$25.00|
|Green Acres Farm Sanctuary||$25.00|
|Greyhound Pets Inc.||$13.00|
|H&P Animal Alliance||$25.00|
|Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary||$3.00|
|Havanese Rescue Inc.||$25.00|
|Heart Rescue Team||$25.00|
|Heartland Farm Sanctuary||$308.10|
|Ho-Bo Care Boxer Rescue||$25.00|
|It's All About the Paws||$25.00|
|Justice for Animals||$25.00|
|Karma K9 Rescue||$8.00|
|Kelly Foster Kittens||$25.00|
|Lighthouse Farm Rescue||$25.00|
|Logan County Animals||$25.00|
|Longears Mini Donkey Rescue||$25.00|
|Loveland Farm Sanctuary||$25.00|
|MarrVelous Pet Rescue||$25.00|
|Milwaukee Pug Fest||$25.00|
|My Dog is My Home||$25.00|
|Needy Paws Rescue||$50.00|
|New York Animal Care & Control||$226.00|
|North Shore Animal League||$40.00|
|NY Bully Crew||$52.90|
|One Tail at a Time||$6.00|
|Oregon Rescue Challenge||$25.00|
|Paws to People||$25.00|
|Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary||$25.00|
|Pibbles & More Animal Rescue||$8.00|
|Pit Bull Rescue Central||$45.00|
|Pit Sisters (Jacksonville Beach)||$6.00|
|Providence Animal Center||$25.00|
|Puppy Rescue Mission||$25.00|
|Quincy Animal Shelter||$25.00|
|Raising Aid for Dogs At Risk||$63.00|
|Regional Animal Shelter||$25.00|
|Rock the Rescue||$25.00|
|Rockin Pets Foundation||$15.00|
|Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue||$25.00|
|Safe Animal Shelter||$25.00|
|Save the Trailer Park Cats||$3.00|
|Shelter Animals Rescue Group||$25.00|
|Sioux Falls Area Humane Society||$25.00|
|Small Angels Rescue||$16.00|
|South Central Bloodhounds||$3.00|
|Survivor Tails Animal Rescue||$25.00|
|Tactical Team for Protection of Animals||$25.00|
|The Bunny Hutch||$25.00|
|The Humane League||$24.00|
|The Rubin Museum||$30.00|
|Three Pits & a Lady||$25.00|
|Valley River Humane Society||$25.00|
|Wags & Whiskers Pet Rescue||$25.00|
Devotees of Shark Tank are familiar with the question quivering entrepreneurs are often asked: what makes your product so special and unique that somebody else couldn’t just copy it and offer it for a few cents less, putting you out of business?
In our heads, we shout back the answer in Rescue Chocolate’s case. Try it! Because that would mean even more money in the pockets of animal rescue organizations, which is our dream. (Besides, we don’t think anyone else could quite duplicate our scrumptious flavors, so we’re not going anywhere.)
Over the years, we’ve seen the rise of companies replicating our model. We LOVE that their missions include a donation component for the animals. Here are some of our favorites:
The Little Pine Restaurant in Silver Lake, California is a 100% organic vegan bistro, created by the musician Moby. It offers brunch, dinner, and afternoon tea, with all proceeds going to animal welfare organizations.
Sew Craftie is an ultra-creative little operation based in Flint, Texas. Proceeds from the sale of their quilts, dresses, Easter baskets, microwave mitts, kitchen towels, and other handmade items are donated to the SPCA of East Texas.
The Tree Kisser shop and blog are run by designer Jessica Schlueter. She donates 10% of her sales to the Love Infinitely Project Animal Fund, which in turn disperses money to animal rescue or advocacy organizations. Patrons can pick up tees, tanks, sweatshirts, totes, gift cards, and more.
Top naming honors go to Grounds & Hounds Coffee Company, where “every pound saves a hound.” The coffee is, of course, fair-trade and organic. The company’s donations are earmarked for no-kill rescue organizations which provide safe havens for pups between homes.
Hendrick & Company has partnered with more than 600 shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries across America to help animals in need. The donations come from sales of the company’s jewelry, apparel, accessories, and pet products. Founded by David Hendrickson, the business is based in Orange County, California.
Organic Wine Lounge (OWL) began as a vegan-friendly wine brand, but it has now morphed into a fashion brand as well. A portion of the proceeds from every sale go to animal rescue groups.
Sticking with wine, there’s the Cru Vin Dogs Wine Group. A dollar from each bottle sold online goes to one of the company’s Loyal Companion animal shelter or rescue group partners. Just a few of the organizations on the list include Freedom Service Dogs, Guardians of Rescue, Western Border Collie Rescue, and Adopt a Lab.
For non-alcoholic liquid refreshment, check out Margo’s Bark. This company makes an all-natural cane sugar-based root beer, and all profits go toward helping shelter dogs. There are tee shirts and hoodies too.
Greener Pup makes eco-friendly dog and cat beds whose fillings are made out of 100% recycled plastic. Profits are donated to the Ace of Hearts Foundation which is dedicated to rescuing dogs the day they are scheduled to be euthanized and finding them permanent, loving homes.
In keeping with the animal-products-for-animal-donations theme, there’s WoofTags. The company offers colorful and differently shaped ID tags that won’t wear out as quickly as the more common vending-machine variety. All of the company’s profits are devoted to helping homeless dogs and cats.
Finally, getting super close to home, we’d like to mention Safe Harbor Confections which donates all profits to animal welfare organizations, just like we do. And, just like us, they purvey handcrafted dark chocolate made in small batches. However, they differ from Rescue Chocolate in that they do offer non-vegan products as well.
If you know of any other companies in the animal rescue category that haven’t made our list, please let us know about them so that we can be sure to support them all. This is one area where we definitely don’t want to crush the competition!
As most animal rescuers know, love at first sight is real. There’s no way to prove it scientifically, but we’ve all experienced it.
Of course all the pooches and kitties pull at your heartstrings as they press their noses through the wire cages at the shelter. But there’s that one, the little one (or the big one) in the corner, with the white (or black, or brown) fur, and the sweetest hazel (or black or brown) eyes, and the floppy (or straight) ears…. That’s the ONE who grabs your heart, paralyzes your legs, constricts your lungs, scrambles your brain--and suddenly you’re hopelessly in love.
We want every visitor to the shelter to get that feeling, and act on it. The adoption form is filled out in a flash, the forever home is prepared, and we rejoice.
But what happens when that certain furry someone attracts more than a single suitor? What if there are two or three or more adoptive families vying for the same animal? Unfortunately, we’ve all seen a lot of this phenomenon too. One animal and adopter is the winner, and the human losers slink off, perhaps never to cross the threshold of the shelter ever again.
It’s a shame, because all the animals who didn’t manage to catch an adopter’s eye are still there and still so worthy of finding good, loving homes.
So it’s high time to publicize the existence of other unscientific but completely real forces in the universe: “Love at Second Sight.” And “Love at Third Sight.” Even “Love at 47th Sight.” Or however many sightings it takes!
The truth is that love doesn’t always arrive in a blinding flash. Sometimes it takes a few get-to-know-you visits, taking place over a series of days or weeks or months. Sometimes the spark of attraction doesn’t ignite for awhile. But when it finally does leap into flames, it is just as passionate and blissful as spontaneous combustion, or even more so.
We wish we could tell everyone shopping at shelters: If your first love has already gone… yay! You now have an opportunity to fall in love all over again, and save another life. Give ‘em all another look.
Any one of those animals can be the best, most lovable companion ever.
Rescue is always right, right? Not necessarily. We have learned that sometimes a group will call itself an animal rescue when in fact it is a backyard breeding operation, pure and simple. And dog- and cat-breeding is the last thing we would ever want to support!
For the first several years of Rescue Chocolate’s existence, we prided ourselves on supporting any rescue group that came to our attention. If the group wished to partner with us on fundraising, we were happy to oblige. We offered $1 back for each product purchased by their members on our website. We also sold our products in bulk to them at below-wholesale rates for Girl Scout cookie-type drives. We didn’t ask for proof of 5013(c) status—the Internal Revenue Service’s benchmark for a non-profit organization. Instead, we trusted that animal rescuers were good-hearted souls, with or without the legal paperwork.
But we changed our policy when we learned how easy it is for conniving people to christen themselves with a cute animal-oriented moniker and then sell to the unsuspecting public their “rescued” kittens and puppies—animals which they purposely bred in often inhumane conditions, á la puppy mills. This deviousness runs counter to everything we believe!
Now we are careful to insure that the groups we support are legitimate rescues. The 501c(3) status is helpful. We also investigate how long the group has been around, what its website looks like, how active it is on social media, and the strength of its track record in placing truly homeless animals. We still want to be able to assist small, grassroots groups. But we know our customers want the assurance that we are only donating to animal heroes, not animal exploiters.
We hope that when you are ready to adopt, you will do your homework as well. Make sure the group from which you are acquiring your new best friend is in fact the rescue that it purports to be. If there is a ragtag bunch of puppies in crates on a street corner, and a rough “Cutie’s Rescue” sign tacked up somewhere nearby, be suspicious. When the clues are not quite that obvious, it is important to do due diligence.
The quickest way to put unscrupulous breeders out of business is not to patronize them. That’s one more strategy in our arsenal for achieving no-kill status nationwide!
Coffee does NOT get me started in the morning. I’ve never developed a taste for it. I guess that puts me in a 1% club of sorts. For the first couple of years after Rescue Chocolate was founded, it seemed like the other 99% were contacting us and begging us to come out with a coffee-flavored chocolate bar.
We resisted as long as we could, but then finally succumbed. And I have to admit, our best-selling Forever Mocha bar is divine. In addition to coffee, it contains a wicked-good hazelnut praline. It is possible (for me) to wolf down two whole bars in the blink of an eye.
Which got me thinking… what other vegan products containing coffee might be worth a try?
When visiting relatives in the Midwest recently, I stumbled upon something called Coffee Cereal. My cousins claimed this stuff allowed them to be super-efficient in the morning. Instead of drinking a cup of coffee and eating a bowl of cereal, they could eliminate one step and just ingest coffee cereal! I tried it. It was a corn flakey-type product with a nice zing. Coffee Cereal is only available around Illinois, but the two physics students who founded the company have plans to expand.
Moving away from the breakfast hour, there are the lovely little VerMints breath-freshening capsules that come in a variety of flavors--including Café Express. These contain organic, fair-trade coffee and a touch of Vermont maple syrup. Truly yummy, any time of day.
But let’s get back to the most important component of any meal: dessert! It is wonderful to note that most of the self-service frozen yogurt places popping up around the country have a soy-yogurt option for their patrons. The Tutti Frutti stores actually have a decaf coffee bean topping with which to crown your soy-yogurt creation.
Another great topper or drink infuser is the coffee syrup from Torani. It can be stirred into smoothies and spritzed over all kinds of baked goods for a genuine Brazilian coffee bean punch.
Meanwhile, So Delicious Dairy Free offers a coffee soymilk ice cream whose title says it all: Mocha Almond Fudge. The almonds are crunchy and the fudge creates a luscious swirl throughout the creamy coffee-ness. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the product is certified organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
Coffee-flavored desserts abound at my local vegan cupcakeries and donut shops. Here in Brooklyn, we are blessed to have Dunwell Donuts at our fingertips. Amongst their whopping 75 flavors, they serve up the Espresso Mocha donut which is to die for. In towns where there are not such civilized businesses, regular bakeries might do a single vegan flavor of the week incorporating coffee, if they are asked nicely.
And if you’ve had enough coffee-inflected food for awhile, how about considering some coffee beauty products? Lavami makes a body scrub utilizing finely ground coffee beans, coconut, raw sugar, coffee butter, almond oil and cinnamon and vanilla essential oils. I think the coffee is included for its rich aroma, while the other ingredients are designed to hydrate and nourish your skin. Then there’s the Wake Up Bath & Body gift collection from Java & Co. You get body butter, body frosting, a body scrub, a lip balm, and a lip scrub… all sporting your choice of regular or decaf coffee. These companies have the coffee addicts covered, literally.
All this talk of coffee is making me too antsy to sit around the computer any longer. Coffee lovers, it’s time to sally forth and conquer the world.