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Blog Post # 5, February 13, 2021

An Amazing Journey: A Story about How Humans Learned to Speak Up for their Pets

Then… was the beginning of my incredible journey in positions of service to the community in which I reside and the organizations that I had just joined. At almost eighty years of age I was, once again, a “newbie” and a “greenhorn”. As always, I stepped up to help out and to serve.

In the beginning, I was just one of the older residents in the community of older persons. Initially, I joined the Critters Club, an organization that supported the pets and pet owners in Quail Creek.  I was a pet owner with two larger dogs needing lots of exercise. A few months later, I joined the Writers and Poets Club because I was a writer and poet. Between these two organizations and staying active with all the amenities the communities offered, I stayed busy. In the process of staying involved, I met a lot of really amazing residents many with similar backgrounds and interests.

Early on, in both clubs, I volunteered to help out and serve. A few months into my residential tenure, I somehow became the President of the Writers and Poets of Quail Creek. And true, I did not know exactly how or why this position had been conferred on me. I had just indicated my interest in helping out this fledgling club of six to eight members. Then, by some mysterious process, I became the person in charge of the club. This pattern was to repeat itself in the ensuing months of my residency in the community.

As I mentioned above, I had joined the Critters Club. Within our community this was a large organization. I had joined the Critters Club as a means of supporting the health and wellbeing of my pets. Shortly after joining, my role as just a member with two big dogs quickly changed as I became the President of two hundred other pet owners and their pets. What follows is the story of how this all happened and a few of the accomplishments and wonderful experiences that have followed. I am not sure that I can adequately explain all that I have experienced both positive and challenging. 

So, yes, I had joined the Critters Club and one year later had become the President of the club. No election; no process except perhaps through osmosis I guess. It just happened. Mysterious.

The Critters Club is, in fact, one of the oldest and largest chartered clubs in the community. It was twenty times the size of the Writers and Poets of Quail Creek. I did not volunteer to be the President. I was busy enough enjoying my retirement years in a community full of amenities and things to do. Then, one day, I remember sitting at my computer and reading an email sent by the current President of the Critters Club expressing his desire to retire and calling for volunteers to assist with the organization during the time of transition. 

It was mid-November and I waited to hear back from the President before year end indicating who had responded to his call for help. And sure enough, a month or so after I had “raised my hand” to “help out”, I got a phone call from the retiring President whom I had never met. He informed me that I had been the only member (out of nearly one hundred memberships and 200 residents) who had responded to his call for help. This was a large organization with a few members who had been a part of it for over ten years. It really surprised me that no else had stepped forward to help. In the same conversation, the President told me that I had been “elected” by default and, if I wanted the job, I was the new President of the Critters Club. I wondered, “why me?”

I told him that if I could find 8-10 members who would assist me with this challenge of leading the club forward, I would accept the position. I wondered what I was getting myself involved with and just what the responsibilities of the position entailed. I discussed the matter with a few close friends who also Critters Club members. They offered support and a willingness to assist. So, I assumed the role as President.

President of the Critters Club. The following week I met with the outgoing President to learn about all that he been doing in his position as President. It was now January and was now President of two clubs! I had not sought either position. I still hold both positions as acts of service to my community.

When I became President of the Quail Creek Critters Club, I did not know what to expect nor did I know what to do. I had not been nominated for the position nor had I been elected. True, I volunteered to help out in some capacity.  Now I was in charge. My journey was just beginning. I went right to work and worked in same manner that I had approached my challenges as a lifetime long athlete, educator and leader. I simply tried the best I could do to contribute. I would give these positions the best I had to offer.

Now… as I look back on the past thirteen months of my work with the Critters Club, I can only smile. There have been many positive moments have been a part of my journey. It has been an amazing journey.

Here is an example: despite being impacted by ten months of the COVID19 virus, last year the membership in the club increased by over 100%. The funds in the Critters Club bank accounts tripled in size. And, as we enter another year with the virus still influencing our lives, it became time to renew all club memberships for the upcoming year. As I write this little story, we are not even two weeks (only eleven days) into the new year. Yet, the following events border on the amazing.  

In just eleven days, the club has a total of more than 98 members. This is the largest total number of memberships for any previous year (in just eleven days) in the history of the club except for that of the previous year. This is a positive trend. There are no prior membership statistics in the club records that come close to comparing to what has been demonstrated in just these eleven days.

For example, we have more new/first time members in a single year than ever before and we have more donors who have donated ten times more money to the club than ever before in an entire year, in just eleven days. We have 24 members on our donors list (twice as many as in the whole last year). Our overall membership total is well on its way to break the previous one year record established this past year. These numbers are inspiring and signify to me that the Critters Club is becoming a large and influential group of residents who care about the well-being of their pets. True, it may be a little early to make these projections, but I believe in our club and its agenda, our members and their passion and enthusiasm and in our compassion for those who have no voice.

Our human voices need to be heard and respected by the Board and administration of the Property Owners Association. In fact, we are now on the way to becoming not only one of the oldest chartered clubs but the largest chartered club in the community. Yet sadly, the dog park, the only gathering place for our resident pet owners and our pets, is not recognized in such a way that it receives any significant funding from the POA budget which is supported by the HOA funds of every resident in our community. And, again sadly, it is not maintained in a manner consistent with other common areas and amenities in the whole community. It is an eyesore within the otherwise beauty of our community. It is time for change! Not in the future but now! We deserve be treated better and with respect!

Written by Paul Riggins, President of the Quail Creek Critters Club, January 11, 2021

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Blog Post # 4, February 8, 2021

Ella and Boomer: A True Story

by Paul Riggins, PhD

I would like to share a true story with you that has important implications for any resident of Quail Creek who owns pets. Please read.

One morning early in October of 2020 while making my daily supervision visit to the dog park, I noticed a vehicle parked inside the area normally reserved for golf carts. Although there are two large handicapped parking signs located on the park fences, large vehicles do not normally park in the area which is often busy with residents bringing their dogs to the park in their golf carts. I was curious as to who it was parked in this manner and wondered about the purpose of their visit.

There were no golf carts parked in the area at this particular time. So, I thought it might be a new resident or perhaps a prospective home buyer who was unfamiliar with the dog park and just looking at the space. However, I knew this was not a good time to visit the dog park because it was locked and not open for use due to anyone during the annual reseeding of the grass.

I pulled my golf cart into the small dirt parking area to check out the situation. Immediately, I noticed an elderly woman walking over to the bulletin board area from the locked entrance gate. She had a small dog on a leash with her. She looked lost and confused. She was happy to see me. She was additionally happy when I told her that I was in charge of the resident Critters Club. I asked if I could be of assistance.

She told me her name and a little about her long nineteen year history as a full-time resident, one of the original residents, of the Quail Creek community. As it turns out she was eighty-eight years old and alone; her husband had died a few years before. Her tiny dog was named Boomer. She asked if it were OK to park in this area and I said it is posted as handicapped parking so therefore it must be OK. She told me the Patrol had told it was not OK and another resident in a golf cart had told not to park in the area reserved for carts. In fact, another resident came in while I was talking to her and told her that she could not park in this area. The truth is there are no designated handicapped parking spaces in the paved parking lot that close to the dog park. This quiet, elderly woman with her little dog could hardly walk from her car let alone from the paved area. More truth… no one was working in the park and no work was in the process of being done inside the park. I wished I had a key to one of the locks. I really wanted to help her out. I felt really sorry for her and Boomer.

I asked her if she was a member of our Critters Club. She said no but had always been interested yet did not how to join. I told her it was easy. Just complete a Membership Application form mail it to the address on the form. In fact, I thought there was a form located in the protective box a few feet away from her. I walked over to get one for her and nope, they were all gone. They go fast. I asked her if it would be OK for me to bring one by her house later in the morning. She said, of course. She and Boomer got back into her car. After she got her car turned around, she waved to me and pulled safely and slowly out of the area.

This moment; this situation; the picture of this handicapped elderly women alone with little Boomer who was a legacy resident was etched in my mind and it will always be a reminder of why we, as members of the Quail Creek Critters Club, are passionate about preserving the well-being of our Quail Creek friends who are residents and their pets and for that matter all the pets and pet owners in the community. They deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and provided with a large well-cared for area and facilities that are designed especially for the pets and their in our community.

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Blog Post # 3, February 6, 2021

Pets are an Essential Part of Older Adult Communities

By Paul Riggins, PhD

According to the Global Animal Medicines Association, today there are “more and more people have pets who share our homes and daily lives.” This is a well-known fact documented many times over in research, journal articles, and newspapers, in the media and on the Internet.

In the Health for Animals journal article entitled The Importance of Pets, it is stated that “Pets are part of our everyday lives and part of our families. They provide us with companionship but also with emotional support, reduce our stress levels, sense of loneliness and help us to increase our social activities and add to a child’s self-esteem and positive emotional development. In return, as responsible pet owners we need to ensure that our animals are kept healthy, fit, get nutritious food, love and affection and proper housing and care.”

Many older adults no longer have children living at home. As a result, there is less of an opportunity for them to demonstrate the caregiving skills which are a basic human value. Pets fill the void left by children leaving and becoming more independent and less dependent on their parents. Pets become the children of many older adults and this is a healthy part of the aging process. Caregiving and the feeling of being needed are basic human qualities. As the number of 55 and older communities are developed there is the need to recognize and address this aspect of senior living and health.

Pets are companions, friends, loved ones and, most always, become an essential part of the family. We care for them; they care for us. They help older adults laugh and play, exercise and provide loving support for other living creatures. Additionally, as the age of adults increases, there are greater numbers of single adults living alone. Pets provide companionship to many single older adults. Pets require time and energy. They require responsible behavior and ownership. They provide their owners with something positive to do each day; they may even become the reason for some older adults to continue living. In communities that are predominantly older adults, pets are an essential element in the provision of well-being, health and happiness for owners and the community at large.

It is also essential that communities address the needs of pets and their owners. Everyone benefits when pets and their owners are healthy and happy. It could be stated that pets are the second heartbeat of a community and how a community addresses the needs of pets and their owners reflects the values of that community. Developments that serve the residential and recreational needs of senior adults must recognize the importance of pets and their owners in the community. If one of the goals of the community is to generate revenue for the developer of that community, they will find revenue levels are directly impacted in positive ways by the presence of pets and the related lifestyles of their owners.

Unfortunately, as adults age, their health and physical abilities are impacted, oftentimes, in challenging ways. This dichotomy of the increase in the number of pets amidst growing health challenges places an additional responsibility of communities serving older adults. Awareness of the needs of both the pets and owners in a community serving older adults is essential. For example, often older adults have greater challenges walking and exercising their pets thus creating a greater need for specific areas and services addressing those needs. The numbers of dog parks, for example, are increasing in both urban and rural areas with significant numbers of older adults. In many ways, this just makes cents. Think about it!

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Blog Post # 2, February 3, 2021

Why Donate to the Critters Club?

In case you are wondering, why I should donate money to the Critters Club, let us give you a few really good reasons.

First and foremost, we love our pets and want the best for them. Who, in our community, will be advocating for them and who will even care about them? It is the Critters Club.

In addition, the Critters Club is a family of caring pet owners who share similar values and priorities. We are not a social organization. We are not elitists or exclusionists. We care and we contribute to our community, our friends and, most of all, to our pets. They matter to us.

The Critters Club serves the community. We support and donate funds to community organizations. Our members are often found volunteering in a variety of non-profit organizations and businesses within our community.  We serve because we care!

The Critters Club manages the one place in our community that is designed for pets and pet owners. The Quail Creek Dog Park is an important place in the lives of our pets and pet owners. It is not an exclusive, private venue. It is open to any pet owner in the community. In reality, the dog park is an important amenity often used to promote the sales of new property as well as in the resale of existing property. It is a gathering place for friends both two legged, three legged and four legged. Do we not want the best for all users?

The question often surfaces: Who is in charge of the dog park? The answer is the POA which means the POA is responsible for the maintenance of the park. As managers of the park, who provides for the functional aspects of facility? The Critters Club addresses the comfort and safety. This requires the purchase of signage and seating and with the care and upkeep involved with the physical aspects and components of the dog park. We also manage a pet finding and locating service that calls for the purchase and replacement of expensive equipment such as pet chip readers.

Think about it, the Critters Club, one of the largest and oldest chartered clubs in the community has the lowest membership fee of all the clubs. In addition, this small fee has not increased in the fifteen years of the clubs existence.  

The Critters Club is the only voice in our community for the hundreds of those who have no voice, our pets.  It is so important that the club and its leaders be pet advocates and work within the organizational structures of the community and to interface with the political aspects of living in a community such as Quail Creek. It is an ongoing challenge that requires a lot of time and creativity.

Currently, at the start of our new year, the Critters Club has almost thirty members (not in the history of the club but in just the first month of 2021) who have donated funds to the club with an average of almost $50 per donor. This is a wonderful trend that we wish to maintain and expand. It feels good to give and to share with an organization that cares about the pets we care for in our lives.

Donations help us to create a stable and strong organization that is respected and recognized within the community at all times and in all places. Think about it. Please consider donating. And finally, thank you to Walter and Shirley Kuhl, long-time Quail Creek residents and Critters Club members, who recently donated $1000 to the critters of Quail Creek. One thousand barks and smiles!

Paul

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Blog Post #1, February 1, 2021

Hello out there to all critter lovers in Quail Creek!

This is the first post on the recently created Quail Creek Critters Club (CC) blog site. Welcome! I hope to include links to articles and videos, stories and poems, pictures and updated news about the club and its members.

Golly, there is so much to share; not sure where to start.

We are now into the second month of the new year for the QC CC and our focus in January was the 2020 Membership drive. This effort was extremely successful with the number of CC members increasing (in the month of January) by almost 100% over and above any previous year and month in our history. In February, we will be planning our 2021 agenda and program. Hopefully, we will be able to put the CORONA virus in the poop bag and get back to our real normal. 

I will start by first and foremost recognizing the huge number of our friends and CC members who volunteer for the CC and, more broadly, in the communities that surround us. There are literally over one hundred of the CC members who are volunteers working with our CC program and the pets and pet owners in both Quail Creek and Green Valley. 

I would first like to recognize Kristine Sudyka who is our new Webmaster. She was a great assistance to me in the creation of our new CC website.

I would now like to recognize our Honorary Members. These three individuals have worked tirelessly supporting the pets within our community and elsewhere for many years. They are Dick Jones, Mary Ellen Pruess and Kim Eisele, Director of the TALGV (The Animal League of Green Valley).

The CC Leadership Team helps to provide guidance and advice to the overall management of the CC Club. They assist the CC President with most all of the major decisions that affect the club. The members are Jerry Pinson, Robert Marshall, Paul Riggins, Al Olbeter, Karen Morey, Kay Allen, Gordon Johnson, Bill Oldread and Kristine Sudyka.

The CC Support Team is a large group, at least forty-one (41), of resident volunteers who have volunteered to support all CC events and activities. This team is growing all the time and the list of members is long. The members include Darrrell and Dawn Hewitt, Martin Homer, Frank and Shari Cerrone, Karen Hugus, Tom and Patti Ballowe, Kevin and Janet Allison, Craig Simpson, Kathy Cook, Bill Rotherd, Macy Galbreath, Sheri Dixon, Darlene Riggins, Joe Braun, Kathy Olbeter, Steve Steiger, Chris Pinson, Ginger Applegarth, Tom Allen, Rex and Tracy Leetham, Roberta Sue Scott, Bill Tucker, Susan Meeks, Jan King, Dave and Joella Austin, Dave Bareiss, Ed Kraft, Chuck and Ginny Shack, Dana Hill, Mark McNown, Ed Berry, John McCuskey, Rick O’Day, Bob Bero, Dan Doyle and Jim Perry. You are welcome to join us and assist with any activity we are sponsoring.

The number of CC Donors (to date) has increased in number significantly in just the first month of the new year. At the current time, there are twenty-nine (29) members who have donated in 2021. The amount of money donated averages about $50 per person. The Donors for the 2021 are Darrell and Dawn Hewitt, Paul and Darlene Riggins, Bill Tucker, Chuck and Barbara Barta, Kevin and Janet Allison, Jerry and Chris Pinson, Chris and Katie Hottell, Chaile Womack, Laura and Dick Reilly, Kay and Tom Allen, Craig and Kathy Simpson, Terry and Francis Jacobs, Ed and Char Berry, Mary Greer, Gerald Gardner, Steve and Patti Steiger, Joan Finn, Charles and Kareen Kell, William Rotherd and Macy Galbreth, Ed and Ginny Kraft, Lenny and Dusty Friedman, Mary Diamond and Tim Doyle, Keven and Linda von Felden, Rex and Tracy Leetham, Kelvin and Becky Kent, Ruth Rossi, Phil Noble and Walter and Shirley Kuhl who donated $1000 to the CC and put us all in the giving spirit. This is an amazing list of wonderful supporters of all the pets and pet owners of Quail Creek. Remember, this list has been created in the month of January, 2021 only and there is lots of time to help this list grow and grow! If I have left someone off the list or miss spelled a name or two, please let me know.

The number of CC New Members is growing regularly. So far, in January only there have been twenty-three (23) first time CC members. They are Dave and Judy Sypkens, Rich and Flossy O’Day, Dan and Andrea Jondal, Walter and Shirley Kuhl, Julie Sherwood, Roberta Sue Scott, Bill Tucker, Tom and Cynthia Gierada, Lina Godoy, Linda Robertson, Kim EIsele, Chuck and Ginny Stack, Dave and Marion Bareiss, Troy Thrall, Nancy Katzberg, Wilson and Marsha Prokosch, Diane Clark, Dave and Joella Austin, Pat Brady, Susan Meeks, Leon Synder, Trisha and John Tubbs, and they keep coming. Join the movement. Welcome!

And did you know that there are ten (10) CC members who are Volunteers at the TALGV? They are Kareen Kell, Rose Welliver, Kathy Thiel, John Nicholson, Roberta Sue Scott, Patty Kozma, Candy Allen, Sue Meeks, Kim Eisele and Mary Ellen Pruess. Other QC resident volunteers who may be joining the CC or considering renewing their CC membership are Nancy and Raymond Hebert, Tommy Reid, Carol Clifford, Elizabeth Heintz, Sandy Hedlund, Pete and Carmen Murphy and Carol Hansen. A huge thank you for supporting the pets who are looking for a forever home. Again, if I have left anyone off this list, please let me know.

It is obvious by the recognition of all these Quail Creek residents that the CC makes a huge difference in lives of many pets and pet owners. A heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to each and every one of you.

Personally, I am blown away at the large number of our members and residents who are so willing to be involved and contribute to the lives of all the pets and pet owners in QC.  I cannot wait until the CC can resume our normal active schedule of educational, social and service focused events and activities.   

In the meantime, take care and be well. Paul

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Pet Lovers Blog

This blog will feature regular posts (at least once a month). There will be different authors although it is the responsibility of the club President to either create a post or find a member or guest who will write to something of value and interest to the general membership. Topics will include those of an educational or historical or creative nature. Each blog post will be dated and retained as part of the body of the blog for an extended period of time.

We are in the process of updating the website to make it more interactive with you! If you have any feedback on what you think should be on the website, please email Paul at crittersclub@gmail.com

Thank you!

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