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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Post #14, June 13, 2021

How to Best Interact in and Use the Temporary

Shared Space at Our QC Dog Park

June thru August, 2021

When our pet owners and our numerous energetic dogs are placed into a confined small space there is a special dynamic that occurs. In order to keep it a safe and friendly environment for all of the users and their pets, the following Guidelines and Expectations should be respected.

  • Please avoid bringing in your dog on a leash.
  • Please try to avoid contributing to an overcrowded entry and/or exit. The corral area is a potential area for anxious and active dogs to interact in unappropriated ways. Dog emotions and feelings may include fear, protection and anxiety. Minimize issues by entering and exiting when there are no other dogs entering or leaving at the same time.
  • No treats please. All dogs love treats and competition or anger could potentially turn something intended to be caring into a situation involving aggressive behavior.
  • Minimize the use of toys and/or balls during crowded times. Competition for balls, for example, can result in aggressive behavior.
  • Puppies under four months old should not be brought into the dog park when there are many users and dogs.
  • Female dogs in heat should not be brought into the dog park at any time.
  • Male dogs who have not been fixed may well contribute to unwanted behaviors such as bullying, humping, biting or other physical acts of domination.
  • Dogs that demonstrate aggressive or temperamental behavior at times should be brought to the dog park at low or no use times.
  • Carry a leash with you at all times in case it is needed to control your pet.
  • If a dog fight breaks out, do not try to physically break it up as you, the owner or friend, may end up getting serious bites and scratches. Use the water and hoses in the area as the first attempt to break up a fight.
  • If you are concerned about the safety of your pet in the park during the crowded use times, try to walk your dog instead. You may want to consider low use times of the day.
  • Always be paying attention to your pet and always pick up your dog’s poop immediately.
  • Be friendly to all users. Make new friends. Welcome new visitors regardless of whether they are new residents, visitors or guests.
  • Please keep the chairs off the grass. The grass area is being stressed by the summer hear and increased dog use. If possible, sit on the outside of the pavers and on the gravel.
  • Relax, be attentive and enjoy all the dogs and residents who love our dogs.

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Post # 13, April 30, 2021

Tennis Anyone?

No thank you. I think I will pass.

Tennis Balls Can be Harmful

Just in the last week, here is what I have observed or heard about happening at our local dog parks:

  • A cute little dog became very sick and lethargic ultimately having her spleen removed. Valley Fever was the diagnosis.
  • Two dogs who have been long time friends got into fight over a tennis ball.
  • An owner gets bitten and has to go to the hospital trying to break up a dog fight involving a tennis ball.
  • Two labs got into a serious fight over a tennis ball.
  • A tennis ball being destroyed by a playful large Labrador.
  • A split open tennis ball remaining on the ground in an otherwise empty dog park.
  • A sick dog being diagnosed with Valley Fever which could cause death.
  • An owner finding pieces of a tennis ball in their dog’s poop.
  • Two owners get into an argument over whose ball belonged to whom.
  • A friendship destroyed because one person threw a tennis ball over the fence.

There are likely more things of this nature taking place involving a tennis ball at the dog park every day.

If you and your dog love to fetch tennis balls, here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Any of the above scenarios could happen to you. Most of them involve possible life threatening situations or at best a large vet bill.
  • Tennis balls are made of toxic materials including lead, dangerous paint chemicals and abrasive material we think is fuzz.
  • Tennis balls are meant to be hit and to be used to play the game of tennis.
  • Tennis balls that are swallowed in part or whole can result in serious choking or digestive issues.
  • When a tennis ball gets wet and slimy due to doggie slobber and saliva, it may carry dangerous bacteria. 
  • When a single tennis ball is used by more than one doggie, the potential for issues increases.
  • Dogs can become addicted or obsessive to certain behaviors just like humans can become.
  • Doggie teeth can be harmed by long term use of a tennis ball with abrasive fuzz.

Such a simple alternative:

  • Use colorful (for identification) dog friendly rubber balls that cannot be destroyed.
  • Wash off or dry off your ball after every toss and fetch; bring along a small towel.
  • Do not use a ball of any kind that you have no idea about its history or user(s).
  • Have fun and exercise your dog in regular, safe and active ways.
  • Always be thoughtful and friendly to your human fellow dog lovers.

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Post #12, April 15, 2021

I Once Was a Dog

I lived in a nice place

Lots of toys

Good music

Food galore

I would run and play

I would jump and chase

I was a happy pup

Then one day

I made a mistake

I was so happy

I wanted to be happier

I jumped the wall

And ran off looking for happier

I ran and ran

I dodged cars and trucks

I was just looking for happier

Instead someone grabbed me

They threw me in a cage

I could hardly lie down

No music; little food

Certainly no fun

I was sad and confused

No one seemed to want me

And then one day

Someone started talking to me

We have been looking for you

I did not know them

They seemed to like me

They pet me and scratched me

They took me away from my cage

They took me to a real home

I had playmates and scratches galore

I had beds and walks

I was happy again

I knew someone would love me

I knew someone would care

It was you

You are my loved ones

I am yours

Off we went along the path

To friends and chases

To my old life that was new

I came home

Ever been there?

 

April, 2021

 

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Post #11, April 7, 2021

Dog Park Etiquette

In the past three years I have visited the QC dog park literally every day. I have observed many things. I have many stories to tell. I have heard enough rumors to be a guest on the Conspiracy Theory network. I think I have seen it all in terms of dog and owner behavior. Most of what I have seen and experienced is full of smiles and good feelings. Unfortunately, not always are all dog park stories happy ones. In most every case, the ending to a dog park story depends on the owners of the dogs involved. To be honest, there are a few things that concern me. I do not wish to be critical nor judgmental in any way. As President of the Critters Club, I only wish to make things better for all of us who are users of the dog park or who might want to be users. I intend to post these guidelines on both entrance gates of the dog park.

 

So, here are some thoughts and reminders which should be part of everyday use and etiquette at our dog park:

  • Pick up after your pet and dispose of their waste in the trash cans provided. This is a dah!
  • Be friendly and welcoming. The dog park should be a friendly place for both pets and humans.
  • Bring in your dog on a leash to the corral area so as to not allow them to run freely off chasing a rabbit, coyote, prairie dog or Havilina or to be hit by a moving golf cart.
  • Once in the corral area (before the second gated entrance) unleash your pet. Leashes often result in protective behaviors and situations often causing aggressive behavior.
  • Keep an eye on your pet and not on your neighbor. The doggie time is not party/social time.
  • Be proactive and anticipate any issues that might result in a problem for your pet.
  • Welcome new dog park users or guests of our members.
  • Help keep the water bowls fresh and full.
  • Control your pet both verbally and, if needed, physically by leashing it and removing it.
  • Activity and play are normal aspects of being a dog and are normal behaviors at the dog park.
  • Puppies under the age of six months should not be brought into the dog park to prevent injuries.
  • Unneutered female dogs are not welcome in the dog park for obvious reasons.
  • Unfixed male dogs are discouraged from using the park when other dogs are present.
  • Protective behaviors are common for some breeds of dogs and owners. Be proactive.
  • Watch for shy dogs and those who might be afraid; help to create a friendly and safe environment.
  • Minimize ball play that may result in conflicts involving the ball.
  • Avoid tennis balls due to their felt covers that could carry kennel cough or diseases that could be passed on to other pets.
  • Snacks are discouraged at the park when other dogs are present due to the potential of conflict.
  • Avoid alcohol use or smoking in the park. If you must indulge, do it outside of the dog park area.
  • Humping and other dominate related behaviors are natural yet could result in conflicts.
  • Do not be physically abusive to any dog in the park.
  • Do not have you or your pet block the entrance to the dog park.
  • If a human or dog is injured, it may be time to call 911.
  • Do not keep your dog on a leash while using the park; it is asking for trouble.
  • If your dog is causing trouble, leash it up and remove it from the park for the time being.
  • If your dog has a tendency be a little aggressive or intimidating, try to visit the park during low use or no use hours.
  • Be respectful to all users, both human and dogs.
  • Make sure the gates to park are closed after you enter or leave the park.
  • If you have a problem at the dog park, report to it me ASAP.
  • If possible, vehicles are to use the paved parking lot in front of the administration office.

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Blog Post #10, April 4, 2021

Beware of the Wild Side

Are dogs and wolves related? We have always been told this. It does make sense. The answer is yes, of course. Our dogs are related to one of the oldest known four-legged animal called a Wolf. However, how closely are our dogs still related to the wolf tens of thousands of years later?  The fact is, wolves and dogs share all but a third of one per cent of their DNA. Therefore, they are totally related. Remember that!

So, please note all dog owners: your dog is genetically related closely to a wolf. What does this fact mean for you in today’s world? It means pay attention; your dog is a wild animal that has been domesticated to become one of our most beloved possessions and companions. In all ways, this is a significant relationship as expressed in dog to dog relationships and dog to human relationships.

Alexandra Horowitz is a professor of Psychology at Barnard College of Columbia University. She is a PhD studying dog behavior. She is a cognitive scientist who in her book Inside of a Dog seeks to explain a dog’s perceptual and cognitive abilities. She attempts to show the reader what it might be like to be a dog. For a dog owner, it is a must read. I found it to be insightful, helpful and informative.

She writes about the connection between a wolf and a dog and how it pervades the daily lives of our pets and our interaction with them. She makes being a dog owner come alive in terms of this “wild” connection. She tells the reader, “Once in a while it feels as if some renegade ancient gene takes a hold of the domesticated product… our sweet little pet. A dog bites his/her owner, kills the family cat or attacks a neighbor or a neighbor’s dog. Can this be our beloved pet? This unpredictable, wild side of dogs should be acknowledged. The species have been bred for millennia, but has evolved for millions of years before that without us.”

I guess this means BEWARE OF THE WILD SIDE. It is present. It surfaces, in different situations at different times for different reasons. I am not making excuses for unacceptable dog behavior. It just is a part of the species. They are wired to act/react before contemplating action. They have the urge to protect themselves, their families and their territory. And, we cannot predict when they will be prompted to be protective. They do not think like us. As a caring and loving dog owner, It is important to be able to think like them. Pay attention to specific situations; anticipate potential problems or challenges for our dogs, especially in certain situations. You see living with a dog is a long process of becoming mutually familiar. Dog bites are situationally specific. A dog bites out of fear, out of frustration, out of pain and out of anxiety in order protect themselves or their families. A dog can read (feel, smell, and sense) the anxiety and fear of their owner and react accordingly. Dogs are very keen observers. They can sense (smell) fear coming from another dog or their owners. Remember that!

So, if you happen be present when your dog barks or aggressively snaps realize that this alarm is different than just exploratory mouthing or mounting; a play bite is different than a grooming nibble. We cannot read what they are interpreting; it is coming from a totally different part of their brain. Again, remember that because when we sense alarm or no alarm our dogs we may be sensing something completely the opposite. Anticipate and react calmly. If the wolf gene kicks in, intervene safely.

Dr. Horowitz’s research has shown that despite their sometime wildness, dogs never revert to being a wolf. Dogs and humans have bonded. A dog needs and desire the company of its human owner(s). So, dog lovers sit back and enjoy the ride, it is so worth it. However, be responsible; anticipate challenges in your dog’s environment. Be forgiving; be understanding; be present and, most of all BE LOVING. And remember, there is one way we all are alike, both dog and humans, we all make mistakes.

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Blog Post #9, March 29, 2021

Aggressive Behavior between Dogs at the Dog Park

By Mike Herstik with comments by Paul Riggins, PhD

For those of us who frequent parks, we are not unfamiliar with dogfights. The aggression that we witness can occur between two dogs that have never seen each other or between two dogs that have had prior contact.

The reasons why dogs become aggressive at parks are due to dominance and prey aggression. Both types of aggressive behavior can easily get out of control. Correcting the aggressive dog (at the appropriate time) can prevent a disaster from occurring.

Dominance aggression is very common and is usually seen in non-neutered male dogs or dogs approaching puberty. Since dogs are pack animals and packs need leaders, it is not uncommon for a dog to assert himself. A hierarchy of individuals is formed as pack members challenge each other for positions of authority. Though this kind of aggression does occur among females, it is most prevalent among unaltered mature males or those approaching maturity.

One of the ways that a dog asserts its dominance is to assume a physically superior position over a subordinate. Mounting is the most obvious dominant position. Many owners mistake mounting for sexual behavior. Unless the animal being mounted is a female in heat, the mounting is probably a display of dominance. Some owners find this behavior humorous. By tolerating it, the behavior is encouraged. The dog views this as confirmation of its dominant status.

Dogs do commonly warn each other off with snaps or growls. These gestures are not intended as combat, especially when females react toward males. Although most of the time dogs usually work out hierarchy without resorting to actual physical combat, owners do need to recognize situations that can lead to disaster. Certain challenging postures (such as standing very erect, holding the head over another’s back, direct staring eye contact and mounting) need to be corrected immediately by the owner.

If these postures continue to persist, owners should keep an eye out to make sure that a fight is not ready to erupt. Make clear to your dog that this behavior is not desired. Remember that gentle crooning does not dissuade undesirable behavior, but rather encourages it. Keep in mind that once dogs learn to fight they may form a pattern that is sometimes difficult to unlearn.

Prey aggression takes a form that is often misunderstood by pet owners and even professional obedience trainers. Prey aggression is not actually dog fighting, but is rather the psychological drive inherent in some dogs to chase, capture and seize prey. It generally occurs between medium and larger size dogs that show an exceptional fascination with smaller, weaker dogs.

The scenario often starts with the larger dog playing roughly with, or chasing the smaller dog. If the smaller dog begins to exhibit fear, this may stimulate the prey drive in the larger dog, causing him to play even more roughly. At this point, the larger dog should be controlled, otherwise the situation can get out of hand. The smaller dog or puppy may scream, and it is not rare for a larger dog to become so stimulated that it will grasp the smaller dog in a “killing” prey grip.

The specific actions described here in both dominance and prey aggression can vary, though most aggressive situations that occur in a place like a dog park generally fall into one of the two categories.

If your dog does get into a fight, try to remain calm and use whatever measured force is necessary to break it up. Be careful: breaking up dogfights can be dangerous. Consider your own safety first. In most cases, injuries sustained by intervening owners are far worse than the dogs suffer. Avoid reacting hysterically and screaming at the dogs and the other people. This just serves to add fuel to the fire. Do not insert a hand or foot between the two rival dogs because their natural reaction may be to redirect the attack to you.

Most dogfights occur between dogs that are owned by nice people who don’t intend for their dogs to get into a fight. But you should know that ultimately you are responsible for your dog’s actions. Dogs may be our best friends, but their thought process differs from ours. Understand your dog as a dog. It doesn’t mean you have to love him any less.

Mike Herstik (International K-9), is a consultant to law enforcement, military and government agencies. A professional dog trainer for more than 20 years, Herstik is the dog trainer for the LAPD Bomb Squad. The comments below have been made by Paul Riggins, President of the Quail Creek Critters Club in Green Valley, Arizona.

Comments: I have visited dog parks every day for the past two and a half years. I have observed many situations involving aggressive dogs. Fortunately, it is the exception rather than the rule. However, it does happen. No one, especially the dog owners, wish to see it happen. And, almost every time it does, the owners will blame the “other” dog or owners involved. Both dogs and owners can be injured. It is never a pretty or desirable sight. We love our dogs and never want them to be involved in a negative situation where they, another dog or human being is injured.

Here are a few observations that could help to resolve or minimize unwanted aggressive situations:

  • If your dog is aggressive (and you most likely know it), visit the dog park at the lowest use (preferably non-used) times of the day.
  • Hire a professional trainer to address the aggressive tendencies of your dog.
  • Do not visit the dog park at all; walk your dog instead and, if needed, pick up after them.
  • As a last resort is to surrender them to a dog shelter or a specific dog breed rescue service. Try to avoid having them “put down”.
  • Remember, the dog owner is always liable and responsible. If animal control officers get involved, your dog will likely be taken away from you and placed into quarantine for several weeks. You may have to appear before a judge and required to pay a fine.
  • It is the dog owner’s responsibility to always have their dog(s) licensed and current with all required shots.
  • Resist having your dog enter an enclosed space on a leash. This is a common problem that result in aggressive behavior and dog fights.
  • Dogs experience fear. Dogs smell fear. Aggressive dogs may be over reactive and protective. This is a recipe for aggressive situations. Remove the leash and take with you; have it ready to use at the first sign of trouble. Not all dogs get along with some other dogs (for many reasons) so if danger signs are evident, remove your dog immediately.
  • Be respectful when entering or leaving the dog park, especially in congested gate areas. Give space, take turns, and keep your dog under control.
  • Dogs in heat, especially female dogs, should not be taken into a dog park. It almost always results in some kind of a dominance situation which, most likely, will result in a fight or disagreement.
  • Puppies under the age of six months, should not be brought into an intimidating environment with many other larger dogs. If possible, bring them to the dog park at low use or no use times. Again, refrain from using a leash. If an owner is anxious every dog in the park will sense it and dominance issues will arise.
  • Balls are discouraged in the dog park mainly because chasing them can result in fights to control the ball or in a struggle to “one” it. Frisbees are preferred. Again, if chasing a ball is a priority, come to the park when there are few dogs present. Dogs will chase each other naturally and play naturally. Let them be dogs.
  • Advocate for dog parks that have “training” area that are designated for one dog at a time; where an owner can monitor and/or reinforce positive behaviors. Anxious dogs do not want to be challenged, intimidated or dominated. If your dog is both anxious and aggressive, you will have your hands full and your dog may never do well at the dog park.
  • Finally, be respectful; be responsible; be friendly and be a positive role model. After all, ours dogs are a lot like our children.

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Blog Post #8, March 15, 2021

Progress Made and Accomplishments of the

Critters Club Leadership Team

1/1/20 through 3/15/21

As members of the CC Leadership Team it would be helpful to keep in mind the following accomplishments that you have helped to provide ( in just 15 total months) to the pet owners and pets of Quail Creek:

  • A strong base of fifty (50) leaders and volunteers who are club members.
  • The largest membership total (192) in the history of the club in 2020.
  • A repeat of a strong membership (170) so far in 2021 with nine months remaining.
  • Doubled the size of our CC bank accounts in just one year.
  • In one year matched the amount in our bank account from the previous seven years.
  • Increased the number of club donors by four times the highest number ever (37 in 2021) and involved more members than the previous seven years combined.
  • Received almost $2000 in donations in the first three months of 2021.
  • Encouraging an average of almost $50 per donation in the first three months of 2021.
  • Supported and encouraged 35 new members (20% of the total #) so far in 2021.
  • Receiving twenty (20) times as many donated dollars than ever before.
  • Have 136 members who are renewing members (80% 2020 to 2021) in spite of relocations, health issues, deaths, divorces, loss of pets and the virus.
  • Maintained the strength and influence of the club in the time of a pandemic with without offering a normal program.
  • Encouraged 70% of the original legacy 2012-2014 CC members to renew their memberships in spite of relocations, health issues, deaths, divorces, loss of pets and the virus. These are the CC elders who created and built the club through the years.
  • Created a new, functional and fun website.
  • Maintained an active and loyal Leadership Team for the past 15 challenging months.
  • Involve over 500 resident pet owners and pets in the club membership.
  • Include twice as many cat owners as ever before.
  • Have over fifteen members who volunteer at TALGV.
  • Engaged the property administration, POA and RCI with CC concerns regarding planning, maintenance, operation and policy in hundreds of emails, phone calls, letters and texts.
  • Have members serving in important roles in the community.

All things considered, this is an amazing list that all of us on the Critters Club Leadership Team should be very proud of and inspire us to keep advocating and speaking up for those we love and who have no voice. Our pets do matter! Remember, we do make a difference for our members, residents and pets and the community as a whole.

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Blog Post #7, February 21, 2021

The Tail of the Happy Dale Puppy Farm

One day while out driving in the country,

I passed a small sign sitting under a tree.

I decided to stop, back up and take a look.

It read, “This way to the Happy Dale Puppy Farm”

And it had an arrow pointing at me.

I was confused; I was intrigued; it was an old sign.

I liked mysteries and searches.

 

Admittedly, it was a cute name.

I wondered where it was actually located.

I wondered what went on at a puppy farm.

I imagined white picket fences and lots of puppies.

I loved puppies; I liked happy.

Kind of a perfect sounding place.

Since it had been around awhile, I really wanted to find it.

I was so curious and still a little confused.

 

So, I asked around in the area.

No one knew anything about it.

Some got it confused with the “Happy Day Nursery School”

Others thought they had heard something about it.

But not on TV; not in the newspapers or in magazines.

It certainly did not advertise.

I tried to Google it and came up empty.

How often does that happen?

 

I just had to go back to find the tree and the sign.

A few months later, I returned on a sunny Sunday.

I got lucky because the area was full of parked cars.

I thought, “This must be the place.”

I could not find a parking spot anywhere nearby.

So, I had a long walk to this mysterious place.

Funny thing, along the way, I never saw a living soul.

The mystery deepened; my intrigue grew.

 

The farm must certainly not be selling anything.

It must be giving puppies away.

There must be a secret entrance;

A special password or code.

I must have driven or walked right by it many times in days gone by.

I wanted to get on their mailing list.

I wanted to join the club.

Maybe then, I could find it and get my puppy.

 

I did feel lost and a little left out.

But, I do not give up easily.

For years, I searched and inquired.

For years, I only found empty parked cars.

The sign remained as well.

Then one day, it hit me.

I realized my searching had been in vain.

Yet, I still wanted a puppy of my own.

 

I thought, just maybe, I already have a puppy.

And the puppy farm lives inside of me.

I was looking out there;

When it was hidden within me.

I thought, maybe the farm is not a farm;

Maybe, the search is about new rather than old.

Maybe, life is full of puppies and happy.

 

And sure enough, once I realized all this.

I found the way to the Happy Dale Puppy Farm.

I returned to the tree one Sunday.

I parked my car and sat, waited, watched and reflected.

I was happy and there were puppies everywhere.

I just had failed to recognize the Reality.

The Happy Dale Puppy Farm is here and there and where

I am going; you are going and we are going.

  

There is no need for marketing nor advertising.

No need for smart phones or computers.

All I needed to do was to show up.

Just be the puppy that I am.

Just love everyone, cuddle and lick.

Just trust, be patient and loyal.

An occasional mess is OK.

And yes, the Happy Dale Puppy Farm is our home.

 

So, my sisters and brothers

Be the puppy that you are

Share the love, the scratches and pets.

Show others how to be the puppy

That lives within us all.

Create puppy piles everywhere.

It is our destiny; it is the new view

Bring the Happy Dale Puppy Farm to life in your lifetime.

 

 

Written by Paul Riggins

June, 2015

 

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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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