Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Weekly Review of Smiles and Tears

Life at a sanctuary, as you may know, is filled with ups and downs, laughter and tears...

We started the week with our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner!  Our staff and volunteers enjoyed a wonderful evening of fellowship, great food, entertainment, and awards!  This year's receipient of Volunteer of the Year went to... (click HERE to read more).

Tuesday's posting was all about our Summer Splash event!  Have you ever seen an exotic cat play with watermelon before?  No?  Well, here's your chance -- click HERE to watch our Summer Splash video!

Wednesday, we posted our long anticipated In-Sync Exotics' video, titled "Our Story," to this blog and our Youtube Channel.  Watch this amazing video depicting our early beginnings, where we are at today, and what you can do to help us continue our mission! Go HERE to see our wonderful new video!

Yesterday, we answered a reader's question regarding the significance of the colored t-shirts!  To learn what the green, gold, grey, black, and blue t-shirts represents, click HERE!

We end the week on a very sad note.  The following was posted on our Facebook page yesterday morning:  

May 15, 2003 - July 25, 2012
We lost our beautiful Jasi yesterday. When he came to live with us almost 2 years ago, we knew that he had a heart condition, but we had been able to manage it with medication. However, yesterday his heart just didn't want to do it's job anymore. We raced him to our vet, and who then accompanied Vicky to a heart specialist in a nearby town, but there was nothing they could do. Jasi had a hole in his heart, and his heart valves were not working properly. They tried everything, but we lost our beautiful, friendly, curious and affectionate boy. We are all completely heartbroken.

Our precious Jasi will always be remembered as a little clown who loved to splash around in his tub or play with the spray from the water hose when we cleaned his enclosure! His fascination with his enrichment items always put smiles on our faces. He also loved to play with his cage mate,  Nefertiti-- please keep our precious Neffie in your prayers as she is now living alone, without her little buddy.

A final look and Jasi and Neffie together

Jasi's urn

Jasi may be gone, but he will always reside in our hearts.  Godspeed, Jasi--we were blessed to have known you...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Does the Color Mean?

You may have noticed that our several different colored t-shirts worn by folks working or volunteering at our sanctuary.  Recently, we were asked what do the t-shirt colors signify, if they do signify anything at all.

Actually, the color of our shirts represents the make-up of our organization.  For instance, the green shirt worn by a volunteer means he or she completed our 3-month training program and is able to be certified to clean enclosures unsupervised, as well as learn other duties such as feeding, enrichment and training. (Volunteer)

Our gold shirt means our volunteers have been volunteering regularly with us for at least one year. (Senior Volunteer)

Our grey shirts are worn by volunteers who are certified on every enclosure at the sanctuary, and can help with all duties.  (Chief Volunteer)

Our black shirts are worn by our paid employees and the blue shirts are worn by our board members.

There are many ways our volunteers help, including, but not limited to:

Cleaning animal enclosures
Cleaning bowls and buckets
Preparing animal diets
Working in our Visitor Center (Sat/Sun only)
Helping with special events
Fund raising / office work
Building new enclosures
Landscaping projects

Once volunteers gain some experience and complete our  three month training program, he or she can also learn to help with giving tours to visitors, feeding and training cats (our cats are trained to follow simple commands that assist us in their medical treatments), as well as help with our enrichment program.

It is important to point out that much of the work involved in running an animal sanctuary does not directly involve animal-care.  Our volunteers are also asked to help with non-animal chores that are necessary to keep the sanctuary running smoothly.

For animal-care volunteers, we do require a minimum commitment of three days per month.  This ensures consistency among our volunteers and allows for adequate training.  Our animals need people they can get to know, trust and count on.

Volunteers unable to commit three days per month, are asked to help us out in the Visitor Center, giving tours, special events, construction, landscaping and other projects, rather than animal-care.  

If you are interested in volunteering, you should know that our days start by 9:30am, and we are normally wrapping up the work for the day by 4pm, seven days a week!  Many volunteers can only come out half days—and that’s okay!  We are grateful for the time our volunteers put into helping our animals.

We encourage you to visit the sanctuary as a regular visitor before scheduling a volunteer interview (we are open to the public during the summer from Thursday - Sunday, 11am-6pm).  This will allow you to see the operation and to see some of our volunteers at work, which will help you decide if volunteering at our sanctuary is something you would like to do.

Once you have visited the sanctuary, please contact Chemyn Reaney to schedule an interview.  Our interview process will help determine if there is a good match between your skills and interests, and our needs, and will also allow you the opportunity to ask questions you may have about our volunteer program.

If you are accepted into the volunteer program, and choose to become part of our team, you will then be scheduled for a new volunteer orientation! 

After orientation, you will be scheduled to begin one-on-one training with a Senior Volunteer (gold shirt!).

It is important remember our cats, while sometimes very affectionate, are dangerous predators, so safety precautions and guidelines are strictly enforced rules for all volunteers!

One of the programs our green shirts can participate in is our Cat Companionship Program.  Since our cats depend on their human caregivers to meet their needs, it's important that we establish a bond of mutual trust and respect. Our cat companion team builds this bond by sitting and talking with the cats outside the enclosures with the cats being the primary focus. Sometimes cat companions read or play soft music to their cat as a way to make the cat more comfortable and relaxed.  No work, training, medical procedures, etc. are allowed during companion sessions. There is no physical contact between our cat companions and our animals.

It is amazing how well our animals respond to their companions.  Some cats arrive scared and unsure of their surroundings.  A cat companion helps put the cat at ease by spending quality time with the animal.  Sometimes that means just sitting in visual range of the scared cat and not saying a word at all—thereby allowing the animal to adjust to its new home in his or her own time. Our cat companions are also in the position of observing and reporting to staff any unusual behaviors demonstrated by their cat.  Our Cat Companionship Program is a cornerstone to the success of our animal care program.

Want to learn more about our Volunteer Program?  Simply click HERE for more information!  We look forward to seeing you at our next orientation class!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Our Story"

The long anticipated In-Sync Exotics’ full length video titled “Our Story” is now available on our YouTube Channel!  Watch this incredible video about our early beginnings and where we are at today, plus see how you can help change the lives of our very special exotic cats and Nugget!

Our full length video is about 14:31 minutes long, but we promise, you’ll be riveted to your screen, that you won’t even noticed how fast time flys by as you watch our new video. 

If you are pressed for time, you can watch our shorter version of “Our Story,” which is about 5:05 minutes long.

Both the full and shorter video versions can be seen below!  So, sit back, relax (maybe have a couple of tissues handy, just in case) and enjoy “Our Story.”

("Our Story" - shorter version)

"Our Story" was produced, directed, photographed and edited by Barry Stevenson.  We'd like to thank Barry for creating this beautiful video for us!  He really did a terrific job and we appreciate all the time and effort he put into "Our Story"!  Thank you, Barry!  

If you love our videos, please subscribe to our In-Sync Exotics’ Channel!  You can go directly to our Channel by clicking HERE or by clicking on the tab located at the top of this blog page.  By becoming a subscriber, you will automatically receive our latest video sent directly to your email account!

It goes without saying, if you like our new video, please comment on our Facebook page, this blog, and on our video page (via the In-Sync Exotics Channel), so our readers and viewers will know what you thought of “Our Story.”  Remember, sharing is caring, so please forward “Our Story” blog posting to your family, friends, and co-workers!  Oh, and don't forget to hit one of the reaction buttons below!  Thank you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Splash!

What do you get when you mix exotic cats and watermelon?  Lots of messy fun!  See for yourself!

A huge thank you to all our visitors and volunteers who came out on a hot summer's day (99-100 degrees) to watch our cats have a great time with their watermelons!

We'd also like to thank Miss Texas Junior Teen, Shelby Feil, and our State Ambassador, Haley Dinsdale, for providing great information about In-Sync Exotics to our visitors!

The ladies helped us out at the information booth!

Shelby (left) and Haley (right)

Shelby, Haley, and one happy little boy!

Thank you ladies for doing a terrific job!  

We hope you enjoyed today's blog posting of our Summer Splash event.  We'd love to hear from you, so feel free comment and don't forget to click on one of the reaction buttons below. And as always, don't forget to share your favorite blog postings with family and friends! Thank you!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Dedication Above and Beyond the Call...

In-Sync Exotics sure knows have to have a great time on a hot Friday night! Normally, Friday night means feeding our exotic cats and Nugget, nutritionally species-specific meals, but last Friday night was special--it was our Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner!

Chemyn Reaney, Board Director and Volunteer Coordinator, described our family get-together for our blog readers--enjoy! 
We had a great time at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner Friday night!  We were a little concerned about the weather, because in the late afternoon a storm blew in out of nowhere and dumped a bit of rain, but the ground has been so dry recently, it was all dried up in time for dinner!
When we all arrived, Vicky and Eddie's yard was filled with beautifully set tables, complete with flower centerpieces.  Everyone spent some time greeting and visiting with each other, and then Vicky announced that the food was ready - the resulting stampede reminded me of the cats on bone night!  
Once we were all seated and devouring the wonderful food like a horde of cheerful locusts (and trying to ignore the abject pleading in Katie's eyes as she went begging from table to table), Vicky stood up and thanked everyone for all that they do for the cats.  She gave out anniversary awards to everyone who had been with us for at least a year - each person got a key chain with a beautiful picture of his or her favorite cat (or coati) on one side, and their name and years of service on the other.  
Vicky announced our Volunteer of the Year - Judy Chapla, who works so hard in the commissary, and helps out in so many other areas as well!  Vicky also thanked the people who spent so many hours of extra time at the sanctuary while Vicky and Eddie were on vacation last month - Ken, Lakshmi, Stephen, Marvin, Christina, Justin, Mak and Andrea.  
She added that since everyone did such a great job taking care of everything in her absence, she was much more comfortable planning another vacation soon (loud groans accompanied this pronouncement!).   
Vicky asked each board member and staff member to stand up and introduce ourselves, so after giving her a look of profound betrayal, we each stood up, explained our roles, and had a chance to thank everyone who helps us.  Even Eddie, typically a man of many talents but few words, said a heart-felt thanks for all our hard work!  Thanks Eddie!
We were then all treated to a viewing of our new promotional video, which was absolutely beautiful!  The video was punctuated by enthusiastic singing from our lions, who are always willing to lend their efforts to further the festivities, but we managed to hear most of it anyway and everyone agreed that the new video is awesome! 
(We will be uploading the final version of our new video to our YouTube Channel very soon.  In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our short teaser version seen at the bottom of this posting.)

It's always such a treat to be able to spend time chatting with folks who we usually only see in passing, as we rush from chore to chore at the sanctuary.  It's also nice seeing people well-dressed (meaning, nothing has holes in it or is liberally covered in muck or other filth).
I just want to thank all our hard working volunteers and interns for the love and dedication they show for our animals.  We are a great family--the In-Sync Exotics family--coming together for a great cause.  Enough said - now it' time for the family photos and video!

Aren't we a great looking bunch?

Coming together for a great cause...

Sharing funny family stories...

And recognizing those folks who go above and beyond the call of duty...

Surprise, Judy!

Congratulations Judy Chapla-- Volunteer of the Year 2012

Hello Interns!

One of many dedicated volunteers accepting a
personalized anniversary key chain!

Puttin' on a skit! 

And now, it's time for our home movie...brought to you by...our Interns!

Plus our teaser video - In-Sync Exotics:  Our Story 

We hope you enjoyed today's blog posting!  Would you like to join Team In-Sync and make a difference in the life of an animal or two?  To learn more about our volunteer and internship program, click HERE!

So what did you think of our teaser video?  We'd love to hear from you, so feel free comment and don't forget to click on one of the reaction buttons below. And as always, don't forget to share your favorite blog postings with family and friends! Thank you!