Her Passion For Dogs Has Rescued Nearly 12,000 Animals

I love hearing about how people with a passion are making a real difference. When I was at the SPCA Fur Ball, I learned of one woman…Christina Hamberg.

Each year the SPCA Cincinnati presents its P.B. Johnston Humane Care Award to an outstanding member of the community for his or her dedication to animal welfare. Christina was that member this year.

Her  first contact with the SPCA was in the 1990s when she volunteered to walk dogs. But she didn’t just walk any dog, Christina sought out those who had been at the shelter the longest. And, when she was there, she took note of the litters of puppies in need of love and began outreach to find foster homes.

Sheltered Paws Dog Rescue

Christina’s passion led to starting a non-profit of her own, Sheltered Paws Dog Rescue, to save shelter dogs requiring temporary foster home and then place those dogs in permanent homes; and to partner with the SPCA Cincinnati to promote the place of their dogs with disabilities. Over the last 15 years, her rescue has fostered and helped nearly 12,000 animals.

Sheltered Paws Mission: To develop trust and love with a dog that needs to be reminded that many humans can and will take good, loving care of it for the rest of its lives. To then find loving homes for these previously abused, abandoned, sick, neglected and confused dogs. To give the dog a solid re-start with behavior, health, and trust. To spay/neuter our rescued dogs of age to stop the cycle of unwanted litters.


Solving Problem Parrot Chewing With Enrichment

(a Hyde Park Living column written a number of years ago when my dear Chester was still with us)

In the days before Barnaby joined our flock, there was just Chester, Dreyfuss and me living together in a large two bedroom apartment. It actually was a wonderful place with many of tips for solving parrot behavior problemsthe rooms being larger than those in my house and the large sliding glass window in the dining room made for a scenic view of the woods in the back. Pink floor length curtains hung from its side with a hand made valence (made by me) stretching across the top.

Chester and Dreyfuss stayed in the dining room, their cages arranged on a wall at either end of the table.

It made for some interesting meetings (I work from my home) and dinners with the family. Whoever thought only dogs begged for food has certainly never met my guys!

That was long before I had ever heard of behavioral analysis, and creating an enriching environment, well, that meant putting some acrylic toys in their cages, right??? I got them at the pet store, and they were labeled ‘bird toys’ after all.

I did a lot of things differently back then, and, as a result, so did the guys. Take for example those flowing, opaque pink curtains that were no longer transparent to the sun’s afternoon rays by the time I bought a house. If you’re ever looking for an awesome playgym for your parrot, I’ve got a suggestion. To Chester, they were the greatest thing next to safflower seeds. He’d slide down his cage stand, waddle across the floor and climb to his heart’s content. Up, down, right, left. If he was on the outer edge, he could swing it around so that only his head would stick out. And, if I didn’t find him while he was playing monkey on the curtains, he’d make it all the way up to the valence. I can’t tell you how many times I’d walk out to find him hanging upside down. When he’d see me, he’d tilt his head up as if to say ‘look mom, look at me!’

I was so frustrated because I couldn’t stop him, but at the same time, if you’ve ever seen an Alexandrine hanging upside down with such a comical look about him, you can’t help but laugh. It’s just so funny.

Then there was the time when I was on the telephone in a back bedroom and suddenly I heard C*R*U*N*C*H. That was the sound of a dining room chair being disassembled by a beak that didn’t have anything better to chew on. <sigh>

Needless to say, I was determined when we moved, that history was NOT going to repeat itself. And thankfully now, I have the knowledge to prevent it. (at least so far – and it’s been nine years)

It’s easy to look back on the situation now and see how Chester’s environment wasn’t setting him up for success, at least success through my eyes.

With a behavioral analysis hat on, let’s look at his curtain climbing antics.

Background: Chester is activity and Lisa deprived.

Antecedent: curtains were in view

Behavior: Chester waddled over and climbed the curtains

Consequence: sensory feedback – stimulation from his having to use his beak and feet activity – he was busy and engage; social – if I came out, he’d get my attention

Probable Future Behavior:  When Chester is activity and Lisa deprived, he’ll continue to climb the curtains

So, what have I done differently to set him up for success?

Well, honestly, I really just needed to do some antecedent changes to prevent him from destroying things here and it has solved our problem. I have created a much more enriching environment.  I even keep their cage doors open while I’m working in my basement and the only reason Chester will come off his cage is if something scares him. But I’m prepared for that too.

Chester, and all of my birds, have a lot to do during the day to keep them busy. I spend hours each week making strands of knotted hemp and beads that I hang all over the inside and outside of their cages. I wrap almonds in cloth or a box or paper cup for Chester and Dreyfuss. I have portions of a phone book wrapped in string on the cage floor of Chester’s cage and hanging toys for Barnaby, my Timneh Grey, to hang from.

The list goes on but you get the picture. They are busy if they want to be, and if they want to nap, that’s fine too.

But in the instance that Chester should come to the ground (and now I put him there too when I’m cleaning cages or watching tv), I’ve made some play stations for him. I got a mirrored toy from a human baby store and he can spend hours with it, so much so that I got a second one for the television room. (Scattering some beads or resting a tub of activity items next to it makes it even more reinforcing.) I bought a cheap   plastic round snow sled and placed an Orbit play gym on top, tying strands of beads to it. This is also in the television room, next to the mirror toy. Chester receives such positive sensory and activity reinforcement for playing with these toys that there’s no reason for him to search out a dining room chair or curtain.

And I’d much rather laugh at him rolling his mirror toy around than hanging from my hand made valence any day!


Can I be of further help to you and your pet? Please contact me!






Barnaby’s Family Scrapbook

I had forgotten that we had done this years ago. Barnaby, my Timneh African Grey, worked with me in creating this about his family. At the time Chester was still with us. It’s fun so I thought I’d reshare. You may have to click on the arrow to advance to the next screen if it doesn’t automatically load.

Livy Lu Found Her Forever Home

This past weekend was a very special event. Shelters and rescue groups from throughout the Tri-State joined forces to find forever homes for over 1800 dogs, cats, rabbits and even rodents. Bringing an animal into your home is such a wonderful gift and even more so when you are offering your heart to another living being who has somehow been let down by life in its past.

It is one thing to adopt an adorable puppy still so filled with rambunctious happiness, but so often the adult dogs who just aren’t as cute are the ones who face the most uncertain future. And for the ones who, by no fault of their own, have the most baggage by humans who failed them…well, they will be lucky if they find themselves with a kind foster parent or in a caring no-kill shelter.

Livy Lou Was One Of The Lucky Ones

A little terrier mix with a long white beard, bushy eyebrows and ears that flop over, Olivia (better known as Livy Lou) was 15 pounds of sheer terror when the Strubbes came by the shelter where Livy Lou had been spending her days. She was caged with large dogs – many at least double her weight – who didn’t understand the magnitude of their size or the concept of leaving a frightened animal alone. There really wasn’t enough space for that distance anyway.

The year was 2004. Sharon and David Strubbe had just become empty nesters and their house was getting awfully lonely without their long companion, a beautiful Samoyed who died just weeks earlier.

So, the couple visited the SCPA. “I didn’t want another big dog,” Sharon said…each time they left. They went back three times and each time she walked out crying because she didn’t see what she wanted but she hated leaving behind so many dogs that each had a need for love.

Their fourth attempt to find a new friend was at the League For Animal Welfare. “Is this one still here?,” Sharon asked of the dog in the picture. “Well, you had better meet her,” was the staff person’s response.

It turns out Livy Lu was all set to be adopted the week earlier. That is until she snapped and bit the woman’s ankle as she was paying the fee.

But that didn’t bother Sharon. If anything, it made her more determined. Sharon was going to win over Livy Lu’s heart and she wasn’t going to leave until she did it. After thirty minutes, Livy Lu still wouldn’t come close. She only barked and growled.

The rest of the story is what tells me what a huge heart Sharon and David have and makes me so grateful to know there are people in this world just like them.

A Heart Opened

They were brought into an enclosed room – Sharon, David and a little ferocious beast who took guard of the corner. Time went by. Finally Livy Lu took a step forward, wagged her tail, and returned to the only place in that space that seemed safe at the time. “I just had to have her,” Sharon said. “I wasn’t going to give up.”

Livy-LuAnd neither was Livy Lu. Sharon and David patiently kept their distance, allowing this dog who until then had no reason to trust anyone, to somehow find the strength to have courage enough to try. That’s when magic happened. Livy Lu took a leap and landed on Sharon’s lap.

“She’s coming home with us,” Sharon told her husband.

They have been together ever since. Livy Lu is about 15 years old now and is deaf. Lucky for her, the most important language of life – the language of love, needs no words.

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