For Deborah

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Gibson Steely
Gibson Steely

“Don’t worry – I’ve gone to the vet and I’ll be right back”
“Hey it’s me – Gizzalou – I’m back and I’m a dufus for worrying everyone.”

The first quote? A note on Gizzy’s door when he was at the SPCA. The second quote? What was said on his return from the vet. The common denominator? Deborah Steely (better known to many as DJS). Gizzy had literally passed out in his crate and the animal care staff thought he was dying; Deborah knew I would be freaked out (I was about two weeks away from adopting him at that point), and left the note on his door. I can still hear her calling out as she walked him back into the dog area, and assuring me that he was fine.

This year, I’m walking in honor of DJS, the first member and the eternal president of Gizzy’s fan club. She was brilliant, practical, fair minded, clever, direct, funny, a Tar Heel, a Springsteen fan, a teacher, an animal lover, an elderdog advocate, and so many other things that won’t all fit here. As the first animal care lead assigned to work with volunteers “in the back,” she taught me so much about animal AND people behavior. For example, her seven-day rule, as explained to potential new adopters: “On day one, you will most likely wonder what you have done…on day two, your routines will be off, but this kid will be more settled than they were on the first day…and on day seven, you’ll have a new normal and day one will feel like it was a really long time ago.” It always served as a reminder that adopters weren’t bringing home a piece of furniture, but rather a living creature that needed time to adjust, just like the new owners did.

We lost Deborah this past fall. I’m not sure about the rainbow bridge, but I have to believe that she is somewhere, reunited with her beloved Gibson, and taking care of all of the lost souls (human and animal). Deborah could always make you feel like you were doing your best, even when the rest of the world was trying to convince you otherwise, and was your best cheerleader when the chips were down.  Fiercely dedicated to animals, she spent a good chunk of her time trying to help as many creatures as possible. That dedication allowed her to  save, support, and assist countless homeless pets, and Gizzy and I hope that you will consider making a donation to honor her, even if you never knew her. She was, quite simply, one of the best people I ever knew.




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