Oreo was born on Nantucket in 2005, and spent his life in the Crooked Lane area of the island. Born with a kidney defect, Oreo was not a candidate for adoption and was therefore made a lifelong resident of the shelter. He became a much beloved greeter at the MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center, and when the MSPCA left the island and NiSHA was created, he became a founding member, even ”grandfathered” into the rental lease with Offshore Animal Hospital.
Sometimes known as “Sir Leaks A Lot,” Oreo had kidney and bladder issues that we were told would take his life at a very young age. Much to our surprise and delight, he lived 12 years longer than expected!
The only shelter animal with independent outdoor privileges, he was the quintessential cat: always on the wrong side of the door. He loved the outdoors and would often run up to eat at the feral cat feeder out back, or go in search of small critters to “play” with.
Since the very beginning, Oreo was a friend to all: an Animal Ambassador who visited with children in schools and at the shelter; our unofficial dog “tester,” who let us know which dogs would do well in a home with a cat; a willing “patient” when we needed to show a volunteer how to pill a cat; and, as some of you know, Calista’s beau of many years.
His late in life love affair with Calista was well-documented and rich fodder for shelter drama, gossip, and social media exploitation. Initiated by Calista, and tolerated by Oreo, the affair lasted until his death. Begrudgingly accepting her head butts and grooming in the beginning, Oreo would soon reciprocate in kind.
Oreo was pre-deceased by his shelter cat friend, Camilla. He leaves behind—and will be greatly missed by—Calista and the staff and volunteers of NiSHA and Offshore Animal Hospital.
Let’s be blunt: when Calista came to the shelter she was not winning any popularity contests. A “typical torti,” she’d hiss and swat as soon as she was close enough for contact. Understandably, she was upset and stressed to be thrust into a new situation, and into a room she had to share with many strange cats.
Along came Oreo. Actually, Oreo was already there. A10-year resident of the shelter, Oreo’s medical issues prevent him from being adopted, and to him the shelter IS home.
From the start Calista made overtures to Oreo. Deftly pushing her head into him as he’d pass by. Lying close to him on whatever surface he happened to be napping or (a-hem) washing up on.
However, Oreo was not to be won over so easily. You see, he’d seen them come, and he’d seen them go. Perhaps he didn’t want to get too attached to anyone, lest he or she be adopted and he lost yet another friend . . .
But Calista’s charms were too great . . . and finally Oreo succumbed.
Now, they groom each other and sleep together in the same bed.
They’ve found comfort and friendship for however much time they have together.
When the MSPCA departed Nantucket 5 years ago, leaving the island with no animal shelter, a group of dedicated volunteers met to ensure that all stray and homeless animals would be cared for until they were reunited with their families or adopted into life-long, responsible new homes. At that meeting, Nantucket Island Safe Harbor for Animals was born.
All-volunteer run for almost 2 years, NiSHA slowly secured funding, built its infrastructure and created programs for Nantucket families. By year 4, we had hired staff, developed and expanded our programs, and created collaborations with other area agencies to help even more people and pets.
Five years later, our programs include Land to Sea Pet Rescue, which brings adoptable animals to the island; a robust school-year and summer Humane Education program; Lucky Whiskers and Wags Fund, which offers grants to help Nantucketers with emergency medical care for pets; a Pet Food Pantry; a Spay/Neuter Fund; and a Seniors with Pets Assistance fund to help senior citizens with pet care.
To date, NiSHA has cared for over 1,200 stray and homeless animals and aided countless Nantucket families with their pets.
We could not have done it without the Nantucket community—both individuals in the form of donors and volunteers, and businesses as partners and sponsors—rallying behind us.
To help celebrate, NiSHA will be giving away a Shelter Pet Goodie Basket. Enter here!
THANK YOU for caring about Nantucket’s lost and homeless pets and their families!
Covered in fatty tumors, walking at a rambling snail’s pace, 13-year-old Nitro was surrendered to the shelter due to a move. His sister, surrendered at the same time, had such a large tumor that she sadly did not survive the surgery to remove it. Left without his lifetime companion, Nitro was looking at a sad future: a long time spent in the shelter while he awaited that very special person willing to adopt a large senior dog.
Nitro, however, had one more card to play: he was one of the sweetest, gentlest, most caring dogs we’d ever met. And he was going to play that card in spades!
At NiSHA, we believe in fostering: getting a shelter pet into a real home allows that pet the feeling of family life, even if only for a short time. We also believe that you have to be creative to find the best option for an animal.
So when the opportunity for an off-island foster home arrived, Lori Smith, our dog adoption coordinator, jumped at the opportunity and came up with a plan to make it work.
Tara, the potential fosterer, was in a difficult transitional period in her own life, and thought a dog would be great company and therapy for her. However, she knew that she was not financially ready for the commitment a pet brings. Fostering would be the perfect fit for her. So she started searching PetFinder for adult and senior dogs near her, and that’s where she found Nitro!
Since she manages the educational farm at Camp Burgess & Hayward (a branch of the South Shore YMCA in Sandwich, MA), she figured she could foster Nitro in the quieter winter months, but in the summer, when camp is in full swing, he’d need to come back to the island.
But she didn’t figure on that card Nitro was carrying. His sweet nature and easy-going, therapeutic personality quickly worked their magic on the other staff and the campers. Tara writes:
“Nitro’s lumpy face, mismatched ears, and incredible disposition won over everyone who met him, whether he was holding down the fort in the office, keeping an eye on the livestock at the farm, accepting love and pets as campers filed into the dining hall, or lounging in the pond by my dock watching the boats go by. On one extraordinarily difficult day, when one of our young staff members unexpectedly passed away, Nitro stepped up as an unofficial therapy dog for our grieving campers and staff—many campers who weren’t comfortable talking to their peers or to the grief counselors instead opted to sit with Nitro, taking comfort in his quiet, loving presence. It’s no exaggeration to say that he brought joy to hundreds of lives during his time at Camp Burgess.”
Nitro lived at the camp surrounded by natural beauty—a pond to wade in, trees for shade—and loving children and adults who adored him. He was experiencing what maybe were the best months of his entire life in what must have seemed like heaven to him.
But now over 14 years old, his large body was slowing down and becoming ill, and soon the vet recommended euthanasia. When the day came, the staff and campers returned Nitro’s favor of supportive love and care. On the day he was humanely euthanized, the staff surrounded him with love:
“Nitro went easily and comfortably . . . he was lying at the edge of the pond, snacking on delicious treats and surrounded by people who love him.”
And he did not go alone. Tara relates: “As we were digging his grave, a frog came and tucked itself into his blanket and kept watch until we were ready to move Nitro—a kind little sentry to usher him along to his next version of heaven!”
What looked like a bleak life for Nitro turned into a life-enriching experience for him, for Tara, and for all the lives he touched. Thank you to Tara, a foster mom willing to open her heart to an older dog; to the camp staff willing to step in and share his care during the busy summer months; and, most importantly, to Nitro, whose own generous and loving spirit secured him a spot in heaven on earth.
If you think you’d like to foster a shelter pet, visit our website to find out more here.
Many people think of NSHA as a shelter–a place to bring an animal to safety or a place to find a new furry friend. And we are certainly that. AND we are more than that. We offer many programs to islanders that help them. . . find, keep, or help their pets; learn about the responsible care of animals; and find meaningful ways to give back to their community.
Fall has been a busy month for NSHA’s community work. Here’s what we’ve been up to.
The Farmer’s Market welcomed us almost every Saturday. We loved talking to islanders and visitors alike about all things animal. We met lovely people, found homes for a few dogs, and filled our coin canister!
Our Microchip and ID Clinic with Animal Care with Kindness (Dr. Paula Klek) attracted some interesting customers–not all of whom we could actually safely microchip. But everyone had fun making their own “shrinky-dink” pet ID tags! Gotta keep our pets safe.
In October, for Black Pet Month, we teamed up with the Black Dog store on Straight Wharf for a Black Pet Celebration. Many children came out to “adopt” their own black cat or dog toy. Current and past black shelter dogs paraded their loveliness for all to see. And many myths about black dogs and cats were dispelled in the process.
An important part of NSHA’s mission is to advocate for all animals. October and November were months to gather signatures to help “Prevent Farm Animal Cruelty” reach the 95,000 signatures they needed to get a bill onto the 2016 Massachusetts ballot that would outlaw cruel confinement for farmed chickens, pigs and calves. Keeping compassion local!
Thanks to all of our wonderful, tireless volunteers who make our community work possible!
Thanks to the wonderful donors who generously answered our April Special Projects appeal, we were able to finally build a safe and cozy outdoor space for the “office cats.” Our office cats include Camilla, who lives with us, and some of the older kitties who prefer their own company (as opposed to the company of the crazy kittens in our Cheetah Room). Each day, the office cats will get their turn in the catio, for some fresh air, sunshine, and bird song.
Peter Sendelbach and Greg Shephard worked long hours together to build the catio under the the overhang of our porch. A cat door was installed in the office window and a few stepping shelves were added (thanks Fred Lindquist!). Rugs and cubbies round out the new kitty cabana.
We are constantly awed by the altruism, willingness and hard work of our community. We often say it takes a village to run a shelter, and this is just one of the many shelter projects that our Nantucket “village” helped create.
We had great weather and over 60 dogs register to be in the parade! A good time was had by all! We want to thank Lissa Foote and Als Allan for organizing the festivities, Ralph Lauren and The Daisy Scouts!