Waking Up in Santa Monica….

By Qin Sun Stubis

(Originally published in the Santa Monica Star)

This September, I spent a memorable night here in Santa Monica with some of my dear friends. It was a rare moment during which we laughed and chatted face-to-face, just so happy to be together again. Then I went to bed in a room with a wall-to-wall window facing the direction of the ocean. Though the Pacific was still quite a distance away and no rising and crashing of waves lulled me to dreamland, I smelt its salty presence in the air.

I woke up the next morning to a grand view of the sky laden with heavy, dark clouds framed by that expansive window in front of me. Having just arrived from the East Coast, I reflexively thought how an overcast day lay ahead.

I have spent many summer weeks on Fire Island, a barrier island off the New York shore, where the sun rises over the ocean and the first glimpse of the sky at dawn often foretells the weather for the rest of the day. Only the evening dusk has the power to conquer the ocean’s grey mist, rolling out a dark blanket to cover the land as the setting sun heads westward until sky and water blacken to one.

As I lay quietly that morning, though, I could detect a slight motion in the horizontal grey blur, slowly, silently ebbing away in the direction of the ocean until a hint of blue magically appeared on top of the clouds, now rimmed with a rosy hue, unmasking another sunny California day coming my way.

Soon enough, birds started chirping, traffic flowing, and Santa Monica was wide awake. The sun, rising over the vastness of America, had pushed her way to the West, finally touching the sleepy sea and driving the departing grey band further and further into the distance until it disappeared from my sight.

Being in Santa Monica for the second time, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d seen this color transformation before, and that here, the first glimpse of sunny California I have experienced always seemed to start with ocean grey, so grey that I could not tell where the water ended and sky began. I had to wait for the sun to arrive and separate the two. I’ve also learned that I need not worry, just watch patiently and confidently as another bright day announces it is on its way.

At the moment, against the purest form of blue a sky could offer, a towering palm tree waved gently as if greeting me as it stood high above the roof of a neighboring house. Its handsome green leaves soared toward the sky while its shaggy, dried-up branches hung low, disappearing behind the persimmon roof shingles, like an old man’s long, precious, unkempt beard.

“Good morning,” I whispered to myself. “I’m waking up in Santa Monica.”

You can always reach me at qstubis@gmail.com.

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Keeping Pets Safe On Halloween

Halloween is in just a few days, which means frightening family fun—from costume contests to trick-or-treating—is right around the corner. Although Halloween is filled with light-hearted tricks and treats, it’s important to keep safety in mind for every member of the family—including your pets. Halloween can pose a number of potential safety hazards for pets, who tend to experience high levels of stress due to the hustle and bustle of the holiday. Here are a few tips from American Humane to keep you and your four-legged family members safe and happy this Halloween:

• Costumes, while cute, can be dangerous for pets. Costume contests are popular around Halloween, and it’s tempting to want to dress up your four-legged friend in their own costume. After all, who can resist dressing up a pet in a cute witch’s cape or antlers? But if you do choose to dress your pet up in costume, make sure they can move in it comfortably and most importantly, safely. Avoid costumes that require tying anything around your pet’s neck that can choke them, or costumes that hang to the ground that they may stumble over. Let your pet be the judge. If they struggle and are uncomfortable, then maybe it’s best to let them stay dressed as a Corgi rather than a ghost!

• Keep your pet away from harmful Halloween candy and food. Before you give in to your pet’s pleading eyes and feed them that Halloween candy bar, be aware of the harmful consequences of feeding human food to any animal. Chocolate—especially baking chocolate—can be deadly to a dog, so keep all such goodies well out of reach. The other lurking danger during Halloween is a substance called Xylitol. This is a low-calorie sweetener found most commonly in gum and candy. It can be potentially lethal when consumed, even in small quantities. To reduce temptation, feed your pet before any guests arrive so they will be less likely to beg and steal food. Tell your guests of any house rules regarding your pet, such as not feeding them scraps from the table.

• If nicotine and alcohol will be consumed in your home this Halloween, be extra vigilant to keep these items out of your pet’s reach. These substances can be highly toxic—even deadly—to animals.

• Keep your home a safe space for your pet. Animals can get stressed with the hustle and bustle of guests and trick-or-treaters. It’s best to keep your pets indoors and provide them with a safe, quiet, escape-proof room where they can be removed from the energy and excitement of the holiday. Remember to provide plenty of food and water, and let your pet catch up on some Zs!

• As trick-or-treaters come to your door, there will be many opportunities for your pets to slip out unnoticed. Make sure that your pets always wear current identification tags, consider having your pets microchipped if you haven’t already—and watch the door!

Halloween, and all the spooky fun that accompanies the holiday, is best enjoyed when the entire family is safe and happy. Follow these tips, and your pet will have just as much fun as you and your kids this Halloween! Be sure to visit our holiday tips page for even more helpful advice to help you and your pets with some of the other upcoming holidays.

About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877.

For more information please visit http://www.AmericanHumane.org.

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Television’s Biggest Night of the Year for Animal Lovers Arrives Wednesday

For animal lovers, it’s television’s biggest night of the year. Based on nearly a million votes by the American public and the deliberations by a panel of celebrity animal lovers and dog experts, one courageous canine is chosen each year as the best of our best friends at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards®! Sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc. and broadcast nationwide on Hallmark Channel this Wednesday, October 25 at 8 pm/ 7Central, the Hero Dog Awards, which have been called the “Oscars for Dogs,” will showcase the nation’s seven most heroic hounds and their stories before unveiling the top American Hero Dog for 2017.

The fabulous, four-legged heroes are being honored by a veritable galaxy of two-legged stars, including Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Vivica Fox, James Denton, Beth Ostrosky Stern, Alison Sweeney, Bailee Madison, Danica McKellar, Daisy Fuentes, Barbara Niven, Brandon McMillan, Carolyn Hennesy, and many others during the annual gala at the Beverly Hilton. Richard Marx is providing the lead musical performances.

Among the furry finalists you can look forward to meeting are:

Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs category (sponsored by K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis)

Ice (Olympia, WA) – In the early hours of July 21, 2016, a team of officers from the U.S. Forest Service and deputies from the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office were investigating an illegal marijuana garden on public lands within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Two suspects attempted to flee and Ice was deployed to capture one of the suspects. As Ice was apprehending the suspect, the suspect used a large knife to stab Ice twice in the chest as well as in the face and muzzle. Despite Ice’s serious wounds, Ice continued to apprehend the suspect until the suspect was taken into custody. Ice’s bravery likely saved the other officers from being stabbed or injured. Despite his trauma, Ice didn’t let out a whine or whimper. Ice’s handler and the team immediately bandaged and dressed his wounds. As the area was extremely rugged and remote, a California Highway Patrol helicopter was dispatched. Ice’s handler and other team members then took turns carrying Ice approximately three-quarters of a mile over rough terrain and through dense vegetation to a suitable landing location. Ice was airlifted to VCA Asher Animal Hospital in Redding, CA and taken immediately into surgery where the doctors and staff were able to repair his wounds. Ice has since made a full recovery and has returned to duty. This wasn’t Ice’s first scrape, and though he is a tough-as-nails working dog, Ice also has an extraordinary ability to interact and socialize with people. Both of these amazing abilities make Ice a truly special dog and partner.

Emerging Hero Dogs category (sponsored by the maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables)

Abigail (Lehigh Acres, FL) – Abigail is a gal that did not ask for the life she was forced to live. Abigail and her bonnets have changed the world. Abigail is a HERO because of the lesson she teaches about forgiveness and dog fighting. Abigail and her Bonnets have brought awareness to the importance of ending dog fighting. A 1-year-old pit mix, she was found as a stray in Miami FL. Brockton drove to Miami to bring her to LIFE Rescue. Upon her arrival and after further examinations we suspected she suffered from a life of dog fighting. She was anemic, she was infested with ticks, and scars covered her bloody head, neck, back legs, and half her face was missing. She smelled so bad because of infections, and was covered in dried mud. One side of her face was missing and her skin had been ripped off right down to the ear drum. Abigail had only spent a day at the shelter before she was brought to the rescue’s vet clinic. Her injuries were at least a week old and she almost lost her life. Abigail had weeks of hospitalization and daily bandage changes. How would she live a normal life? Would she need rehab? She had several major surgeries with extensive skin grafts. Day Two of her journey is when her “mission” began.TJ, her vet and her vet tech Destiny were changing her bandages. The way they held the gauze looked like a bow. Since then we called her bandages “her bonnets.” People started sending bonnets from all over the world. Abigail is on Facebook at “Bonnets for Abigail” with over 12,000 followers who love her. Abigail didn’t need therapy. Abigail is the therapy. She loves people and dogs. She has a mission to continue to teach forgiveness and end dog fighting.

Guide/Hearing Dogs category

Pierce (Palm Bay, FL) – While serving with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division during the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), Don sustained an injury that eventually claimed his vision. In the more than two decades that followed, Don navigated through life with his white cane, along with the support of his wife, Peggy, and two children. As an experienced cane traveler who moved about the world quite well, Don had not seriously considered getting a guide dog until one day he now remembers as a turning point in his journey. Last year, on a family vacation, Don and his son, Jordan, set out to explore historical monuments together. At the conclusion of the trip, Don asked Jordan to describe his favorite part of the tour to which the twelve-year-old responded, “Dad, I wasn’t paying much attention…I wanted to make sure you didn’t fall.” Heartbroken at this admission, Don knew Jordan needed the freedom to be a kid and not a sighted guide. And the payoff in having his guide dog, “Pierce,” has been even greater than relieving this burden from his son; Don is experiencing life with refreshed independence and freedom. His wife, Peggy, shares, “I have seen a new confidence in Don and I can’t thank Fidelco enough for their part in it. Don’s guide dog is a very loving companion and dedicated to his work. We have all fallen in love.”

Military Dogs category (sponsored by the K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis)

Adak (St. Cloud, MN) – Adak is a 13-year-old German Shepherd. His longevity and accomplishments as an explosive detection dog are unmatched. During his career he has provided support to dignitaries and celebrities, and at events across more than 10 states and three countries. He was a Contract Working Dog (CWD) for the U.S. State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army, Ft. McCoy and for a private business, Dogs for Defense Inc. (D4D). Adak’s first assignment was in Iraq in 2006. Adak was assigned to support the U.S. embassy and dignitaries. Adak performed a sweep of the Baghdad Central Station prior to the arrival of a dignitary. While performing the sweep, Adak alerted to a vehicle in the area, canceling the event. On January 14, 2008, the Kabul Serena Hotel was subjected to a complex terror attack. During the attack numerous guests were trapped in the hotel. Adak’s was the first K-9 team to arrive, with terrorists still inside the hotel. Adak led a team of Americans who went room to room inside while terrorists were still active. Adak came across dismembered, deceased victims during his search and performed flawlessly. Over 20 people were evacuated, and a total of six people died, including one American. In 2009 Adak was conducting a sweep of the Ministry of Agriculture when he had an alert. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit arrived and identified the threat as a mortar shell. Working for D4D gave Adak constant opportunities to do unique detection work across the U.S. until he was 13. His transition from war to family member was incredible. Sadly, Adak recently passed away.

Search and Rescue Dogs category (sponsored by Compassion-First Pet Hospitals)

Luca (Grand Prairie, TX) – On March 15, 2016, Fort Worth Police were dispatched to a missing endangered male. Two elderly men visited a large salvage yard when one suddenly realized that his elderly friend with Alzheimer’s was missing. After a brief search, he realized he needed help and called police. Many officers responded due to the age/medical condition of the missing man. After an extensive search, Sgt. Medrano asked Officer Brock if Luca would be of any help. Luca is Officer Brock’s retired Search-and-Rescue (SAR) German Shepherd, who was 10 years old at the time of this call. Luca excelled in area, water, avalanche and forest/desert searches. Officer Brock believed Luca excelled in this and it meant a helicopter ride, which Luca loved. Officer Brock picked Luca up from his home and Luca fell back into his training and used his SAR skills to search for the missing man. Luca alerted at an opening of brush at the Trinity River, which led to a very steep hill followed by a steep drop-off. Due to terrain, a PD helicopter responded and immediately observed the lost man in the river, stuck in waist-high mud on the opposite bank of the river where Luca alerted. Officers shed their gear, swam across the river, rescued the man and brought him to safety. Had Luca not tracked the man’s trail and located him, the man would have drowned in the river, which still had very cold, high, fast-paced water or succumbed to the temperature. Luca’s love and dedication to SAR showed the resilience of older dogs and how training doesn’t go away just because they retire. Unfortunately, Luca recently passed away. We salute him for his work.

Service Dogs category (sponsored by Modern Dog)

Atlas the Wonder Dog (Dayton, OH) – After coming home from Iraq, struggling with PTSD and dealing with the effects of a TBI from a roadside bomb, I was virtually lost, locked in my own personal prison. I began getting treatment while still Active Duty, which consisted of talk therapy and a single prescription. After getting out of the Marines, I continued treatment with the VA system, and nearly a decade later, the “treatment” consisted of more than eight different prescriptions totaling more than 33 pills a day.…my life felt very sad, hazy, and hopeless……I was lost. Until I found Atlas. Atlas is not only my service dog but my lifesaver. Atlas is a grounding and solid presence when flashbacks, hypervigilance, and the lingering effects of war begin again to creep up my spine. Atlas has been trained to sense these changes in me and then acts to redirect my attention and focus during these overwhelming instances. Whether it is to nudge my hand if I am getting anxious, wake me up in the throes of a nightmare or just stand behind me so I know someone has my back. With his presence, I am able to take an active, positive role in my children’s lives. Atlas has not only completely changed my life, but as the “face” of, and inspiration behind the creation of The Battle Buddy Foundation, he is also a beacon of hope for so many others struggling to cope. A regal reminder that there is hope, that there IS a way to find yourself again after combat and trauma, and that your pains and struggles have value.

Therapy Dogs category (sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food)

Aladdin (Haddonfield, NJ) – Aladdin was found severely emaciated in 2013. He was missing 12 teeth and had open wounds. I foster emaciated dogs and he came to me. From the moment I met him, his little tail never stopped wagging, despite his horrific condition. Aladdin had a rough recovery but he overcame the obstacles put before him. He greeted every person with a lot of hope and despite the abuse he suffered he trusted enough to learn that no one would hurt him again. Within the year he was a certified therapy dog bringing love to everyone he meets. Aladdin is a Ronald McDonald House Ambassador dog, his favorite duty! He visits schools doing a humane education, anti-bullying program. He is a trained crisis response dog and spent a week in Orlando last year after the shooting doing therapy visits and fundraising for the Victims Fund. He works with the Philadelphia Police fundraising for the Fallen Officers Fund and attending the events they do with special needs children. He is an ambassador dog for Tito’s Vodka for Dog People Campaign and together they have raised over 300,000 for rescues and shelters all over. He also works with veterans and PACT for Animals. Most importantly he is a model/ambassador for Show Your Soft Side, a nationwide animal abuse campaign and he is the spokesdog for the rescue I work with, Lilo’s Promise. Lilo’s takes in medical needs dogs like Aladdin. Heroes come in all shapes & sizes, Aladdin has taught me that each time I watch him work.

“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the most extraordinary heroes the world has ever known, the very best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization. “These courageous canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill, aged and afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it, and reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people. All seven category winners exemplify what it means to be a hero, and we hope that their stories will inspire people to value our animal friends and to recognize and honor how much they do for us every day.”

“It is an honor to support an effort to recognize the best of our ‘best friends,’” said philanthropist Lois Pope, who has been the awards’ presenting sponsor for six years. “From those who defend our country to those who help us heal, guide us, protect us, and help find the lost, every single contender exemplifies the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight in the Hero Dog Awards campaign. Through this national forum we have helped educate America about the lifesaving, life-affirming work of our nation’s canine heroes.”

Heroes Who Save and Keep Our Hero Pets Healthy All Year Round Also Honored

Behind every hero pet is a hero vet or vet tech. Each year at the Hero Dog Awards, American Humane also announced the winners of its Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, sponsored by the leading animal health company Zoetis. After a nationwide search and tens of thousands of public votes, American Humane will reveal 2017’s American Hero Veterinarian and this year’s American Hero Veterinary Technician.

“To us, all vets and vet techs are heroes and this is why we want to honor the best of the best in their fields,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “They are tremendous animal welfare advocates and we are so proud to recognized their laudable accomplishments aiding the animals in need in their communities and beyond. Special thanks to our friends at Zoetis for sponsoring this special national campaign because we know how committed they are to recognizing the achievements of the veterinary community.”

So, be sure to break out the popcorn, dog treats (and maybe a box of tissues), pull up a chair for yourself and your best friend, and tune in to this year’s American Humane Hero Dog Awards on Hallmark Channel Wednesday, October 25 at 8 pm/7 Central!

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A Butterfly for a Sister: Dream of a Life Taken Too Soon










By Qin Sun Stubis

In the days of deep orange tiger lily blossoms this May, a life was silently taken, suddenly, tragically, in the midst of its full flowering. A life that was so important to me and a part of me. No complaints of sickness, no sign that it was fluttering down like an autumn leaf toward the ground. My younger sister, a beautiful woman, Min Sun Bamfield.

I was completely shattered by the news, trembling, my brain numb as if it no longer understood the logic of this world. Pain went through me as if I had been stabbed. A shock hit me every time I thought about her and how she was gone.

To make this more tragic, I had invited our older sister, Ping, to visit me from China. It was her first trip to America and we were about to fly to Ohio for a big reunion. For various complicated reasons, I hadn’t seen Min for 11 years and was looking forward to the trip.

Now, instead of a reunion, my husband Mark drove us 700 miles to attend a wake and memorial to say goodbye, knowing we could never set our eyes on her ever again. Our dearest Min.

We returned to Maryland on a very late Thursday night. Ping and I spent much of the next two days at home, mourning. That Sunday, Mark coaxed us out for a walk in a state park. We soon turned the car around for fear of bad weather, went home for some tennis rackets and headed to a local park instead.

We were out for an hour. I was still in the car when I heard Mark calling, “Qin, come! You have a visitor!” Who could it be? I dashed to the front door. Seeing no stranger at all, I looked up at him.

“Look, a visitor,” Mark said, pointing at a creature I had failed to notice. It was a butterfly sitting in front of our doormat. With its wings folded upward, it mingled almost unnoticed with a few brown leaves. Then it started to open and close its wings, revealing its true colors of deep orange dotted with black spots. It had a swallow tail and two long antennas. It was beautiful.

I looked up at Mark. “It was here when I came to get the tennis rackets,” he said. “Sitting in the same spot.” By then, the butterfly was airborne. It spiraled around Ping from her neck to her feet before it began to wrap itself around me, as if embracing us.

Min was born on the night of the harvest moon. Her favorite colors were bright orange and golden yellow. Is she here for the farewell embrace we didn’t get in Ohio? I felt overwhelmed.

Twenty minutes later, Ping opened the front door to find the butterfly sitting in the same spot again looking at her. Another 30 minutes later, I opened the door again to see the same sight. This miraculous butterfly had spent over two hours in front of our house!

When it finally left, we dashed toward the computer in search of its name and origin, for it was a butterfly none of us had seen before. Our quest eventually led us to the Ohio History Connection website where it was revealed to be a “Question Mark,” a very thought-provoking name indeed.

Am I humanizing this very mysterious, fluttering creature which just happened to have appeared at the right place at the right time? Or was I experiencing an enchanting moment in life? Now, every time I stand at my doorway, I think about this butterfly, and then I think about Min.

You can always reach me at qstubis@gmail.com

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Zoos & Aquariums Queuing Up to Earn American Humane Certification

Leading zoological institutions around the globe are flocking to achieve certification under the American Humane Conservation program, the world’s first-ever certification program singularly dedicated to helping ensure the well-being and humane treatment of the millions of animals living in zoos, aquariums, and conservation centers across the globe.

American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization and world’s largest certifier of animal care, launched the program in June 2016. Within the program’s inaugural year, twenty-five facilities within seventeen leading institutions in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe and Asia earned its Humane Certified™ seal for the treatment of their animals. Institutions certified under American Humane Conservation include:

• Brookfield Zoo; Brookfield, Illinois
• Ocean Park; Hong Kong, China
• Shedd Aquarium; Chicago, Illinois
• Vancouver Aquarium; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
• Georgia Aquarium; Atlanta, Georgia
• Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
• Dolphin Quest; Bermuda
• Dolphin Quest; Hawaii – Big Island
• Dolphin Quest; Hawaii – Oahu
• Mystic Aquarium; Mystic, Connecticut
• San Antonio Zoo; San Antonio, Texas
• Fort Worth Zoo; Fort Worth, Texas
• Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage; Las Vegas, Nevada
• Loro Parque; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
• Zoomarine Italia; Rome, Portugal
• Woodland Park Zoo; Seattle, Washington
• Tanganyika Wildlife Park; Goddard, Kansas

“American Humane Conservation launched in June 2016 as the first program of its kind – the new gold standard for animals in zoos, aquariums, and conservation parks,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane. “Each of the twenty-five facilities certified by American Humane Conservation in its first year has proved its commitment to meeting the highest standards of humane, verifiable, and transparent animal care, and we are tremendously proud of their dedication to the care and preservation of world’s majestic creatures.”

The American Humane Conservation program enforces comprehensive, science-based standards developed by an unparalleled, independent Scientific Advisory Committee comprised of world-renowned leaders in the fields of animal science, animal behavior, animal ethics, and conservation. The program’s rigorous criteria help exhaustively verify the many dimensions of animal well-being, with areas of assessment including: excellent health and housing; positive social interactions within groups of animals, as well as between animals and handlers; safe and stimulating environments, enriched and with concern for factors such as appropriate lighting, sound levels, air quality, and thermoregulation; and evidence of thorough preparation and protocols established to prevent and manage medical or operational emergencies. For added rigor, each institutions’ compliance with the American Humane Conservation standards was verified through an exhaustive independent audit.

Since its launch, dozens of zoos, aquariums, and conservation centers across the world have lined up to undergo the program’s rigorous audit. Many institutions are unable to achieve certification under American Humane Conservation due to the stringent standards on which the program is based.

“With fewer truly wild places left in the world, zoos and aquariums have become modern day arks of hope for many of the planet’s critically endangered species,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert. “American Humane Conservation’s Humane Certified™ seal of approval helps verify for the public that the animals living in these institutions are living under high standards of verifiable humane care. We are proud to congratulate each of the twenty-five world-class facilities that have continuously proven their dedication to the responsible, humane treatment of the remarkable animals under their care.”

You can read more about the American Humane Conservation program here: http://humaneconservation.org/.

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From Emma Nutt to Girls Around the World

By Qin Sun Stubis

Girls grow up confidently these days, knowing they can do almost anything and everything boys do. They can scale mountains and become astronauts. They can design machines and become sea captains. And some day, one of them shall become the first female President of the United States.

But Emma Nutt lived in a different era. It was a time when women did not compete with men for jobs. Instead, they were taught to take care of household chores and groomed to become stay-at-home mothers. And, they learned to obey rules and their men.

Then Emma broke a taboo. She challenged America by becoming the first female telephone operator. And, she excelled. When her company realized how well she could do her job, it would soon hire many more other women. It all happened in Boston in 1878.

It was a story of an ordinary woman showing our nation her courage by stepping into the male job world, setting a milestone in gender equality and women’s rights. Now her daring feat is imprinted on our September calendar as National Emma Nutt Day.

As a girl growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, I could have used Emma Nutt as a role model. Though I didn’t need to have my feet bound and mouth covered when I laughed, I was bound and gagged by many of our old cultural beliefs against girls.

In theory, I was taught by Mao, women were capable of holding up half of the sky, and men and women were equal; in reality, I was given a very clear message that girls were not important and valued. My paternal grandmother often hugged my boy cousin and rewarded him with candies while casting cold stares at me and making comments such as “Girls are only raised for other families.” I saw my mother cry when she was being bullied for not having any boys.

It was hard to grow up with confidence when I felt being a girl was a defect and I had to face rejection by my own extended family. “Mom,” my younger sister, Min, once comforted my mother when she was just five years old. “I’ll have a boy for you when I grow up.”

Thanks to many “Emmas” who have risen to challenges and faced prejudices, girls in America today don’t have to live like second-class citizens. They attend school, learn special skills and work side by side with men, whether on land, on the water, or in space.

Finally, we can feel great to be women in America and around the world. From Asia to Latin America, from the South Pacific to Northern Ireland, more and more girls can now grow and excel with confidence and pride, not just on Emma Nutt Day, but every day.

Qin is a longtime columnist at The Santa Monica Star (reprinted with permission)

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Hurricane! Keeping Yourself and Your Pets Safe

Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane, threatening Texas and Louisiana with torrential rains, dangerous winds, and flooding. As it has done for 100 years, the American Humane Rescue team is standing by to help save and shelter animals in need. In the meantime, here are some potentially lifesaving tips from the team’s experts to keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe during a hurricane:

Before the storm

• Microchip pets or put a tag on their collar with your name, address and cellphone number so they may be returned quickly in case you are separated from your pets. Be sure that any microchip information is up-to-date.
• Tie down or anchor outside objects that might fly about and injure someone.
• Know a safe place where your pets can go if you need to evacuate or seek shelter. Evacuation destinations may include a friend or family member’s home, going to a pet-friendly hotel, or temporarily housing your pet(s) at a boarding facility. Plan multiple routes to your safe destination. Review your evacuation plan and double-check emergency supplies – including bowls, water and food.
• Evacuate your family and pets as early as you can and remember to take your disaster preparedness kit for your pets (i.e. First Aid kit, leashes, and pets’ carrying cases, bowls, sanitation materials, chew toy, minimum 3 days, ideally 7-10 days of food, meds, water, your veterinarian’s contact information, a photo of your pet).
• Bring pets inside; bring outdoor animals inside with a carrier ready large enough to turn around and lie down comfortably.
• Have a carrier at the ready. The portable carriers(s) should be large enough for your pets to stand-up and turn around in ready to go at a moment’s notice. Practice loading cats and dogs in pet carriers before you have to.
• If your family must evacuate, take your pets with you.

During the storm….if you cannot evacuate

• Choose a safe room for riding out the storm—an interior room without windows – and take your entire family there, including your pets.
• Stay with pets. If crated, they depend on you for food and water. Don’t leave pets in vehicles.
• Keep your emergency kit in that room with you (food, water, litter, meds, etc).
• Know your pet’s hiding places. That’s where they may run; keep them with you.
• Secure exits and cat doors so pets can’t escape into the storm.
• Do not tranquilize your pets. They’ll need their survival instincts should the storm require that.

After the storm

• Make sure the storm has fully passed before going outside and assess damages before allowing children or animals out.
• Keep dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier, and children close at hand. Displaced objects and fallen trees can disorient pets and sharp debris could harm them.
• Give pets time to become re-oriented. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause a pet to become confused or lost.
• Keep animals away from downed power lines and water that may be contaminated.
• Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet’s behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.

About American Humane and the American Humane Rescue program

American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit http://www.AmericanHumane.org.

The legendary American Humane Rescue program has been involved in nearly every major relief effort over the past 100 years, including World War I when they rescued wounded horses on the battlefields of Europe, the Great Ohio Flood of 1937, Pearl Harbor, Hurricane Katrina, the eruption at Mount Saint Helens, the terror attacks on 9/11, the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Superstorm Sandy, the killer tornadoes in Joplin and Oklahoma, the Louisiana and West Virginia floods, and the Tennessee wildfires. The American Humane Rescue program has rescued more than 80,000 animals in just the past ten years alone.

For more information and tips, or to support American Humane Rescue’s efforts, visit http://www.americanhumane.org or call 1-866-242-1877.

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