No matter how hard everyone tried, nerves and emotions were barely below the surface on Aug. 18, when animal lovers gathered at The Pinery in Black Forest for the Wild Blue Animal Rescue & Sanctuary's annual "FUNdraiser." The sanctuary had taken in the small animals of community members evacuated during the Black Forest fire.
There were cheers, tears and a standing ovation for Black Forest firefighters Dan Zoorob, George Reichert and Teddy Thompson.
Jeffrey and Katharine Zink had volunteered during the Waldo Canyon fire the year prior, never dreaming the Black Forest inferno would destroy everything they owned. "Having lost our home, it was like the whole world was burning," they said. The Zinks, their kids, cats and chickens, were preparing to move into their fifth temporary home the day of the benefit..
Theresa Strader of National Mill Dog Rescue had diligently organized everyone and everything if the call to evacuate came. It did. but they had just five minutes to grab the animals and run. They lost their home and belongings but, said Strader, "what matters the most is what is breathing." It all caught up with her three days later and she had to go to the doctor "I need to turn it off," she told him. What would it take? A frying pan on the head, she asked, only half joking. She wanted to thank Lauri and Wild Blue, Strader said because they couldn't take their old cat Sophie with them to the house where they stayed during the fire. Anything on the floor Sophie would pee on, said Strader, and they couldn't do that to the generous homeowner. She asked if Lauri could take their beloved old pet temporarily and when they went back later to pick her up, Sophie girl was litter-box trained. "I'm taking all the cats to Lauri," Strader kidded. Strader said this was a perfect example of how the rescues and sanctuaries can complement each other as they work together.
Black Forest veterinarian Ted Mohr, fighting tears, told his friends, "We were burned down. I never got to say thank you to the community. All the memories, all the animals we had cared for, all of you." A new location for his offices had been found in Black Forest.
The doctor recalled a funny memory from the fire. Outside his clinic were two heavy-but-pretend fire hydrants for his canine patients. Someone fighting the fire - "not the Black Forest firefighters because they knew about the hydrants" - had tried to turn them on. He can chuckle about it now.
Entertainment at "A Fancy Feast" FUNdraiser - as well as walking adoptable cats through the guests - was provided by members of the family bluegrass band The Wielands of Mass Destruction. They offered themselves as an auction item to play at a house party, but, said the boys' father, it would have to be an early event because "our bass player has to be in bed by 9!"