It hardly seems possible. At times, it is difficult to remember how long ago it was when I was in the process of burning out as a Marin County real estate broker and miraculously just happened to spot a classified ad in the Marin Independent Journal. The part-time position was for someone to work out of his or her home from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and the job required interviewing, sending out educational material, writing ads and short letters, with two years of college preferred. The ad also said that above all, the applicant “must be an animal lover.”
That’s what sparked my attention: “Must be an animal lover.” Indeed I was, and am. A very brief letter, typed on animal-bordered stationery, landed this workaholic a job that seem tailor-made, and six months of basic training ensued with my boss and mentor. The truth is, however, when we worked together those months, the job actually turned out to be Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Not exactly part time. And it severely cut into my real estate business, but I was smitten.
I went home one day and asked my husband, “Would you mind if I never sold another house?”
“No,” he said.
I do not know what I might have done had he said otherwise.
After six months, my mentor and boss left for Oregon to continue her work there, leaving me on my own. That’s when All Creatures Animal Caring Society was launched, and so was my long-held passion for animals released. It was 1995. I immediately applied to the federal and state governments for nonprofit status, and we became an official 501 (c) (3) nonprofit animal welfare-rescue organization that continues today as an all-volunteer group in San Rafael.
The “match” between me and rescued animals, however, turned out not to have been made in heaven. Instead, it was a match made right here, in Marin County. The creatures needed all the help they could get, and I needed the creatures. My goal was to take a few dogs at a time from public shelters and to place them with the best-matched human companions I could find. That goal has never changed in the 20-plus years I’ve been doing this.
Along the way, I acquired a few of my own animals, decidedly an occupational hazard, but the love given and received was, for me, extraordinary. I was in it for life, beginning by taking in cats and kittens and adopting them out to people who came to my home.
By 1999, 22 cats remained after I made what seemed to me a terrible mistake. A woman had adopted Nathaniel, a very handsome, statuesque orange tabby adult. But something gnawed at me about this adoption. Later that evening, she said Nathaniel was destroying her Belmont apartment. We picked him up immediately. My beloved Nathaniel stayed with us until it was time to leave for kitty heaven many long and happy years later.
Immediately after the Nathaniel incident, I met with the remaining “kids,” telling them they could all stay for life and we would all grow old together. They did, and so did we. By 2015, I lost the last cat, my beloved black Beauty Bear.
From then on, I decided, for the sake of my emotional health, to work primarily with shelter dogs that would be placed in foster homes or in boarding until I could match them with the best human companions. And that’s what I’m still doing today at All Creatures Animal Caring Society.
Lyn Gladstone is the founder and director of All Creatures Animal Caring Society, a nonprofit animal welfare rescue organization run by volunteers in San Rafael.