The below blog post contains grammar errors...please don't judge. It's not meant to be perfect!
Farewell to Adoption Ever After.
Anyone who knows me, knows animals are my life.
They have been for many, many years…but it was never even a thought in my mind that they could EVER be part of my career!
My love for saving the underdogs started early, as my late mother was a huge animal rescuer and always preached the value of “adoption.”
Going to the local animal shelter (for us) was the equivalent to some families going to the local theme park on a boring weekend.
Basically-we were considered “regulars” …OR “stalkers” depending on how you looked at it.
It wasn’t out of the question for my mom and I to sit and wait in the parking lot for people coming to turn in their animals. At that point, we’d jump out of the car and take the animals before they could even enter the shelter doors! We just couldn’t fathom the thought of these babies sitting in a small cage until their time was up.
And as I’ve said before, my mom would never let me adopt the cute, cuddly kitten or puppy. NOPE…it was always the one-eyed, one-legged, cat on its death bed.
Those were the souls she was drawn to because she knew that nobody else would be.
And I thank her for teaching me that every single day.
As I grew up…animals took on an even bigger role in my life. I’ve always been a bit socially awkward (although most people are shocked when I say that.)
I suffered with anxiety from a very young age and things got even worse around my early teen years.
I had bouts of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder & anorexia…. AND this was all BEFORE my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer….oye vey!
So as you can imagine, turning to animals for love and comfort came naturally (plus it made me feel connected to my mom after she passed.)
And as many rescuers will say, there’s a magical healing power our furry friends possess that you can’t find anywhere else.
After my mom passed, I forced myself to move to San Francisco—which led to my career in broadcast journalism and news.
While working as an anchor and reporter in various cities, I imbedded myself into every rescue community I could find.
I found it fascinating to observe the animals in the shelter and learn life through their eyes…
I found it fulfilling to be able to give them 15 minutes outside their small kennels to smell the grass, feel the warmth of the sun and sniff the ground…
I found it beautiful to witness the men & women dedicated to making their lives more enriching while they were waiting in this limbo between life or death….
And I found it utterly disgusting to witness the never-ending flow of animals being dumped, abused, neglected…or worse.
I’ll never forget volunteering at San Francisco Animal Care and Control and being ecstatic after helping a cat get adopted.
Before the adoption papers could even be finalized, the booming voice over the loudspeaker said “mom and 12 kittens at intake.” I was utterly defeated. How can anyone ever celebrate ONE win when you turn around and there’s so many more to try and help? It’s the epitome of swimming upstream (AKA: Insanity.)
It was in that moment I decided I could never turn my back on these living creatures.
As the saying goes “You can’t UNSEE certain things.” THIS was my CERTAIN THINGS.
When I started working at Hallmark Channel, I was hired to be a producer for Home & Family. I never expected to stay very long, as it was an “in between position” while I searched for my next on-camera news gig!
But life works in mysterious ways and I decided I enjoyed being back in LA, working normal hours and learning the production world! (Who needed to work on-camera anyway, right?)
Well… that’s exactly what I thought when everything changed!!
I will FOREVER be grateful to the amazing Executives at Hallmark Channel & Home & Family who saw my passion and gave me a HUGE change to soar into the land of my dreams. A VERY special shout out to Bill Abbott, who I will be eternally grateful for.
Also- a special shout out to Michelle Vicary, Randy Pope and Kristi Foley.
(To be honest, words can’t fully express the depth of my gratitude.)
All this led to the launch of “Adoption Ever After!”
I didn’t come up with the phrase, but I lived and loved it… & knew that failing to launch this initiative was NOT an option!
But it wasn’t always easy! For the first few months as “Pet Rescue Expert,” I was working as BOTH general segment producer AND on-camera talent.
I felt like a mad woman running around set wearing MANY different hats (or outfits to be more accurate.)
One second, I was prepping a guest on their cooking segment in my workout clothes…
The next second, I was throwing on a dress and running to be on-camera to talk about a dog...
The next second…I was sitting in a production meeting pitching the following show’s self-help author…
And the next second I was calling around to schedule the following week’s adoptable animals!
It was hectic, sweaty, scary & chaotic…BUT I loved Every. Single. Second. Of. It.
It didn’t come without its frustrations though.
There was the one time I was producing Kym Douglas, modeling in Lawrence Zarian’s fashion show AND showcasing an adoptable animal.
I’ll never forget watching Kym’s segment film and realizing we totally FORGOT to fill one of her bowls of water…which was 100% necessary for the segment to work. It was awful…embarrassing and landed me in the hot seat in the afternoon meeting!
I also remember rushing to set to showcase an adoptable animal after finishing producing a celebrity guest. It was 110 degrees in LA. I quickly threw on my dress, went on camera as a sweaty mess and as the credits were rolling, realized my bra had been hanging out the entire time! LOL.
It was around this time (because being half naked on TV was frowned upon) that I transitioned to being full time “Pet Rescue Expert!”
A lot goes on behind the scenes every day that most people may not think about.
First, there’s scheduling the animals!
This could sometimes be a challenge because it was very important we showcased a variety of dogs/cats. Sometimes that wasn’t possible. We could only work with what the shelters/rescues had available, so it was a constant juggling game!
We also had to take into consideration that the animal we were planning to showcase might get adopted prior to filming, which would mean we’d have to scramble and find an alternative! Of course, we jumped for joy if that happened and we were always happy to scramble for that reason! But it definitely led to a few last-minute changes that are to blame for some of the gray hairs on my head!
Then there was the handling of the animals when they came to set!
Boy oh boy, did we have many laughs over this!!!
When dogs/cats came to set, we had to time it perfectly! We had to make sure the animal had enough time to try and get comfortable in this foreign environment, but not TOO much time that they’d start getting antsy!
We had to “learn” the animal’s disposition/likes/dislikes within moments and cater to whatever that animal needed.
Did they want to sit on my lap? Did they want to sit on the floor? Was it better if I sat on the floor with them? Did they need their handler to be in the room? Would they behave better if the handler was outside the room? Will treats help them on camera? Will treats get them too riled up for camera? Will the camera guys scare them when they come in the room? Will they bark when they see themselves on camera? Have they gone to the bathroom enough outside? Do they need water?
It was always a fun and funny experience … and definitely taught me a lot about animal behavior and patience!
Then there was the (always) important decision on what to wear…
Each morning I had to remind myself what animals were coming to set in order to decide what clothing would work. If it was a big dog, that ruled out any dresses or skirts where I might have to bend over. If it was a cat, that ruled out anything that could easily snag (something I learned from experience.)
If it was a bunch of puppies…I just had to come to terms with the fact I’d most likely get pooped on/puked on or peed on!!! Hence why I usually purchased less expensive clothing options than some other on camera talents =)
After the pets left, the day was definitely NOT over! My afternoons were full of pitch meetings, keeping track of what animals we had on and which ones had been adopted, searching for new story ideas, scheduling the next week’s animals, etc…!
I was constantly emailing the rescues to get updates and my heart broke every time I learned an animal was still waiting to find their forever home. But I absolutely LOVED hearing the happy tail adoption stories and THAT’S what I will try to take with me now that this journey is ending.
I’ve helped thousands of animals find their forever homes through Adoption Ever After and while that will NEVER feel like enough to me, I know it’s a hell of a lot more than I ever dreamed of.
I also know that I’ve made my family so incredibly proud the last few years ... (especially my mom) and I will never stop being the voice for these voiceless babies.
I’m beyond sad that Home & Family is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean my mission in life is. I will continue to work as hard as possible for these innocent lives and I hope that I’ve helped inspire many others to do the same.
In closing, I am SO grateful for these past few years.
I am SO grateful for the rescuers I’ve met (there are MANY.)
I’m so grateful for the amazing people who trusted me to tell their stories.
I’m SO grateful to each and every animal I interacted with, because they all taught me something about life.
I am SO grateful for the entire cast & crew that made Home & Family the incredible, magical place that it was.
I am SO grateful for every single Home & Family “family” member (past and present) … because they TRULY made “work” the best part of my day.
I am SO grateful for all the producers who helped me when I was drowning and needed a hand. I am SO grateful to Susan Sandberg and Lianna Sisinni who were not only the “Adoption Ever After” producers, but (sometimes…and usually) my therapists as well!
I am SO grateful to Laura Pierson, my forever sister who ALWAYS supports me.
I am SO grateful to Tracy Verna, who held this ship upright and always kept her door open for me (in the good and bad moments.)
I am SO grateful for the lifelong friendships I’ve made (there’s too many to count-but you know who you are!)
AND I’m SO grateful for our amazing viewers. Without your support all these years, we wouldn’t be where we are. Thank you for always believing in us, writing to us, praying for us and allowing us to be in your homes.