May 18, Austin
Austin Pets Alive!
1156 W. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin
The LOVE SAVES THE DAY National Shelter tour wrapped up its mini-tour of the great state of Texas with two events in Austin--one with Shadow Cats on Friday the 17th, and one with Austin Pets Alive! on the 18th. As you'll see from the description below, Shadow Cats and APA are two very different organizations, but they're both equally remarkable. Rather than the usual blog post, I've pressed my husband/professional interviewer Laurence Lerman into service to conduct these wrap-ups Q&A style, so scroll down for more info on how the tour stop went--and don't forget to follow the tour's Pinterest page for dozens more pictures of each stop!
Laurence: And so the Texas sojourn continues, beginning with getting up fresh and early and heading onto I-35 to Austin from Dallas.
Gwen: A nice enough drive, yes?
Laurence: Oh, yeah. Feeling McQueen and motoring along. And I couldn’t complain about our Whataburger—we passed so many of them that we had to give it a shot. And that Monterey Melt was awesome. Mustard and jalapeno ranch dressing on a burger. Who would thunk it?
Gwen: Breakfast of champions!
Laurence: I was really digging the radio – a nice mix, from Zeppelin to Siouxsie to U2. Gotta tell you though, I think my favorite was that Houston station Country Legends 97.1.
Gwen: I didn’t know you were such a country boy.
Laurence: When in Rome, right?
Gwen: We didn’t hear much country music in Austin proper, though. That, by the way, was my attempt at a smooth segue into talking about the Austin tour stop.
Laurence: Very smooth. Man, it was a busy weekend there!
Gwen: University of Texas graduation!
Laurence: There’s twenty thousand extra people that we weren’t expecting to be all over town.
Gwen: I’m sure they all did their best to help keep Austin weird!
Laurence: A cute slogan, but I guess it fits. Austin was definitely different from Dallas and Houston. Younger and more self-consciously "hip," I suppose.
Gwen: But was it really that “weird?”
Laurence: Not as weird as that guy who hangs out on our corner in New YOrk and sings “Never Say Goodbye” at the top of his lungs every day.
Gwen: Not to mention our neighbor who takes his parrot out for a daily constitutional every summer afternoon. Remind me to dig up a picture of him to post with this.
Laurence: Consider yourself reminded.
Gwen: I meant you should remind me, like, later—but thanks!
Laurence: So the Austin tour stop was actually two stops. The first was at Shadow Cats in Round Rock, just outside Austin.
Gwen: Shadow Cats may be the most interesting stop yet. It’s more a sanctuary than a shelter per se. They take in ferals and cats who are FeLV or FIV positive, which means they’re not likely candidates for adoption. But they get plenty of love at Shadow Cats!
Laurence: They have about 80 cats, right? It’s hard to believe you could have so many cats in a private home.
Gwen: And you think three is a lot! But, seriously, Shadow Cats is actually located in a private home, and the owners have obviously invested a lot of time, money, and love in creating numerous rooms and screened-in outdoor spaces and cat runs for these cats. It may be the most drop-dead gorgeous facility we’ve seen thus far. (Shameless plug: check out the Shadow Cats board on the tour’s Pinterest page to see for yourself!) I ended up doing a reading for three volunteers and a bunch of FeLV+ kitties in one of the rooms, and the reading was livestreamed through the Shadow Cats website. So I was reading in one room, and about 40 people were hanging out in the other room watching me read on camera! And I think there were a couple thousand who watched the broadcast on the Shadow Cats website.
Laurence: The Shadow Cats stop was definitely the most unique gig in Texas. And a helluva lot different than the Austin Pets Alive! stop.
Gwen: Oh yes. Quite a facility at APA!
Laurence: It was another great day, and probably the hottest day on our Texas trip. It kicked off with breakfast at Snack Bar on Congress Avenue. A more traditional option than Whataburger.
Gwen: And great biscuits!
Laurence: I think I had too much coffee for such a hot day. By the time we got to APA at noon, I was dripping.
Gwen: APA is a lot of outdoor space with breezeways and outdoor kennels, so it was scorching! But the room where I read was inside and air-conditioned, so it ended up being fine. It was a real thrill to be at APA because they’ve done some amazing work. Austin is now over 90% no-kill—the first major US city to hit that statistic—and it’s largely due to APA’s efforts.
Laurence: I’m glad we wrapped up the day with some good old barbecue.
Gwen: Our last Texas barbecue! We left for the airport back to New York bright and early the next morning.
Laurence: I know they have barbecue in New York, but it’s everywhere in Texas. And I’m psyched that [our friends who live in Austin] Sam and Jamie took us to Salt Lick, which seemed like the real McCoy. Outdoors, and with a really twangy country band!
Gwen: Brisket, ribs, sausage, corn bread. You looked like you were in heaven!
Laurence: I must have been – I bought heaven back to the hotel with me in the form of barbecue sauce all over my shirt.
Gwen: And on your chin.
Laurence: Yeah, thanks for not telling me about that until I saw it in the bathroom mirror. I was wondering why the girl at the front desk was looking at me strangely.
Gwen: Just trying to keep Austin weird, baby!