Get out and 'Swing Your Tail'

Animal shelter benefit is a chance to dress up and strut your stuff

By Ariana Kramer
Posted 11/26/19

Stray Hearts Animal Shelter brings back the Golden Twenties with a 1920s style, black and white themed dance party to help out stray cats and dogs in Taos County.

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Get out and 'Swing Your Tail'

Animal shelter benefit is a chance to dress up and strut your stuff


Stray Hearts Animal Shelter brings back the Golden Twenties with a 1920s style, black and white themed dance party to help out stray cats and dogs in Taos County.

Its "Swing Your Tail" benefit features the lively and dapper Taos band Big Swing Theory, setting the mood with their upbeat swing music. Wear your best beaded, fringed and fancy flapper attire, and don't forget the purr-ls. Not your style? Then, get decked out in a suit and tails. Either way, it will be a fun event raising much-needed funds to support Taos' no-kill animal shelter and adoption facility.

"We expect people to come and dress up in their best costumes," Donna Karr, president of the board of Stray Hearts Animal Shelter, told me.

The party

"Swing Your Tail" takes place Wednesday (Dec. 4) from 6-10 p.m. at Old Martina's Hall, 4140 State Road 68 in Ranchos de Taos. Tickets are $20 at the door or in advance at Stray Hearts Animal Shelter, Unleashed, 10,000 Wags and Blue Sky Pet.

And, if you are fashion-shy, don't worry. Despite Karr's call to action, the poster for the event assures us that costumes are optional.

However, before you let yourself completely off the hook, you might consider that Big Swing Theory, a jump blues, blues and swing band, boasts some of Taos' best dressed players. Big Swing Theory is Jackson Price (vocals, guitar), Conrad Cooper (upright bass, vocals), Jeremy Jones (saxophone, vocals) and Max Moulton (drums).

In addition to the dance, there will be a silent auction, two raffles and a professional photographer on hand.

The silent auction is curated by local artist Jeremy Landau - and he has gathered an exceptional collection of black and white art by Taos artists, including Rob Nightingale, David Kennedy, Michael Gorman, Scott Messick, Gary Pikarsky, Terry Fiala, Helen Gene Nichols and more.

A beautiful squash blossom necklace with turquoise from the King Manassa Mine will be raffled off with $10 raffle tickets. The necklace was purchased at the Indian Market in Santa Fe 45 years ago, and has been valued by jeweler Larry Martínez at $1,400-$1,600. A second raffle with $1 tickets gets the winner 50 percent of the pot, with the other 50 percent going to Stray Hearts.

Taos photographer Andrew Yates will be taking portraits throughout the evening for the cost of $15. Proceeds will benefit Stray Hearts.

A cup of tea with cats

If you ask me, there is nothing quite as cozy as a cup of tea and a cat in your lap. We are lucky here in Taos that we can now enjoy both at the new cat café opening up in the new ReTails shop at 1204 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, El Prado. Both the store and café will be run by Stray Hearts to raise ongoing operating funds for the shelter.

ReTails will specialize in used home and office furniture, art, jewelry and home decor, taking over a niche left by the recent closure of Pieces consignment store. In opening the resale store, Karr told me that Stray Hearts was careful to try to stay out of niches, such as used clothing, that are already occupied by others in the community.

"We're all in this together and we all need to raise money and we wanted to be sure we weren't in direct competition," said Karr.

The Cat Café will have a $5 admission charge with free tea, coffee, snacks and Wi-Fi. There will be four to five cats in the café at a time, and all of them will be adoptable. The café will help to socialize them, while providing customers with feline companionship.

Karr noted that many Taos rentals are not pet-friendly. The cat café is a fun way that people, who may not have their own cats, can interact with the animals. Frequent visitors can even buy a punch card.

The grand opening for ReTails resale store and cat café is at Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. Stray Hearts is accepting donations for the store, and people are welcome to stop by the store in the afternoons from Tuesday-Saturday.

Kittens, puppies and dogs

Stray Hearts is overflowing with cats, kittens, dogs and puppies available for adoption. According to Karr, the shelter currently has 110 dogs and 140 cats, and they are over capacity. If you have room for a new animal in your home and heart, stop by Stray Hearts during their visiting hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Wednesdays.

I asked Conrad Cooper, of Big Swing Theory, about the dog he recently took home from Stray Hearts. Cooper adopted a dog Grover (originally named Beetle).

"He is joining the two cats from Stray Hearts we adopted a couple of years ago," commented Cooper. "I value and appreciate Stray Hearts as an organization and the people who work there and those who support it through donations. I would highly encourage other people in the community to contribute financially and to adopt a pet (or three) from Stray Hearts."

Cooper added, "We love our little dog Grover who is sweet, smart, and eager to learn. He has quickly learned how to sit, lay down, fetch a ball, dance, and other tricks. He is a wonderful addition to the family. The previous dog I got from Stray Hearts, Honeydog, was with me for 14 years. I am proud that we are going to play music for the fundraiser. Come join us!"

Karr stresses that spaying and neutering pets is critical to limiting pet overpopulation. There are many resources available for free or low-cost spaying/neutering services (see sidebar).

Volunteers are needed at the shelter, and at the new resale shop. In addition, foster families are needed to take care of cats, kittens, dogs and puppies. Contact Stray Hearts at (575) 758-2981. The shelter is located at 1200 Saint Francis Lane, off Salazar Road in Taos.


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