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Annie

DEAR JOAN: We have two great cats at the Hayward Animal Shelter who are in need of a Christmas miracle.

Ethal is a 12-year-old gray and white kitty, and Annie is an 18-year-old black and white cat.

The owner who just surrendered them to the shelter was no longer able to care for them. She is moving and can't bring them with her.

She got Ethal and Annie from her job at an animal clinic, when their original owner was unable to afford medical care. She has loved them for more than 12 years.

Both are sweet and affectionate. Annie can be a little grumpy at times, but at 18, she's earned that right.

They need a nice, calm, indoor-only home to live out their remaining years. They both have a lot of love to give.

Annie and Ethal are looking for a home this Christmas.
Annie and Ethal are looking for a home this Christmas. (Hayward Animal Shelter)

One of them needs some dental care and the shelter has assured me that if the two get adopted, they will spring for the procedure. Both are spayed and up-to-date on shots.

Because of their age, most people are afraid to adopt them, thinking that both will go over the Rainbow Bridge in the coming months. Annie has a second strike -- black and white cats are the second hardest color of cats to place, which just seems weird to me.

We're really hoping someone out there will give these kitties another chance.

Christina Gin

Hayward Animal Shelter volunteer

DEAR CHRISTINA: I believe in miracles, and I'm publishing your letter in hopes that Ethal and Annie will get theirs.

True, they won't have years and years to share, but they are no less deserving of a good home. If anyone out there has room in their hearts and homes, we'd all appreciate giving them a home for Christmas.

For information on adopting Ethal and Annie, and other loving pets, go to www.haywardanimals.org, visit them at 16 Barnes Court, Hayward, or call 510-293-7200.

DEAR JOAN: Could you please tell me what spider this is?

I am in the United Kingdom and a staff member saw it in a store room of our gas station. The station is surrounded by fields.

Maybe it came in off a delivery, but there are no fresh produce delivered to this site. The store room is relatively cold as well.

Dawn Cole

South Yorkshire, England

DEAR DAWN: I sent your picture to a spider expert who says it's impossible to be certain, but it appears to be a Scotophaeus blackwalli, also known as a mouse spider. They are part of a large family of ground spiders.

Mouse spider from Britain.
Mouse spider from Britain. (Courtesy of Dawn Cole)

The mouse spider, named because of its stealthy, mouselike movements, is fairly common in Britain. They often are found inside homes and sheds, but also in gardens, on wooden fences or beneath the bark of dead trees.

They aren't dangerous to humans, and because they hunt at night, we rarely have any interaction with them. Instead of spinning webs, they stalk their prey -- mostly insects -- and leap on them.

They also are common along the Pacific Coast, from San Diego up to British Columbia.

DEAR READERS: Just a seasonal reminder to keep your pets away from holiday decorations and food, and to give them a quiet place to relax if it all gets a bit much.

That's not a bad idea for all of us, actually.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com.