Remembering Eula Houston

By Kathleen Beaver, President & CEO

If you think about it, our lives are the ongoing construction of a big patchwork quilt. Each patch or square is a dream, a friendship, a moment or a joy that, woven together, tells the story of our lives.

The quilt of Eula Houston is certainly a prized tapestry.

Eula was a part of the Animal Friends organization for more than 60 years. Sadly, COVID-19 took Eula from us quite unexpectedly in mid-December.

As our beloved kennel manager for so many years, Eula was the firm, compassionate leader that ensured each and every one of our residents was treated as family. Anyone who worked for or with Eula felt the same – we knew we were part of her very special family.

Friend and long-time co-worker Ray Mauder summed it up this way, “Eula embodied the word compassion. Whether it was ‘her kids’ as she called her staff, a distraught person who had just lost a beloved pet or a fearful animal, Eula had the grace and wisdom to bring peace to the situation.”

Dottie Nepereny, a volunteer for 40 years, has so many wonderful memories of Eula. “One that resonates most is about the holiday party that Eula planned for the dog walking volunteers when Animal Friends was located in the Strip District. The volunteers showed up in their holiday dress only to find that the party was being held in the kennel amongst the dog cages. And before any celebrating could happen, every volunteer was expected to walk the dogs – holiday attire and all. Yes, Eula had her priorities right.  It was always the animals first.”

After her retirement in 2018, Eula continued as one of our Vaccine Clinic volunteers. She was part of a tight-knit team of ladies who faithfully worked these clinics to ensure those who were struggling most received the affordable care their pets so desperately needed. Even into her 80’s, Eula would help owners with misbehaving pets, provide gentle advice or replace a frayed rope for a properly fitting collar and leash. Twin sisters Lois and Shirley Placke worked alongside Eula for years at these clinics. In Eula they found “a passionate animal lover, dedicated advocate for those who had nowhere else to turn and a dear friend” whom they sorely miss.

Recently retired staff member Beth Mauder spoke for so many of us when she recounted that her favorite thing to do has always been “just to sit and talk with Miss Eula.” She always made her smile.

We all miss Eula. We all miss her stories and her laughter. And, we always have “poop bags” in every coat pocket because of her.

Because there are simply so many stories that so many have to share, we can’t think of a better way to honor Eula than to host an afternoon of storytelling later this year when we can safely come together. All will be invited to share – remotely or in person – at the celebration.

Together, we will weave a beautiful tapestry of love and compassion and put the finishing touches on the Quilt of Eula.


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