For the past four years, the only toys written on Amara Ostenson’s birthday wish lists have been for chewing and chasing, much to the delight of the dogs and cats of the Humane Society of Barron County.
Amara, 10, asks family and friends to gift her animal shelter necessities, which she then donates.
This year’s haul amounted to about $250 worth of pet supplies.
Amara’s generosity began when her grandfather adopted a dog, Wrigley, from the shelter.
Her mom, Jodie, said Amara couldn’t believe there were unwanted animals, and when she heard the shelter needed kitten milk, she asked for it for her birthday.
The next year, she asked for all of her gifts to be shelter related: dog food, cat food, treats, litter, toys, garbage bags, blankets and gift cards.
“It feels really great to give animals what they need,” she said, riling up about eight kittens before being scratched.
But that, she admitted, comes with the territory.
Amara’s family supports her affinity for animals to the point where her father, Ryan, allergic to cats, will bravely sit in a rocking chair as a cat climbs on him.
The Ostensons have five animals at home.
Amara named their hamster, Meeka.
Their fish, Otis, is in good waters; Jodie said she once had a carnival fish live for 20 years.
Fish are popular. The family currently has five or six in their freezer/morgue waiting for a more respectable burial than seven laps around the toilet.
They have two cats, Hermy and Bailey — who was adopted secretly pregnant and had kittens in the undercarriage of a stroller.
The family also has Max, their white lab.
One animal Amara said she’s always wanted is a horse, but she has a deal where she rides at a local stable in exchange for shoveling out stalls.
Her favorite animal? All of the above.
Amara sees a future as a veterinarian. She watches animal vets on television and likes to observe animal behavior in the wild when she goes hunting with her dad.
One day she will use her vet skills, but that’s going to take some school, which, as the family left the Barron shelter, it was time to shop for.
But first, Amara said, “I want to walk a dog.”