EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: EFA MEMBER iNTERViEW… ScrappyRat by Rebecca of KneeDeepOriginals

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

EFA MEMBER iNTERViEW… ScrappyRat by Rebecca of KneeDeepOriginals

Writer and Animal Advocate 
by Rebecca of KneeDeepOriginals

Veronica Noechel is a writer and a former dog trainer before her spine “melted (luck of the genetic draw”), as she says. 

So far, her books have all been collections of poetry. Gone, published by Foothills Press, is her most recent and is for sale in her Etsy shop. Animal imagery is core to her writing, and this book, as implied by the name, was composed after some pretty devastating, rapid-fire losses. Veronica says that Foothills did a beautiful job with the book, complete with hand-stitched bindings.

Gone, A Book of Poetry

Veronica also wrote a cook book called Yummy for Dogs that features nearly 100 pages of homemade dog treat and special occasion recipes. "I had a lot of help from my own dogs and the willing taste-testers at the vet clinic kennel where I worked at the time." 

Yummy for Dogs, a Recipe Book

Veronica is a strong animal advocate and fosters small animals for an area rescue organization, Carolina Pet Rescue, “so I usually have a few rodents around the house to inspire my work.” At the moment, it's a pair of hairless rats, if anyone is looking for a pair of sweet, albeit funny-looking, companions to adopt. www.cpr-nc.org


When asked if she owns any pets, Veronica’s response is rather humorous.  She says, “Of course! How could I not, after working in rescue for so many years? Sooner or later, a foster or two (or three...) will insist upon staying for good.” Currently, she has in permanent residence at her home:

Two cats… Toulouse and Violet.  Both born to feral mothers, they nonetheless evolved into some startlingly cuddly cats. Toulouse is enormous and orange, Violet petite and mackerel tabby. Violet was found under a shed by the dog when she was just four weeks old, so she has a few residual mommy issues, despite being an adult. When she's tired she will suck on her toe like little kids suck their thumbs, and she'll make tiny kitten noises to let Veronica know she needs cuddling to sleep. Veronica admits that it's pretty darn adorable.

One dog… Usagi is a rat terrier someone dumped on a highway about 15 years ago. She's “our little White Buffalo” since she will never go around something if she can plow right through it.

Chinchilla Rescue Pendant

One chinchilla… Pelt came from the city pound about 10 years ago. She used to go with Veronica to do anti-fur talks and the like, hence her name. Veronica explains about the plight of chinchillas: “Fur chinchillas are taken from the same breeding mills as pet ones, so the fact that she's here with me, vs. anally electrocuted years ago, is totally luck of the draw. It's some brutal stuff to think about.” Pelt loves to play "trick-the-dumb-human" and get into anything she's not supposed to, so Veronica has to keep everything in her room chin-proofed for her safety.

Two turtles (also rescues)… Walter  and Jebediah. Walter is a yellow-bellied slider, found by Veronica’s dad when she was a little girl. Walter has been with her for about 35 years now. Veronica explains that this type of turtle is aquatic and often can be bought at the beach. She says, “I wish they'd stop selling these animals completely. People are rarely prepared to take care of such a long-lived animal with its special needs.”  Veronica’s other turtle, Jebediah, came from the animal shelter. He was an adult when he was found abandoned in an apartment when the tenants ran out on their rent. He loves to eat and has quite the eclectic palate for a turtle. He loves treats from radicchio to apple slices to bits of tofu pups. He gets all excited any time he hears the cutting board being pulled out, knowing a fruit or veggie snack is on its way.

Veronica also has degus, which are sometimes called 'Chilean Squirrels'. They look a bit like a cross between an overgrown gerbil and a guinea pig, and are more wild animal than pet. There is very little reliable information out there regarding proper care. They're a long-lived rodent, extremely difficult to identify by sex (so it's easy to end up with "oops" litters), they need a lot of space and aren't super interested in humans (though some are more than others). Proper diets aren't easy to find for them, and they absolutely must be kept in groups or they will self-mutilate. Veronica has created a degutopia for her because she has ended up adopting many of them over the years since it's hard to place them in appropriate homes. Though Veronica wishes these animals weren’t sold as pets (believing, first-hand experience, of course, that they benefit much from being kept as pets), she says that one thing they do that is absolutely beyond cute is the way they "talk" all the time. They make these beeping and booping sounds to each other.

WOW!  That’s a lot of pets… and a huge variety too!  This is, actually, the fewest animals Veronica has had in many years, but she says, “Since my back fell to bits, I've had to limit myself and not adopt more when they pass on. I have a good number now for my abilities (with the generous help of my husband), and knowing your limits is an important part of being a responsible guardian.”

Veronica also tries to use her writing to educate and advocate for animals. “Yes,” she explains, “I am one of those nuts who writes to their legislators on a regular basis.” She makes an effort to stay on top of the issues so she can write letters to the editor and contact companies that need a push in the right direction. She also gives at least 10% of her profits from her Etsy shop to  EFA’s Charity of the Month and has several 100% charity donation items in her store, including her cook book. Many of her Etsy listings have a pro-animal and animal advocacy message as well.

Give a Dog a Bone, a Colorful Pin

FAVORITE ANIMAL? Well, if you couldn’t guess from Veronica’s shop name, she is partial to rats, but it’s understandable, because she was born under the Year of the Rat. And, Veronica says, “the Newberry award winning book that year was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and the movie Ben came out then, too. Lousy movie, but with the sweetest song about a rat, ever. So I think I'm somewhat destined to identify with them. They're social, they're clever, they're survivors. I'd like to think some of that has rubbed off on me. They're also jumpy and nervous, which I know I got a healthy (er..unhealthy) dose of.”

Happy Rat Matchbook Cards


Scrappy Rat Designs “is the perfect place to find something special for the animal nut in your life, like your friend who takes her dog absolutely *everywhere*, or your vegan in-laws, your pet sitter who always goes above and beyond, the trainer who taught your dog to stop standing on the dining room table, your favorite vet who's always got a pocket full of cat treats, your sister who feeds a feral cat colony, or your boyfriend whose spare bedroom doubles as a shelter for the foster rats he picks up from the pound to find a special home for each and every one.”

Grey2K Charity Item

As mentioned earlier, Veronica support EFA’s Charity of the Month, but she also makes special greyhound-themed pins, and she donates all proceeds to Grey2K. She states that “the greyhound racing industry is abusive and exploitative by nature. There's really no way they can do what they do, and turn a profit, and treat the dogs like, well, dogs. It's an industry that treats dogs like a disposable by-product, leading to a glut of animals being poured into a rescue system that already can't help all the dogs who need lifesaving adoptions.”  Etsy for Animals was proud to support Grey2K as our COTM in September, standing with them in their fight to bring an end to this racing industry.

WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT IN YOUR SHOP RIGHT NOW? “Oh wow, well, with the holidays upcoming, I get a lot of custom orders for collaged pet designs as wall-hangings and cards featuring clients' animals. It's busy, but it's fun, too. I love getting to know their pets through photos and the details they provide about their animals' personalities.”

Large ShadowBox Collage

FAVORITE PIECE OF WORK? “That's a tough question, because I try to only make things I would want to purchase if I was shopping in my store. Added bonus: if it doesn't sell, I get to keep it! Whoo hoo!  I go through phases where I'm more inspired to create items featuring one species or another, and right now I'm on a bit of a cat kick. It works well though, since our COTM in October was Alley Cat Allies." Right now, I'm particularly fond of this card set: 

Playful Cats, a Set of Cards


“I'm a writer, so I work on my poems and fiction projects. Here's a link to my writing page, although it's currently undergoing major renovations, so don't judge me too harshly. :)" www.evnoechel.com

"I'm currently torturing myself with the Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) novel-in-a-month challenge. I don't know if I'll get the whole thing done in a month, but it's worth trying." nanowrimo.org/participants/ratgirl You can watch my progress through that link. It's a historical fiction zombie novel tentatively called, "Quiet Sickness". Keep an eye on the site for more to come.

"I also help screen potential charities for the Etsy for Animals COTM program to make sure they're on the up-and-up, so to speak. It's important, with a whole team working together to help these groups, that our efforts don't go to waste." Thank you for being our COTM Co-Leader, Veronica !

Veronica is EFA's COTM Co-Leader !

To learn even more about what Veronica is up to, you can follow these links to find her elsewhere online.


“Just keep creating. The more you add to your shop, the more interest you'll draw. Find your niche and work it and make what you love. If you do all that, the sales will happen, and even when they don't, you'll still have had a good day working.”  Excellent advice, Veronica!  Thanks for sharing it, especially that last part…. It’s a good reminder when the sales are slow!


“Knowledge leads to compassion, leads to a better world for all beings. Learn all you can. Help all you can. And be gentle with yourself. You're a being who deserves compassion, too.”


  1. What a wonderful blog feature- thank you Rebecca and Veronica too ! LOVE it !

  2. Oh I also wanted to say that frompersonal experience i can truly say that ScrappyRat's cards ROCK ! Highly recommended :)

  3. Veronica - you are amazing and inspiring! I can't believe your turtle Walter is 35 years old! Thanks so much for sharing some of yourself with us - truly enjoyed this interview!

  4. Wow, this was a great post! Veronica, you're an inspiration!

  5. What a wonderful profile! Veronica, your work is lovely! :)

  6. Thank you SO much, Rebecca, and to everyone who left such supportive comments. I really appreciate the time taken and the effort made to support myself and my shop! Your kind words mean a lot more than you'd probably think, especially on those days when I'm really sick from the spinal pain and can't see how I'm going to make it through another day. Today happened to be one of those. You guys made me smile and that is such a cool gift. Thanks!

  7. Karen, I'm stealing your words - amazing and inspiring! I knew some of it and always admired how passionate you were, but I'm actually in awe after reading this. Also, I, too, recommend the ScrappyRat's cards from experience. :) Thank you for doing this article, Rebecca.

  8. Wow! I second Karen's word choice of amazing and inspiring. I don't see how you can get so much done. I Googled "degus" and they are really cute. Thanks for all you do for them and the other animals. (PS - love the ScrappyRat cards!)

  9. What a fabulous article! And I love your shop!

  10. Wonderful! enjoyed this very much. I have always admired your shop and what you do. In fact I adore the adopt pins you make. I will be selling at a CF in a few weeks and plan on wearing your pin! going to go purchase one now!


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