Random Musings on Dogs, Photography, and the Vagaries of Life

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Okay, let’s be honest. Although many dogs tolerate it and a small handful appear to even enjoy it, the overwhelming majority of dogs don’t particularly like the whole Halloween dress up thing.

Their people on the other hand seem the get quite a kick out of seeing their canine companions don costumes…even if only for as long as it takes to snap a photo to share with friends and family. And I’m certainly no exception.

Over the years, I’ve subjected my dogs to a wide variety of costumes, from cows and bumble bees to jesters and spiders to hard-hatted “workdogs” and even Snow White.

This year, however, members of my personal pack got a reprieve as I focused on some of the adorable adoptable dogs at the Washington Animal Rescue League. It seemed a logical way of promoting today’s special “Howl-o-ween” adoption event.

The dogs below may not have been as excited about the experience as I was, but if a few minutes of embarrassment helps them find their forever homes, I suspect they’ll forgive me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Celebrating Fall with Fundraisers for Animals

Autumn is a time of pumpkins, cider, falling leaves...and dog-related events. At least that seems to be the case for those of us involved in animal welfare causes. For me, three such events occurred during successive weekends. The first was a Puptoberfest celebration organized by Eleventh Hour Rescue in Rockaway, NJ; the second, a the 25th anniversary party of the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George's County (PGSPCA) in Clinton, MD; and the third, a Bark and Bowl fundraiser in Bethesda, MD, for the National Canine Cancer Foundation.

My involvement at each event was different. I sold and signed copies of my books Black is Beautiful: A Celebration of Dark Dogs and A is for Angel: A Dog Lover's Guide to the Alphabet at Puptoberfest, with profits going to Eleventh Hour Rescue, an organization that has found homes for some 5000 animals since 2004. Photos of these animals were displayed on an eight-sided (four sides, inside and out) covered wall at the event.

It was my first time at Puptoberfest, which has grown over several years from an event that began with fewer than 100 participants to one that regularly draws more than 1000. With vendors, activities, food, adoptable animals, and a fantabulous band, it should serve as a model for other organizations, like the PGSPCA.

While the recent PGSPCA celebration was held specifically to commemorate 25 years of caring and working for animals in Prince George's County, MD, I'm hoping it will lay the groundwork for yearly celebrations for our volunteers, adopters of our foster animals, and other area animal lovers.

Those of us on the planning committee had a good plan, complete with food, games and contests for humans and their canine companions, prizes, raffle baskets, and advance promotion. What we didn't have was good weather...a critical element for a primarily outdoor event. Rain kept most people at home, and those of us who braved the elements were confined to a park shelter. Still, my fellow humans and I enjoyed food, drink, and good conversation, while the canine participants explored the agility tunnel and played some scent-oriented games.

The most recent animal-related event in which I was involved--the Bark and Bowl--was completely different from the other two. As the name suggests, it centered on bowling. The goal: to raise money for the National Canine Cancer Foundation to fund grants on research on the prevention and cure of canine cancers. Teams comprised of business colleagues, members of non-profit organizations, or just groups of friends collected dononations from sponsors ahead of time and then tested their skills on the lanes of Bowlmor Lanes in Bethesda. Money from raffle tickets and the sale of food, drinks, and NCCF merchandise also supported the fundraising efforts.

I can't speak for the majority of participants, but my team mates and I had a blast...despite some less-than-stellar bowling scores. Actually, my husband, Mark, although he prefers duck pin, held his own admirably. But even his three strikes in a row couldn't offset my series of gutter balls. Oh, well...I drowned my sorrows with a "fizzy French bulldog" and called it a day, happy to have been part of such a worthwhile fundraiser.

Now? Now, I'm taking a break from the "event" circuit and enjoying weekends at home with those I love. Oh, and cleaning walls and baseboards in preparation for the painters' arrival next week.