On Valentine’s weekend in 2005, Alyssa took on a project for Girl Scouts. I think she would have been happy to do this project regardless of the Bronze Award, but that was her catalyst.
Alyssa had two dogs at the time: Hank, our People Pleaser, and Tasha, our Polar Bear. Because of her involvement with the local 4H club, she met Katrina, a Border Collie Rescue volunteer and the Volunteer Coordinator for the local Humane Society. Katrina taught the kids basic dog obedience classes. Hank excelled – he’s such a smart dog. But Tasha is a Great Pyrenees/Anatolian, and, just not that interested in learning. From what we read about her breed, she only tolerated human’s input. Not that she wasn’t a fierce protector – she was! But she thought she knew what was best for us, and that completely directed her behavior.
This project was quite a feat for, then 11, Alyssa. She did a lot of work with Katrina to promote the event. She appeared on a couple of local news programs (with Katrina) carrying very cute animals up for adoption. She made signs and bought decorations. She even crafted catchy little personal ads for the dogs, which hung outside their cages.
“FiFi, a beautiful poodle, loves long walks on the beach and cuddling.”
She and her fellow Girl Scouts, wearing matching pink bandanas with red hearts that Alyssa picked out, would go get the dogs (who also wore the pink/heart bandanas) and bring them to meet their prospective new owner. Overall, the event was a huge success – an unusually high number of dogs found homes that weekend.
I was (and still am!) so proud of her. She followed her passion, put a lot of work into it, and made the world a better place!
Here’s what it says:
Pets at the Humane Society on the prowl for homes
Listen up, fellas.
Her personal ad says she’s a small, colorful lady with a passion for life – a real firecracker.
Likes: shopping and playing with toys.
Dislikes: yards without fences and sitting still.
She bounced around her cage at the Humane Society Saturday, wearing a bandana and looking pitiful. Bridget’s a young rat terrier mix.
All the dogs howl for attention, begging potential masters to read their personal ads, hanging from the cages. Apparently, one dog dislikes kids. Another has a thing for sunsets. One Dachshund named Burt seems to be a good catch, as long as you don’t call him a Weenie Dog.
It really was a doggy dating service. Saturday was a special Valentine’s Day adoption drive called,
“Heart to Heart – Finding your Pawsitively Purrfect Match.”
The little personal ads capture the growing sentiment among many people that pets are more than just keepers of the back yard, volunteer coordinator Katrena Mitchell said. They’re companions for life – a wife for a single man, a sister for an only child or the son an old couple could never have.
“People come in calling their dogs ‘pookie’ and ‘sweetie’ and ‘dumpling’ – and those aren’t their names, ” Mitchell said. “that’s their term of endearment. We see them as real companions.”
The idea of animals as soul-mates spawned the idea of this special matchmaker themed adoption day. Like finding a wife or a husband, the workers at the Humane Society help visitors choose the right pet so the relationship doesn’t end in divorce.
“We try to match the dogs with your personality type and lifestyle,” Mitchell said. “If you live in an apartment, you don’t want a very active dog. If you have small children, you don’t want a tiny dog since kids will mistake them for toys sometimes.”
Mitchell reported 12 adoptions at the end of the day – 11 dogs and 1 cat. It was a great turnout for a Saturday, so they’ll do it again next year.
Much of the success can be attribu
ted to Alyssa Patterson, a Girl Scout working toward the prestigious Junior Bronze Award. She’s an animal lover who dedicated hours of work to decorating the Humane Society and recruiting other Scouts to help with the adoptions. They dressed up the dogs with bandanas an put ribbons on the cages. Patterson, who has more pets than she can remember, said she chose this project out of a deep love of animals.
“I want to find homes for the animals that don’t have homes,” Patterson said. “Hank, my dog, he’s my soulmate. I want others to feel that way too.”
** Hank & Tasha Update:
We still have Hank, he’s nearly 13 years old, a little hard of hearing and needs meds for his joints. But he’s still a People Pleaser. Tasha, came with us when we sold the ranch, but was never going to adapt well to suburban life. She is living a fabulous life on several acres with some friends of ours in Wimberly.
I’m not really sure why I’m sharing this post today. It’s been sitting in my draft file for a long time. I think I wanted to share it last Valentine’s Day, but somehow I forgot! Surprise Surprise! So, it’s going in now. With all the recent attention on the dogs in our life, why not?!