Whatever you do, don’t try to get a hold of me on Sunday. I’ll be busy. All day. And by the time I get home, I’ll be dog tired (literally), hot and bothered. But I’ll also be happy.
On Sunday, I’ll spend the entire day shooting the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival, which will be held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT. Hosted by Adopt-a-Dog, the event is billed as the biggest of its kind between New York and Boston and benefits several local animal rescue and welfare groups.
In addition to raising money and awareness for worthy causes, the festival gives animal lovers a chance to meet some of the dogs and cats that are available for adoption. It also gives dogs and their people a chance to show off by participating in various contests.
This will be the fifth straight year I’ve volunteered at the event. And personally, I’m looking forward to hanging out in the cat pavilion, photographing the action in the demonstration rings and on stage, and checking out the silent auction.
On that note, I’d better run. Hopefully I’ll see you on Sunday. If not, don’t call me. I’ll call you!
This has got to go down as one of the most turbulent weeks in recent American history. There were acts of terrorism in Minnesota, New York and New Jersey. Riots broke out in Charlotte after a yet another police shooting.
But there was one day when thousands of people came together for a good cause in Greenwich, Connecticut. That was on Sunday. And I was there.
This was the fourth year that I had the honor and privilege of photographing the action in the demonstration rings at the Puttin’ On the Dog & Cats Too festival at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park. Hosted by Adopt-A-Dog, the local animal shelter where I volunteer, the event attracts pet owners and animal lovers from the Tri-State Area.
At the festival, pooches participate in various competitions including a costume contest. Their owners can check out the latest pet supplies and pet foods available from the vendors on site. Most importantly, the host organization along with other area animal rescue and welfare groups, get to introduce some of the dogs and cats available for adoption to the general public.
This year, FURRR 911 brought several young cats and kittens to the event. Based in Westchester County, NY, FURRR 911 specializes in rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing young cats and kittens most in need of help. Their stories are heartbreaking and heartwarming.
There’s Chance. He was thrown out of a building in New York City. And there’s TumbeLina, who was born with a disorder that affects her balance. There’s another little kitten who is missing an eye. And then there are those who were simply born into feral colonies.
They are all bundles of cuteness. They are all in need of good homes. And to be honest, if I didn’t have my hands full with Eli (a big bundle of cuteness in his own right) I probably would have adopted one or two.
As it stands, I can only hope that some of them will end up in good homes. In fact, I hope that all of the dogs and cats available for adoption will end up in homes where they know nothing but love and kindness. They deserve nothing less.
If all goes according to plan, the first entry for our brand new blog, Paws for Thought, will appear on Adopt-a-Dog’s website March 31. Of course, a lot could happen to delay or even derail the project between now and then. Then again, there’s always the chance that everything will go smoothly. Personally, nothing would make me happier.
Coming to the Rescue
For those of you who haven’t heard of the organization, I can tell you that it’s one of the most awesome non-profit organizations for which I have ever had the pleasure of volunteering. Based in Armonk, N.Y., its mission is to rescue, provide shelter and then and find “forever homes” for dogs of all ages and breeds.
Doing so is more than a full-time job for the staff at Adopt-a-Dog. It is a labor of love.
The happiness and well-being of each dog that comes to the shelter is paramount, so each one is carefully evaluated upon arrival. With assessments in hand, the staff then ensures that each dog’s needs are fully addressed. Among other things, that means making sure that all of the dogs get proper medical care and those that have behavioral issues get to work with a trainer. All of the dogs get to participate in “enrichment activities” with volunteers and staff.
Anyone interested in adopting a dog is also thoroughly “vetted” before they can bring their new friend home. The process usually begins when someone comes to an event or visits the adoptions page on the organization’s website to see if there are any dogs they’d like to meet. Sometimes they phone the shelter to see if any puppies are available or if they are interested in a specific breed. In any case, they must fill out an application and make an appointment to come to the shelter in order to meet the dog(s).
As part of the application process, prospective adopters must provide references, all of which are checked. In some cases — usually when the applicant has another pet — staff will conduct home visits before the adoption is finalized.
If you ask anyone at Adopt-a-Dog, they’ll quickly admit that well-trained volunteers are key to the shelter’s success. While most volunteers help out at the shelter itself, a lot also lend a hand at special events. Some, like me, volunteer in multiple capacities. I do administrative office tasks at the shelter once per week, and do reference checks at adoption events when needed. I also photograph special events like the annual Howl and Prowl costume contest and Puttin’ on the Dog show here in Greenwich. Now I’ll also be doing some Pro Bono blogging.
One way or another it all adds up to a lot of hard work. But it’s also a blast, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.