In winter of 2010 I happened across an advertisement in the local paper featuring an opportunity to get my dog’s picture with Santa. My husband and I had adopted our crazy boxer, Lucy, from the Cheyenne Animal Shelter that spring and the idea of getting my fur-baby’s picture with the man in red was just too good to pass up. So, on a cold and windy Saturday I coerced my husband and dog to go check out this Merry Mutt Fair thing. We were warmly greeted by a table of volunteers from BDAR and then quickly learned that Lucy was not a fan of Mutt Fairs, crowded buildings, or Santa pictures. Thanks to a seasoned Santa we were able to get the picture, and still proudly display the image of our rather unhappy dog every Christmas season.
It all started with one phone call. We had just moved from Israel to Fort Collins, CO and in the flurry of trying to find our way, I decided another rescue dog was in our future. Rosie, our current rescue dog from Jerusalem, couldn’t have disagreed more. She was getting used to the quiet evenings, snowy winters and a new baby. Another pup was the last thing on her mind.
I remember meeting BDAR’s founder Britney Wallesch in the virtual world, long before I met her in person. At the time, we were both active in animal welfare in Wyoming. I was a lawyer living in Laramie and she was a young wife working at a hospital in Cheyenne. We were both volunteers for Best Friends Network. She was managing the local news feed for Best Friends’ Partners Network, and I was one of the writers. She assigned stories to me, and I wrote about animal issues in our geographic area that were posted on a larger website. We were part of a national network of animal advocates.
Guest Post by Gayle M. Irwin
When Black Dog Animal Rescue began nearly ten years ago, creating awareness and establishing partnerships were key ingredients for the organization’s success. Both took time, and though BDAR is now established and known in Cheyenne, the organization is still making in-roads into other communities.
Entering its sixth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.
Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.
In March of 2017, a battered and broken puppy was delivered to the local animal shelter in Cheyenne, WY.
With hideous injuries readily apparent, the shelter quickly realized this puppy needed more specialized care than they could provide. So they called for help. And Angel, as she came to be known, was delivered that same day to Black Dog Animal Rescue. Read her remarkable story and help dogs like her in BDAR's Giving Tuesday campaign.
Do you ever find yourself wondering why people volunteer? Are you interested in volunteering with BDAR?
On July 12th, we held our first "Coffee with the ED" session at Coffee depot in downtown Cheyenne.
BDAR is approaching a ten year anniversary. We have grown from a start up that very few people believed would succeed to a beloved nonprofit organization celebrated across the community.
We've also had time and opportunity to see the strengths and weaknesses in our program, the realities of what an all-volunteer approach can support, and the needs in our community that still aren't being met by available resources.
This Fall, our staff and Board will convene to draft a strategic plan and goals for the next 3-5 years. We're at a crossroads and wondering which way to go. We need the community's feedback and support to decide on a direction and make the leap of faith to move toward it.
That's what the coffee hours are for. They are an open dialogue session, a chance to talk about what's working and what's not, what's sustainable, what the upcoming challenges are, what the resources needed to meet them may be. It's a chance to take a look at our current programs and services and compare them to the needs of the community to see if they align.
Last night's discussion was great, and the half dozen or so people who came and stayed the whole time engaged in a very positive and hopeful dialogue. Topics we covered included:
- The current processes and procedures governing the operation of our volunteer, foster, and adoption programs
- The uncertainty of our current facilities. We may need to leave in Feb. 2019 or we may have the opportunity to expand our occupancy to the entire building. In either case, we'll also need to add our own veterinary services rather than rely exclusively on private partnerships for those.
- The risks and challenges associated with a permanent reliance on volunteer foster families given our rural community and small population.
- Current volunteer needs and limitations we face regarding outreach and education efforts
- Community cat management
- Funding challenges and development strategy
- Advocacy and lobbying
It was a lot of ground to cover in an hour and a half. But it was exactly what we were hoping for . We came away from it with some new connections, some new volunteers, some new points of view.
We are going to continue the conversation again in August. Please join us on Wednesday the 16th, again from 5:30 - 7:00pm. We'd like to thank our friends at Coffee Depot for creating a welcoming space for us and others in the community to gather.
See you then.
Save the date!
The 2017 Bark and Wine date has been set for Friday, October 6th.
Honoring BDAR's Founding dog, Kajsa, featuring a special keynote by Britney Wallesch, and live music by The Randy Burghardt Band.
Friday, October 6th
The Raddisson, Cheyenne
More details to come!