by Becky Teal
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.
That fateful day I learned about a network of animal lovers I didn’t know existed in my hometown, and quickly signed up to be a new foster home. We ended up being a puppy foster home as our resident dog didn’t agree to sharing her home with other adult dogs. And one puppy was all it took, I was hooked! I helped organize that spring’s Bark & Wine at a downtown art gallery, worked adoption drives on the weekends, screened applications and did home visits for potential adopters, and made a wonderful new group of friends in the process.
Back then BDAR was an entirely volunteer run organization and I have no idea how Britney, Beth, and others kept up their tireless efforts. BDAR’s day to day operations were managed during weekends, evenings, and lunch hours. The volunteer network at BDAR was, and still is, an absolutely amazing group of people united by a common love of animals.
Up until October of 2011 Britney’s home served as BDAR’s offices, storage, and physical location. So, when Britney approached the Board of Directors with a reasonably priced building for rent it was an easy yes. It was a small, cozy building that needed a LOT of TLC. Once again, the mighty BDAR army of volunteers arrived with hammers and demo equipment in tow. Within a few weeks new walls were built, fresh paint applied, and BDAR finally had an official business address. That first office created a place for potential adopters to come meet their new family members and gave volunteers a place to work together to create a better Wyoming.
One of my favorite BDAR tales involves a lovable little dog, Veda, who managed to escape her foster home in March of 2012. An army of volunteers canvased the neighborhood near her foster home, other volunteers made phone calls and emails to businesses and neighbors, and when the escapee was finally spotted yet another group of volunteers braved the cold to run Veda down at dusk in a field of horses. Yes, Veda had befriended a herd of horses out in east Cheyenne and as we trudged through the field to catch her the horses escorted her back to us.
BDAR wasn’t always easy, occasionally working with animals causes you to see the worst of humanity. One set of foster puppies arrived from a hoarding situation, and my husband and I ended up fostering a set of sisters we called Veronica and Betty. I arrived at the adoption center to pick them up expecting fat little puppies and instead found skinny, cowering, smelly little dogs covered in filth. A bath helped the smelly part, but it quickly became obvious that these puppies had not spent much time around people. They were terrified of everything, and struggled to handle even the most basic social situations. Veronica warmed up fast and was adopted within a month, but Betty remained with us for four months before being adopted by a wonderful family. During her time with us she grew braver and eventually even won the queen dog Lucy over, earning herself a spot in our bed.
During my time at BDAR I served on the Board of Directors, ran adoption drives, organized fundraisers, ran dogs to countless appointments, received enough puppy kisses for a lifetime, laughed, cried, and helped create families. Sadly, I had to move away from Wyoming in May of 2013 but my time with BDAR helped me become a better person and an advocate for animals everywhere. I am proud to have been a part of such an outstanding organization, and am so impressed to see BDAR grow into a community and industry influencer. Congratulations on 10 years, I can’t wait to see where the next 10 take you!