Dear Friends and Supporters of Our Extraordinary Dogs!
The dogs and I are hoping to find you well and happy. We have sent out some updates via Mailchimp in the past few months, but for whatever reason (may not be reaching your inbox, etc.), the open rate is less than 40% so we know that some of you are not aware of our “doings.” Also, with Facebook’s constant algorithm adjustments to pressure business pages (including nonprofits) to buy ads, our posts are not being seen in the newsfeed. So, we’re taking advantage of year-end financial housekeeping to update you on our dogs and the status of our organization.
First of all, we want to apologize if this email includes a duplicate tax receipt. When Youcaring was bought by Gofundme, one of our least favorite platforms for fundraising, we decided to use the donor database program for receiving donations. For the most part, it works well by automatically creating or modifying the appropriate donor information in the database, a critical timesaver. The downside is that some of the records have been duplicated (probably because a different credit card was used); so, we are checking and editing what needs to be fixed.
Secondly, we want to share the awesome progress of some of our dogs and the success of our training methods, which received funding from the Harris and Binky Foundations.
- Paulette is currently working on public access protocol. She will be our “program dog” . . . the one who showcases appropriate service and therapy dog skills.
- Brian has been designated my official ‘ranch hand’, since he was the one who pulled me out of a snow drift before I froze to death.
- Molly, one of our adopted dogs, taught herself to be a medical alert dog for her owner.
I continue to be amazed on a daily basis at how talented and devoted these one-time discarded dogs are. Many of them were only minutes away from being destroyed.
Thirdly, we want to let you know that we still need financial help. We have been officially in business for 6 years. Most nonprofits our size (small, especially in comparison to ASPCA and HSUS) close their doors after 3 years, if not sooner. But I personally subsidize from my retirement income so that the dogs always have what they need. The items listed in our online store are all from my personal collection and proceeds go to the dogs. Below are areas where we need help, in order of priority:
- Dog Food Fund . . . we have to order a minimum of $500 of dog food every 2-3 weeks. We are always “in the red” and often feel like we’re “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul” . . . especially when emergencies arise. We have a special promotion for monthly subscribers to our Dog Food program and information can be found here. It’s our way of giving a little something for helping us.
- Kennel Repairs . . . we had some serious snow and wind damage and need replacement covers and panels. Some of these are critical because of upcoming weather. See our Capital Improvements page.
- Hydrotherapy pool . . . we clearly cannot afford a professional setup (min $5000) but we can construct a safe temporary set up for less that we can use year round. Several of our dogs have orthopedic and/or neurological issues, so it’s absolutely critical to offer them gentle movement exercises. More information is located here.
Any help in any of these areas would be so appreciated. To save money, I do all the work in set-up, repair, etc. However, since I am no longer a “spring chicken”, I don’t move as fast as I used to. . . and if I do, it usually results in some kind of injury. I found out the hard way this past Christmas that a broom handle and a rake do not make good crutches. Also, even though the type of training I provide the dogs averages $150 per hour (behavior specialist), I do not pay myself a salary, and the many operational necessities that can nickel and dime an organization to death, come out of my retirement funds.
Finally, I had several personal losses that knocked me off my feet this past year . . . the death of two friends, very near and dear to me, and the death of my beloved border collie, Meggie, who was my first “unofficial” rescue dog 10 years ago. She taught me more about training and emotional health and needs of a dog, than I could ever have learned from a book or in a school. She left on the first day of spring this year, and I still look for her around the corner. . . I so very much miss her by my side. The heart takes time to heal, if ever possible.
We are trying to move more toward a revenue-generating model for the organization, rather than “begging” for money, although at times it becomes necessary. Because so many of our posts are educational and took a lot of time to generate and because part of our mission is education which requires much time and effort spent on research, we will provide access to some of these posts for paying members only at a modest fee of $5 per month . . . who would not give up a Starbuck’s latte per month to save a dog like Brian, Paulette or Molly? The first chapter to our ebook on canine nutrition is here and is free. Future chapters will require membership to access.
Also, I used to provide training and phone consults free of charge if the dog came from an animal control facility. We will be charging a fee for those services. As a promise to my recently deceased friend, Louise, we will start plans for “Annie’s Place,” a dream we both shared. It will focus on a home for dogs whose owners have died and who now have nowhere to go. These dogs are traumatized by grief, need help to mourn, are usually older, and sadly, many times are surrendered to an animal control facility. We plan to look for foundation grants, and once we have a plan in place, we will send out an announcement.
We understand that your inbox is probably flooded with email newsletters. But we ask you to look for ours because we want you to continue to be part of our journey and do not want to lose our connection with you, even if you are no longer in a position to donate. Many of you donated to our campaigns when it was so very critical, so we consider you part of our family. We will be sending our next newsletter after Thanksgiving.
Because it has become so difficult to network on Facebook . . . we are gradually moving toward other platforms for networking such as Twitter, Patreon, personal emails and even direct mail. We are asking you to forward the contents of this letter to friends who might be interested in supporting our programs. To make it easier, we are posting it on our blog so that all you need to do is send the link.
Once again, we thank you for your generosity, for your support and love for our dogs, and for your belief in our mission. It’s easier to just pull a dog from ‘death row’ and shuffle them off to another rescue. We’ve chosen the more difficult and costly path of providing the dogs love, stability and nurturing until they blossom, for however long they need. Knowing what I know about trauma, emotions and the mammalian brain, I could not in good conscience do otherwise.
Our pups and I wish you days full of happiness and blessings, and since this is November, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!
Helene and the family of “extraordinary dogs.”