I come from a long line of activists, of people who throw caution to the wind in order to right a wrong. I have energy, common sense, and an unwillingness to give up on the underdog. Over the years I had lots of different jobs. I started out in the Peace Corps in Africa and now here I am, over forty-two years later, sort of come full circle in a job that pays next to nothing but one that is making a difference.

Which brings me to my role with NEW PAWSibilities. People who knew me before would never, ever believe the turn my life has taken and why I do what I do. In my life, I’ve made money. I’ve traveled to all fifty states and at least half that many countries. I’ve worn designer clothes, eaten at five-star restaurants, and reinvented myself more often than I can almost remember. So what takes an avowed ignorer of dogs to a place where she works for a mere pittance in an industry she never thought or cared about? One specific dog.

We had dogs growing up, some I remember liking and spending time with and others I remember with a mix of emotions. Looking back, I know that with the exception of two of them these were strays who usually came home cradled in my brothers’ arms. All of my brothers and there are four so we had a lot of dogs, at some point flashed a toothy grin as they mouthed words of dread to most parents; “Can we keep him?” Mom never said no, just added that revolting canned dog food to the grocery list and kept on juggling all the balls in her life.

The two who made me take a vow of doggy abstinence were not bad dogs but full of energy with minimal or no training. In my new role of dog mommy, I now realize that it is training the human, not the dog, that makes all the difference.

So back to that one specific dog. His name is Coconut and he has not only helped me through a bad time in my life but guided me to a place where I can help others, both canine and human. My favorite emails are those filled with pictures of dogs and comments or stories about how NEW PAWSibilities brought rescued dogs from Kentucky to Wisconsin and into a new home. The serendipity of these adoptions still amazes me each time.

At heart, I am a storyteller, a wordsmith. I wrote these words because I believe them so passionately. “Our mission is to create a world where every dog can be surrounded by love. We get enormous satisfaction by connecting people and dogs because, as simple as it sounds, love is just a wag away.”

I think we do a magnificent job on our mission, but we can always do better. There are many things necessary for doing a good job in rescue. We need space for the dogs, money to transport them from Kentucky to Oshkosh, money to do spay/neuter surgery since fewer than two-percent of the dogs we receive are fixed, money to care for the dogs while they are at NEW PAWSibilities, time to clean, train, socialize, groom, test, and feed the dogs, lots of love and patience, and a lot of sense of humor.

To those who adopt and get the word out about us and our dogs, thank you. Look at this partial list of things we do to keep our shelter running. Maybe you can help. Maybe you can volunteer to help with upcoming fundraisers or you can make a donation to the ever-growing spay/neuter fund. How about helping us paint and do some light construction projects if that’s a skill you have and are willing to use. The list is endless, the needs are great, the rewards are incredible.

People who knew me before are still surprised that I did not take a full-time lucrative position in this my last opportunity to build up retirement money or leave a large stash for my children and grandchildren when I die. But they don’t how much my dog has changed me. What kind of social activist who cares for the underdog, literally, would I be if I didn’t help NEW PAWSibilities?

During this season of giving I encourage you to think about what you can do to help us continue and to bring in more death row dogs to their new lives with happy, new families. We truly appreciate you and thank you for all you have done and will do for us. It makes this much more rewarding than if we felt we were in this alone.