2013-08-21 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Artists have gallery shows; musicians perform concerts; teachers hold science fairs. So how do animal welfare organizations step back to showcase and savor the totality of their efforts? Sometimes rescue groups host “Alumni Barbecues” so the volunteers can mingle with adopters and have the opportunity to be with many of the once desperate pets they have sent on to a better life.

On Saturday August 17th, Last Hope Animal Rescue held its annual “Volunteer & Adopter Appreciation BBQ” in the parking lot of our adoption center in Wantagh. We couldn’t have asked for a more glorious day! The turn-out was terrific- about 200 volunteers and adopters plus at least 50 adopted alumni dogs. For reasons of safety and feline pride, alumni cats are reluctant to attend such a frivolous outdoor party so their pet parents celebrate by leaving their kitties home.

We’re grateful to the many Last Hope volunteers who helped out as well as our grill chefs from a men’s club; the Bellmore Fire Department for lending their gas grill; Larry & Stacy from Spray-ATat for painting temporary tattoos on the kids; Ralph’s Italian Ices in Seaford for the great discount; DJ Jason Vittore of Levittown for doing such a great job; Beverly Anderson the Halo Pet food rep who came from Queens to give out free samples, and our own Cynthia for organizing the hula hoop contest for the bipeds. She also made the designer hula hoops. And we didn’t run out of food which was the greatest worry besides sweating out the weather report.

Cisco's forever and foster families meet for the first time. Cisco's forever and foster families meet for the first time. The pooch party began by honoring two Last Hope dogs who have accomplished so much despite major obstacles. The guests of honor and other dogs mentioned here have been featured in past “Pets.”

Rosco Bosco has the cutest Doxie dimples. Rosco Bosco has the cutest Doxie dimples. There was a special salute to Gabby, a Pit who spent a year at the Hempstead Shelter and nearly another at Last Hope. Gabby spent a year overmedicated due to a misdiagnosis of epilepsy and received special recognition for her amazing AKC Canine Good Citizen title. Lhasa- Timmy was honored as an amputee ambassadog for his therapy dog certification and work in the Reading Partners Program at Wantagh Library. Later, 22 Last Hope alumni and current dogs competed in the swimsuit, evening wear, talent and owner look-alike contests during our Pet Pageant.

A panel of seven judges with a dynamite scoring system bestowed Best In Show awards on: Benton an adoptable Treeing Walker Coonhound from Kentucky wearing goggles and a life jacket in Swimsuit; Bella (a NJ Chihuahua left on a park bench last February with a note) in Evening Wear; Jeffrey the 3-legged Brookhaven Shelter Beagle for his imitation of Captain Hook in Talent and Baby (formerly “Chanel” a Babylon Shelter Pit found with butchered ears and a crooked smile) and her new Dad in Dog/Owner Look-alike. ...And borrowing the immortal words of Elaine Benes in the “NYC Marathon” episode of Seinfeld, we can shout: “You are ALL WINNERS” to every Last Hope alumni and their wonderful new families.

There were so many emotional moments- just to name a few: •Dachshund- Rosco Bosco- visited briefly because his Mom had a family reunion in NJ. Last year he competed in the bathing suit contest a week after having major surgery. A mini miracle, as was a previous scenario of Babylon Town Shelter saving his life. Somewhere around 13 years old, Rosco Bosco is almost blind now yet he still has the cutest Doxie dimples on the planet. •Cisco’s (veteran of three complex, orthopedic surgeries to repair his hit by car leg) foster family meeting his forever family for the first time. Cisco had the first two operations when a Babylon Shelter dog; the last while at Last Hope. This Pit pup is blessed with two families who love him. •The return of Ethan, a discarded Virginia hunting Hound found with huge numbers painted on his back, and watching him mingle with all his canine colleagues. Poor Ethan has atypical fear issues at home and an incredibly patient owner. •Gertie, an older Shepherd mix from Hempstead Shelter in a fitted corset because she just had laser surgery to remove a re-occurring but benign mammary tumor. Her new Mom handed me professional glamour shots of Gertie. •Lab mix littermates- Phineas & Ferb- seeing each for the first time since they left foster care in West Virginia because they came to Last Hope on separate transports. Their new families met for the first time.

To many of us, the Last Hope Alumni BBQ is the best day of the year because we are able to become re-acquainted with our furry friends, get to see their progress and listen to their wonderful families bragging about them. It’s such a contrast, knowing that most were dogs no one cared about.

Before coming to Last Hope many of our dogs endured lives of pure torture. Together Last Hope’s volunteers and supporters made their “happily ever after” possible, and for that brief time during the barbecue celebration we witnessed that “happily ever after” en masse at our beautiful adoption facility.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: This duo would love to attend an Adoptee BBQ. “Hazel” #13-482 a small, sweet Pit about a year tested heartworm (antigen) positive even though she is so young. She is a well-mannered office dog and deserves a wonderful person in her life. The police found “Bingo” #13-484 a young, brindle Terrier mix tied to a fence. Cats: many kittens, and “Merlin” #3-372-handsome longhaired fellow who craves an only cat home.

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