While I am typically not one to 'judge,' last weekend I did just that! I was invited to be a judge in the "Go Dog Go" fundraiser show for HeARTs Speak, an organization that offers a unique and creative way for artists of all ages to help homeless animals.
Laura's motto for the event that showcased dogs of all ages, breeds, and talents was, "Barking allowed. Big personalities rewarded." When asked what motivated her to create this annual event, Laura said, " I place high value on organizing events that bring together families in support of positive animal causes. These types of events serve as a venue for the much needed education of responsible pet ownership, advocacy for animal rescue and awareness overall about the role we play in protecting animals. Collaboration is key."
Laura sees the value of HeARTs Speak's mission and shares the values of founder Lisa Prince Fishler with regard to collaborating for a greater good. In her words, "HeARTs Speak’s global community unites animal artists and animal rescues into collective action for social change. In just two years, HeARTs Speak already boasts 160 members from around the world who are excited to come together in a setting where it's about collaboration, not competition. Power in Numbers. They believe in being part of something greater than them SELVES. And so do we."
The 'Show' was in fact so much more than just the a show- it was a full-fledged event with an amazing variety of rescue groups, vendors and animal wellness professionals there helping to make the day a huge success.
My fellow judges...and new BFFS, Bruce Littlefield and Kathy Stevens, are both published authors and animal advocates-each with an impressive list of projects that I recommend everyone check out!
Bruce Littlefield was there with rescued pooch Westminster, signing his most recent book. Kathy Stevens founded The Catskill Animal Sanctuary for farm animals like Jangles and to promote humane education. With so many special creatures and great projects to learn about-I have decided to devote some blog time to Kathy's work in the upcoming weeks-stay tuned!
There was no lack of entertaining banter between the three of us as we debated on finalists and brainstormed other ways to collaborate and help animals in need.
Mark Conden and his amazing therapy dog Dutchess MC'd the event and helped spread the word about HeARTs Speak's efforts to unite artists who wish to impact the pet overpopulation crisis and help advocate for the thousands of animals waiting in shelters as we speak.
I spoke with Laura's very eloquent fur kids, Ella, Empi and Ramona after the show. They had this to bark about the day's event, "HeARTs Speak casts an international net with members from all over the world, and initially, our mom was concerned how this would translate to an event at the local level. Our community demonstrated a resounding response, however, and we join her in being pleasantly surprised when the final numbers of entries more than tripled those who had pre-registered, making mom and us believe that people are searching for grassroots, ethical efforts founded upon the principles of mentorship, collaboration and empathy. It's truly a win, win, win. We plan to give her lots of treats when we get home."
The crowd's choice and winner for "Best In Show" was Lincoln, a pit bull puppy currently in foster with the dedicated folks at Rescue-a-Bull. Lincoln, and the very special, Precious (aka Lil' P), are among many other great companions who are ready and willing to have you audition for the role of their 'best friend.' They are taking applications right now!
Dr. Pia Salk