by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.
“And then my soul saw you and it kind of went, ‘Oh there you are. I’ve been looking for you.’ ” —Ian S. Thomas
Anyone who says that size doesn’t matter, never spent three long days in a building the length of an airplane hangar, while crammed into a tiny space the size of a postage stamp. Thus began the great 2017 Fresno Home & Garden Show, where the spas are spacious, the crowds are colossal, and the cinnamon rolls are bigger than your head. At the Fairgrounds early in March, it seemed like almost everything was larger than life. Well, except for our 10×10 baby booth, which had just enough room for a couple volunteers and a handful of dogs; but only if you held your breath.
And after the dogs consumed a ton of treats, this really became a necessity. As one of our ARF volunteers always says, “What goes in, must come out.” Words to live by, indeed, but that’s what artificial grass is for, and luckily, we had several rolls, along with paper towels, poop bags, and disinfectant spray. Just like good Girl Scouts, we were well prepared for any emergency. Now, if only we had remembered those Thin Mints.
Fortunately, we remembered other necessities when packing up for the big production. For instance, the dogs. It wouldn’t have been much of a show if we’d left the critters behind, stuck in their crates and wondering, “Hey, where is everybody?” That would have made for some very unhappy hounds. When attending an event like the H&G Show, it’s important to know your stuff, and how much of that stuff to bring. Especially when you’re in a square space the size of a Twister mat. We pared down to essentials like a table, chairs, adoption packets, office supplies, kennels, bowls, blankets, toys, treats, and coffee; lots of coffee.
Caffeine, without a doubt, is a very integral piece of the whole adoption event puzzle. There’s a whole lot of yakking with a whole lot of people, and if you lose that buzzed edge, it could be the difference between getting a dog adopted or not. Nobody enjoys talking to a zoned out zombie, unless it’s on The Walking Dead. Keep the java flowing, and you can find little Angel an amazing home faster than a Trump tweet on Twitter. Yeah, I really just said that.
While bragging about our happy herd was easy, it was a physical challenge maneuvering around hordes of humans, when we only had a single lane for traffic flow. It was like the frantic Freeway 41 on a Monday morning, but without all the honking, “Excuse me, oh sorry, let me get past you…oops, I apologize for stepping on your sneakers.” The next thing you know, you’re attempting to squeeze by a total stranger, back to back, trying not cause a massive static wedgie. Thinking with the noodle, you turn the other way, but they do the same, and now you’re in a belly button brawl.
You make a sad attempt to lighten the mood: “Um, hi there, just pretend you know me terribly well.” Awkward. Of course we wouldn’t have had that portly problem were it not for the many food trucks participating this year. From Quesadilla Gorilla, and Meltdown Bistro, to the Smokin’ Burrito, and Mattie’s Pizza, there was something for everyone. And can I just say how delicious the creamy chicken poblano tamales from Casa de Tamales were? Insert drooling here.
I’m thrilled to report that we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed stuffing ourselves silly, as our dogs scored in the snacks department too. For we unexpectedly found ourselves smack next door to the fabulous and fierce ladies of M&M Brittany Homemade Dog Treats, who graciously shared their wares every day.
As soon as I met this trio of natural born saleswomen, I knew they’d be able to sell grapes to Gallo. Not only were they hip and hilarious, but their doggie treats looked and smelled amazing. From 20 feet away, you would have sworn there was a full on Texas BBQ happening in that building. I wanted to start gnawing on one of the smoked marrow bones, but I thought it might scare the children.
Speaking of rugrats, did I mention the kids? The mass quantity of wandering kids, screaming kids, crying kids, strollers stuffed with kids, and kids with no manners. Oh, and the balloons! Oye, those tired balloons. I said it last year, and I’ll say it again, balloons + kids = lots of scary dogs…AND volunteers. Geez, each time one of those helium filled hellraisers exploded, it sounded like a starting gun at the Olympic track and field races. On one occasion, I actually witnessed five guys competing in a 10-yard dash to the beer garden. On your mark, set, go!
In the end, we only ended up adopting a few dogs over the weekend. One fortunate gal was Starfire, a long-legged Mini Pinscher, who climbed her way out of her five-foot kennel and into the hearts of a wonderful couple.
Another doll who hit the furever home jackpot was Tandy, a lamb of a Lab mix, with a coat of spun gold. This girl definitely had a plan in mind, as she turned on the charm and won herself a family to call her own.
Then there was Sushi, a salt-and-pepper Shih Tzu mix, with a squirmy body and personable nature. After lots of lookie-loos, and nobody taking the bait, she finally made a splash and landed the perfect person.
This variety of dogs is a perfect example of why these venues are great for ARF; they enable the public to see just a small sampling of what we have back at our facility. Hopefully, they’ll want to visit our rescue and see more. Also, the atmosphere of the H&G Show might be a bit hectic for making a management adoption decision. There’s a lot of activity, miles of pavement to cover, and food to feast on. Should we get that adorable pup now or later? But we just got here! We haven’t had a corndog, hit the taco stand, found the frozen yogurt, visited the Ag Building, bought a toe ring, or even downed a beer! Sometimes, a Beagle is no match for a cold brew…
Another cool thing about the H&G Show, is all the wonderful publicity it affords us. To everyone who came by to love on the dogs, make generous donations, and post on social media, we appreciate all the word-of-mouth that keeps us going. Along with our Facebook photos and videos, you helped create a windfall of adoptions down the road.
First up was Selena, a scruffy wire-haired terrier mix, who was part of the Home Show. With big brown eyes, she was quite the crowd pleaser, but didn’t find her home until the following week.
However, the biggest sensation at the ARF booth this year was, literally, the biggest dog we took. This gigantic mountain of a mutt was Baird, a huge Newfoundland mix, with an enormous noggin, hair for days, and gallons of slobber to spare. What an amazing animal; everybody fell in love with him, and almost everyone wanted to ride him. Unfortunately, we left his saddle back at the ranch. Not long after the show, we found Baird a marvelous family, who coincidentally, already has another Newfoundland. We wished them well, and sent them home with one humongous hair brush.
Last, but definitely not least, we have Blanca, an Oreo colored, pointy-eared senior dog. Older dogs can be a tough sell, so anytime we can find these gentle souls a home, we always cheer a bit louder. Hooray!
Our lucky streak continued, as the adoptions seemed to snowball from there. A couple weekends after the show, ARF set up shop with a few dogs at Petco (Clovis/Herndon). On one Sunday alone, we were able to find permanent homes for four deserving dogs.
Now this may not sound like a reason to celebrate to you, but that sort of thing makes our socks roll up and down. One of these dogs was part of the H&G Show; Tristan, a crème brulee cutie who just wanted to nuzzle under your neck.
Another dog was Bismark, a roly-poly tri-colored Corgi, with a sunny smile and a wagging tail that never quits. Also, sisters Molly and Dolly, two unbearably precious Pugshire puppies who were adopted together. And no, I’d never heard of that breed either. After learning they were a Pug/Yorkie cross, I suggested their breed be changed to “Porksters.” Alas, my proposal was unanimously rejected. Boy, we creative types are never truly appreciated.
At Animal Rescue of Fresno, we love nothing more than finding dogs a home. And whether it’s a purebred pup, mixed mutt, or tripod terrier, we are committed to getting that dog adopted. So when you’re ready to find your new best friend, come out and see some of the canine combos we have to offer. Let’s see, how about a poodlepugdoodledane? And you thought Porkster was bad…
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.