Polka – later in life.

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Dear Friend,

Who among us hasn’t loved a pet that absolutely confounds us?

It starts when we stop by a shelter to “just look.” That certain one catches our attention. We are struck by their beauty, their soulful eyes, their pleading stare. There is that undeniable connection. We can’t believe our luck in finding such a perfect match. They reel us in. We take them home.

Then … we begin to understand why they were looking for a home in the first place.

That’s how it went with Polka. She was our beautiful girl. A stunning purebred Golden Retriever. Friendly. Perfect manners. Great with the kids.

But not so great with thunder.

When that first clap of thunder hit, our perfect pooch turned into a four-legged wrecking ball. I won’t go into detail about the couches, carpet, baseboards and doors that became collateral damage, but suffice it to say we kept the local hardware store in business.

We looked a bit more into Polka’s past and found that she had been placed in and out of several homes. Each time returned for her destructive behavior. She would not only destroy her environment, but she was hurting herself as well.

Polka, Timmy and Tucker

Polka with friends, Timmy and Tucker.

Animal Friends, who at the time didn’t have the behavior support they have now, did the best they could and kept her out of the loud kennel and in an office where they could ease her fears. They knew what we all now know … if Polka had ended up at a traditional shelter, she would have lost her life. Thankfully, Animal Friends kept working to find her the right home. And gratefully, it was mine.

Like many of you, I was willing to deal with Polka’s demons. I couldn’t imagine the alternative.

So many of us unconditionally love these special pets – as imperfect as they are. We tolerate, manage and excuse their challenging behavior. We seek solutions – some more creative than others – to make it work. Because we know we are also saving their life.

Sadly, not everyone is able or willing to take on the Polkas that fill shelters and rescues. Too many resource-strapped organizations don’t have the funding or the expertise to work even some of the most basic behavioral issues. Too many simply have to make choices.

Animal Friends is different. They take on the cases that other organizations can’t … or won’t.

They are the go-to resource for those difficult pets that are simply out of options. Animal Friends recognizes that there is a flood of behaviorally challenged pets entering shelters, and not near enough resources available to help these animals get back on the right track and into homes where they belong.

With a team of skilled, experienced and passionate staff and volunteers, Animal Friends is making the commitment to these fearful, anxious, unsocialized or simply poorly trained animals. From training classes and playgroups to daily enrichment activities and individualized modification plans, Animal Friends knows pets like Polka are fixable … not disposable.

Polka lived a long life and brought so much joy to me and my family. She is no longer with us, but her story is an important one.

It is a story to remind us all about imperfection and second chances.

For all the imperfect animals who are desperate for a second chance, I am asking you to make a gift to support Animal Friends Behavior program. I see first-hand the difference they are making, the lives they are saving. I see the homeless pets who come to them with challenges that would make anyone think there is no hope … but months or weeks later are walking out with a new family and a new chance.

Polka and siblings

Polka and siblings.

I am so committed to Animal Friends Behavior program that, from now through Sept. 30, I will match every gift – 50 cents on the dollar – up to $100,000 to ensure that this program continues to grow and expand so more lives can be saved.

For all the imperfect pets who are still waiting, please give generously today.

I thank you. (And I’m quite sure Polka would too.)

Bob Fragasso

Board of Directors (Adopter, Supporter, Ambassador, …)
Animal Friends

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