Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How a Dog Changed My Life

I grew up in Hollywood near North Lake.  I have so many great memories of my childhood home.  Some of my most fond memories include growing up with my dog, Butch.  For as long as I can remember I have always loved all animals.  I’ve had cats, chickens, ducks, horses and even a raccoon, but my dog Butch changed my life in many ways.  I was always fascinated by Siberian Huskies as a child and after about 7 years of persistence I convinced my mother to get me a Siberian Husky puppy….Butch! 
Butch was a key part of my life for the next 13.5 years.  He was my best friend and a focal point of my life.  When Butch passed away I was devastated.  I felt like more than a part of my life had been taken away but actually a piece of my soul was missing without Butch.  For 10 years after his passing I couldn’t even consider having another dog.  There has never been and never will be another dog like Butch; nobody can ever take his place.  After I moved back to Hollywood I was looking for volunteer opportunities in the area when discovered the South Florida Siberian Husky Rescue.  I contacted the rescue, filled out a volunteer application and went to my first event (a dog wash) as a volunteer.  I informed the rescue that I had no interest in adopting or even fostering, but that I would help with fundraising events or whatever else was needed.
After a few months I got more involved with the rescue, but still didn’t want to foster or adopt.  One morning one of the rescue volunteers called and said that we had a dog in a shelter and that they wanted to get her out for a few days since a tropical storm was heading our way; they were worried the shelter might lose power and / or get flooded.  I knew who the dog was; a female named Lola with some behavioral issues and a bit of a history to her.  Given the situation, I agreed to pick her up and foster her for a few days.  After a few days I didn’t want to send her back; I thought I could work with her and help her to become more adoptable.  Three years have passed since I picked up Lola for “a few days” and she’s still here with me…along with Harlen (who I agreed to foster a few months after Lola first came to my house).  While Lola and Harlen are the love of my life, they will still never be Butch and they can never replace him, but I do think Butch would be proud of me for saving the lives of these two huskies. 
While looking for a healthy food for Lola and Harlen, I seemed to have a difficult time finding a healthy dog food that was locally available.  When I realized how difficult it was to find a quality dog food in the area, I started a business named after Harlen and Lola (Harlo’s Healthy Pets).  The business has become fulltime and has also enabled me to support the rescue with donations from sales as well as donate products.  As I said, Butch has changed my life in so many ways even all these years later. 
I can’t guarantee that volunteering with the rescue, fostering or adopting a dog will change your life, but I’m pretty sure it will.  I can promise that if you are willing to foster or adopt a dog, you will definitely change that dog’s life.  If you are interested in finding out more about volunteer opportunities, fostering or adopting, please contact the South Florida Siberian Husky Rescue:  954-540-7373 or www.sibrescue.com.
*Written by David E. Neuwirth.  This article appears in The Lakes Community Newsletter (September - November Issue)

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