Shelter fundraiser to mark a Happily Ever After year

Sue Guinn Legg • Nov 27, 2017 at 10:03 PM

The Johnson City/Washington County Animal Shelter is kicking off the holidays with a fundraising venture that could make the coming year the happiest ever for 12 of the shelter’s most tenured residents.

Inspired by Brodie, a pit bull mix who spent more than two years at the shelter before leaving town in January for a permanent home on the shores of Lake Michigan, the 2018 Happily Ever Calendar was designed to bring the same good fortune to a dozen of Brodie’s kennel mates.

And it’s already working. Seven of the calendar’s 12 featured pit bulls — all hard-sell adoptions because of the stereotypes attached to their breed — have been adopted within the past month.

At seven down, five to go and all proceeds from sale of the $15 calendar going into a special fund to get the calendar dogs out into the public eye where they can dispel the prejudices for themselves, prospects for the calendar’s total success are looking very good.

Also looking very good are the dogs themselves in 13 of the sweetest pictures professional photographer Deana Fleenor may have ever taken.

Brodie, dressed to the nines in a red satin bow tie, is featured on calendar’s cover and also in a glossy photo spread on the back pages that give readers a look at just how happy his forever home has turned out to be. He and his adoptive mom, Kingsport native Lore West, recently relocated from Chicago to Las Vegas.

And for every month of the new year there is one of Brodie’s old pals from the shelter, each in a seasonal, floral headdress that not only softens their hard-sell image but make this pack doggone irresistible.

Calendar dogs yet to be adopted are led by Miss April, Sasha, who is currently boarding in a foster home in Asheville to give her a break from the depression she developed during her 26 months at the shelter.

Six to eight years old, sweet and reserved, Sasha was “just overwhelmed here,” shelter Executive Director Cara Ledbetter said. She stayed in her bed all the time and she would never come out of her kennel. She didn’t show well and that’s a big part of why she’s been here so long.

Also still available is Pumpkin, a four-year-old, caramel brendle and the calendar’s Miss May. According to the folks at the shelter, Pumpkin is an active girl and in need of an equally active person or family.

Miss August is Madison, another young brendle and also active like Pumpkin, is still at the shelter and still looking for her forever home.

Garfield, the calendar’s handsome young Mr. October, is likewise available. Very sweet and very energetic is how the shelter volunteers describe him. He is currently in obedience training, getting out as often as possible to work on his socialization and scheduled to leave soon for a foster home where he will continue working on his manners.

Then there is Diesel, a special needs dog and the calendar’s Mr. December.

Because of swallowing issues, Diesel eats standing up. Not yet 2 years old, he is believed to have suffered a head trauma. He walks sideways on his tiptoes and compulsively licks the poles of his kennel. He’s a high-needs dog, Ledbetter said, and he will require a very special caregiver.

“None of them are at any risk. There is no date when they can’t be here any longer,” Ledbetter said. “It’s just there is not much of a life in a four-by-four kennel. And that’s the thing. We are not doing them any justice when we keep them forever and ever without going the extra mile.

While smaller and more popular breeds get adopted right away, Ledbetter said, “the larger breed dogs, like hounds and especially pit bulls, seem to stay at the shelter for a long time.”

“The shelter staff and volunteers take care of and love them like they are their own, but they all need to be placed in real homes. The shelter is not an ideal situation for them.”

“I asked Deanna to donate her time and talent on the Happily Ever After project to help give some of our longer residents a chance to be showcased and hopefully find their fairytale ending, just like Brodie.”

The calendars are available for purchase at the shelter at 3411 N. Roan St. and at veterinary offices around the county. All proceeds will go to the shelter’s pitbull fund.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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