Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, dogs are barking.
What is Christmas without a little Christmas jingle?
And what is Christmas without a little love for the shelter dogs?
We want our dogs to feel the fuzzy warmth of the Christmas season.
And so in lieu of the usual furry day, we are doing something a little different this December.
Dogs always like a change of scenery.
Instead of Pasir Ris Park, we will be bringing them to the picturesque Lorong Halus Wetland Park.
We want to bring them one step closer to nature, help them see that the world we live in is a beautiful one... and that they are not alone.
This is furry day with a twist. This is Walk-A-Paw 2012.
What is on earth is Walk-A-Paw?
Walk-A-Paw is an annual event we hold each December, in conjunction with our year end flea market and adoption drive, to ready ourselves for various financial demands we foresee in the upcoming year.
We were once a fledgling new shelter, upbeat about the future and ready to take on the world for our dogs. Then, we were faced with wave after wave of medical crises that almost crushed our spirit.
In 2010, Dollar passed away within days from acute kidney failure, Daixi whittled down to skin and bones from chronic kidney failure, Doris' platelet count was found to be abnormally low, Dada and Dillon were suspected to have consumed rat poison... Wham Bam. Everything came all at once.
Watching our dogs fall ill was hard enough. It didn't help that we were caught off guard and left scrambling to raise the money for their treatment. We were driven to set up the aptly named SOS Fund and the kindness we received from folks we have never met helped us tide through this very horrible period.
Gratitude was sweet. We were glad for the whole episode to go away. But I doubt we would ever forget the panic and anxiety we experienced when the bills just kept on mounting.
We never want to go through that kind of anxiety again. We don't want to be as reliant as we once were. For the shelter to be a long term venture, we had to be self-sufficient and resourceful. It was our initiative to save the dogs and we didn't want it to become your burden every time something cropped up.
And so we got to work.
We were ordinary people with no special talents but we charged on ahead and did the best that we could. Besides our Sponsor-A-Dog Program, we began to participate in and organize flea markets more actively and started producing our own calendars, badges and T-shirts for sale. Last year, we organized our inaugural Walk-A-Paw to much good cheer and support.
We are hoping it will be the same this year :)
Just like last year, we will be walking 1.6km from the shelter to the park. For the less physically inclined, fret not. Barring the fast five minutes of irrepressible doggie excitement, the walk will be a leisurely one with some good scenery along the way. What's more, unlike last year where we had to walk on the grass, there is now a cement pathway to help facilitate walking.
A friendly, experienced guide of ours will be attached to each group of dogs. So if any difficulty is faced in the handling of the dog, our guides will be there to save the day. They will also call for the appropriate water breaks for both dogs and participants along the way. Our van will also be patrolling the route to rescue any stubborn dog that refuses to walk. Don't worry, we've got it all covered.
We should arrive at the park within 25 minutes, whereupon we would all settle down for a well-deserved break and some photo taking. When the dogs have had enough of a breather, the guides would lead the groups on an exploration around the park until it is finally time to cover the final 1.6km back to the shelter. Back at the shelter, showering would commence, after which, the event would draw to a close.
The excitement of the day, a good shower and their lunch afterward will all culminate in a very blissful night's sleep for our dogs. That is probably the best Christmas present for us all.
To participate in the Walk-A-Paw, there would be a registration fee of $35.00. In return, the participants would receive a goody bag, consisting of a special edition Gentle Paws Walk-A-Paw 2012 Participant T-shirt (designed by our wonderfully talented volunteer, Adeline), a badge, a drink, a snack and other paraphernalia.
Confused? Perhaps a step-by-step guide is in order. Do note however that more details regarding payment and collection of goody bags would be released upon confirmation of your participation.
At its barest and most essential, the Walk-A-Paw is just a walkathon involving our own shelter dogs. But it is symbolic in so many ways.
It is a walk for a better future for the homeless dogs around us.
It is a walk showing that we are a community that cares.
It is a walk... of love.
In the world of animal rescue, let's not learn the hate and cynicism that is so prevalent. Let us work - and walk - toward our goals with the positivity characteristic of the Christmas season.
Care to join us this 22 December for the Walk-A-Paw? Drop us an email today!
We wish you a merry Christmas! ;)
Please be informed that all proceeds of the Walk-A-Paw will go towards the shelter dogs, be it for medical expenses, maintenance of infrastructure, for food or rent or possible relocation needs.
Credit to Sebas, Lorna and our surprisingly tolerant doggies for the beautiful, amusing and thoroughly enjoyable Christmas themed photos.
Credit also to Adeline for our simple but beautiful T-shirt design and for so patiently catering to all our requirements.
Please direct any queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.