Brenda Thompson shakes hands with Rocco Rottweiler. | Photo provided
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Call (219) 552-1111 or check out Pawshere Foundation, Inc. on Facebook.
Updated: July 20, 2013 6:16AM
“My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to 99 cents a can. That’s almost $7 in dog money.”
— Joe Weinstein
Brenda Thompson, 52, lives in Cedar Lake; she is a branch manager at the DeMotte Library. She also spends a lot of time volunteering at Pawshere Foundation, Inc., an animal shelter in extreme southern Lowell which is a Frisbee’s toss north of Shelby.
“I was born in Pennsylvania, but grew up in Wheaton, Ill.,” Thompson began. “I went to Wheaton-Warrenville High School. My maiden name is Lynch.”
“I have a bachelor’s degree from Iowa Wesleyan in regular education and special education. Eventually, I earned my master’s at IUPUI. I started out at the Lake County Library as a children’s librarian. I’ve been at the DeMotte Library for six years now.”
Brenda, I’ve always admired librarians, but have interviewed a bookcase full of them. Let’s groove in on the shelter. Do you come from a long line of animal lovers?
“I recently returned from Johnstown, Pa.; my aunt had an old photo of my grandfather as young boy with a little puppy dog. My three brothers always brought home strays. If the dogs didn’t have a home, Mom and Dad took them in. I love dogs.”
How long has Pawshere been around?
“It was established by Edward B. Lollis here on his mini-farm in 2007. He also established a trust with the hope the facility would continue well into the future. Ed obtained 501(c)3 status for Pawshere Foundation, Inc.”
That’s great. Then what?
“Ed died of cancer in 2010.”
“But the foundation is continually working to improve its facilities and practices to provide the best possible care for the dogs.”
“Ken Wilson lives here and manages the place as far as maintenance and dog care. It’s actually a huge responsibility, plus he’s raising three young children by himself. He gets up at 3 a.m. to start running dogs. If a dog is sick, he’s up in the middle of the night.
“Ken also goes to facilities such as Jasper County Animal Control which is a kill facility. He rescues dogs and helps rehabilitate them.”
“I’m kind of multipurpose. I manage office stuff, the handling of the dogs, fundraising events... . We also have a foster program; I try to keep that going.”
“If someone surrenders, say, a smaller dog. We don’t want to put it a cage. For example, Bubba was a mini-pinscher that was surrendered to us, so I kept him at my house.”
“It would be like if an elderly owner was going into nursing care and could no longer have the dog. Sometimes people lose their jobs and can’t afford to keep their dogs anymore. There are a lot of sad stories of why people can’t keep their dogs. If they surrender them, we do ask for a minimal fee to help us with possible shots, feeding or just getting the dog acclimated. We want the best for the animals.”
Besides you and Ken are there other volunteers?
“Mike Trueblood and Julie Thompson who is our main handler.”
“We have several. Boca, a pit bull, has been abused. He’s not mean at all; just the opposite — very shy. He’s the sweetest boy. Boca sits at that gate when we’re cleaning and just tilts his head. He just wants some lovin’s. Once he gets to know you, Boca is the biggest cuddle bug you’ll ever have.”
Have you been bitten?
“My first day. It was one of our ‘rotts;’ Heidi is a lifer. We have three lifers that are not adoptable. Because we are a sanctuary, the dog will live out its life here.
“There are only two ways we’ll put down a dog. One, if it became too aggressive to be handled by our professional staff. We haven’t come to that; Ken and Julie are pretty tough. Two, if the dog was suffering do to an illness. We have a vet who comes to the facility regularly.”
How many dogs on the premises at this time?
“We have 19 right now. We’ve had 50 or more here. We have senior dogs. People seem to like cute puppies. It’s sad because our dogs are the ones that are calmer. They’re going to give you the love and they appreciate when someone really loves them. They can sense that.
“We just adopted out Max, our 10-year old German Shepherd. He went to a couple who have a son with special needs. When they put Max in the van with their son, he just gently leaned over and kissed the boy on the cheek — perfect fit.”
Earlier, you mentioned fundraisers.
“The foundation had some seed money, but that’s about gone. We depend on fundraising and donations to keep the facility going. What people don’t understand is places like the Humane Societies get helped out with funding from the government. We don’t get that.”
Donations don’t necessarily have to be of the monetary kind.
“We’ll accept dog food, toys, towels, blankets, cleaning supplies, nylon leashes, medium and large collars... .”
Any final thoughts?
“Basically, just letting people know the facility is here. Animals don’t have a voice. We’re the only voice they have. They’ll give you as much love, and more, than you could ever give them.”
After our interview Brenda took me for the dime tour of Pawshere. While introducing me to various pooches, she looked at me with sincerity and rued: “I wish I could take them all home, but I can’t.”
Maybe a few readers of this column could take just one.