Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Renewed Inspiration

Some of you folks may know that for several years, I ran a small, mobile business that helped to raise funds for greyhound adoption groups, and research to fight animal cancers. For four years I hopped around the east coast, attending greyhound picnics, reunions, charity events and more - selling tee shirts, prints, cards and such that featured my greyhound-themed illustrations. Sadly, my life saw some major upheaval, and the business fell by the wayside - but not without my hopes of seeing it restored someday. Very happily, it seems that day has finally come.

I am an animal lover - anyone who knows me in the slightest is keenly aware of this fact. But greyhounds have a very special place in my heart. I had wanted to share my life with one at the age of sixteen, when I first learned of their plight (post-racing career adoption was a much rarer thing in those days) - and when I finally adopted Desiree fourteen years later, my heart was won completely. The business came along only months later - and by the time I had attended my first show as a vendor, I had adopted Brick as well.

But to the present. For a couple of years, my prints, cards and other paper goods had been in storage, waiting for their return to the market. Prohibitive expenses and policies on a certain auction website had caused me to close my online store, thus cutting off my Internet presence. I began to focus on other aspects of life, almost forgetting this important part of my career.

Until the Fort Worth 28.

This group of 28 greyhounds and greyhound mixes was rescued last month, as part of an emergency Animal Control seizure in Fort Worth, Texas. Most likely victims of an illegal racing operation, the dogs were reported to AC by a local water company employee - caged in a backyard, starving, covered in ticks and fleas... as good as left for dead. As the story branched out via news reports and the Internet, the appalling truth drove people to action. My first moment of awareness was the resultant death of Braden, found outside of the property in horrible shape... he died within days of his rescue of kidney failure, resulting from starvation. Three more dogs, all beautiful, loving souls, expired from distemper - a completely preventable illness. One dog in particular, Martin, grabbed my heartstrings - clearly a wonderful soul, just learning to play with toys, understand love and happiness - taken by the disease after his golden moment of life, in a caring foster home, touched by kind hands and words for the first time. The fact that I've met his wonderful, supportive family of foster caretakers only brings it home all the more.

The survivors are healing well, but funds will be continuously needed for their recovery. As well, even more dogs have been rescued from a terrible situation - 11 this time, in a case unrelated to the FW28. Clearly this seems to be an ongoing issue - and I've suddenly found myself driven to help out.

As a result, I've donated a number of my prints to the fund raising auctions to help these dogs in their recovery - as well, two custom portraits, which will be auctioned off this fall and winter. My prints will also be placed on Etsy - the existing pieces from my store, as well as some new offerings. My plan is to donate 10% at the beginning - a greater percentage as time moves along, and the store establishes itself.

I didn't expect to get back into this business so quickly, but inspiration comes unexpectedly. And these dogs certainly can use all the help we can offer them.