More Small Paws Sunday reading.
This month, in memory of Bailey, I am working with Romeo the Cat to raise money for Small Paws Rescue.
Robin Pressnell is Executive Director of Small Paws Rescue. She is an incredibly busy lady, but recently she graciously gifted me with some time so that I could interview her by email. She has devoted her life to Bichon rescue since she founded Small Paws in 1998.
Bev and Robin at a Dayton Bichon Bash (wearing silly hats!)
BEV: In your own words Robin, could you please give us a brief overview of Small Paws?
ROBIN: There is so much more to Small Paws Rescue than meets the eye. Yes, we do rescue Bichons, nationwide. But we are also a family. Our volunteers and Team Leaders have become close to each other after working on rescue situations, together, for almost 12 years now.
Yes, we are much more than an animal rescue organization. We are also an International prayer ministry, active in 28 countries. With over 6000 members, we want people to know that God loves them more than anyone else ever has and more than anyone else ever will. And that no matter what, they are never alone. We believe in the miracle healing power of prayer and we reach out to people across the world, of all faiths. Small Paws Rescue! It’s a God thing!
BEV: Why is Small Paws important?
Robin and a litter of 4 puppies, from a commercial kennel, with heart murmurs on their way to Texas A&M for surgical repair.
ROBIN: Without Small Paws, thousands of Bichons would have died over the past 12 years. We’ve rescued over 8500 Bichons since 1998.
The love that these little ones have shared with human beings would have all been lost. People’s lives wouldn’t have been enriched as they have been by giving and receiving love with their adopted Bichon Frise from Small Paws Rescue.
Many people wouldn’t have the close personal human relationships that they enjoy today, without Small Paws Rescue!
BEV: Where do you fit in the Small Paws organization? What do you do?
ROBIN: I’m the co-founder and the Executive Director. I’m the one who keeps the members informed through our newsletters. We let them know about medical emergencies, foster needs, fundraising needs, and updates on previously rescued and adopted Bichons.
I also deal directly with veterinarians daily, all across the country, discussing various treatment options, and of course trying to get the best price possible.
I’m also the Small Paws media consultant, dealing with the press and appearing on cable shows like Animal Planet dogs 101, and Fox and Friends from the Fox News Network in New York City.
I travel each year to several cities, attending Small Paws functions and raising funds. Our vet bills run $30,000-$50,000 a month so fundraising is always a priority.
Robin prepping for a mass exodus of rescued Bichons to foster homes.
BEV: What do you love the most about your work with Small Paws?
ROBIN: I love the feeling that comes, knowing that I have helped to bring love into the lives of people. Once anyone has experienced having a Bichon Frise, they will never ever be the same. And I got to play a role in making that happen!
I also love knowing that our organization is there for Bichons who have no one else to be an advocate for them. Bichons in danger of being killed in shelters, instead, come into a place of love with Small Paws. What could be better?!
BEV: What do you wish every foster dog parent came automatically equipped with?
ROBIN: A veterinary degree. HA!
After suffering years of neglect, this recently rescued Bichon with ears matted shut will receive the care it needs and a loving furever home.
BEV: I supposed you say that because of all the veterinary bills that Small Paws takes care of. If we could take a photograph of Small Paws right now, with would it look like?
ROBIN: It would look like love. Smiles on all of the people and the Bichons from over the years, living and loving together!
BEV: What is your perfect day?
ROBIN: If one of our foster dogs has gotten away from its foster home, and we find the dog, safe and sound. We have had over 100 Bichons go missing in the last 11 years. All have been found. Two didn’t survive but everyone else is doing well. When I hear the words, “WE GOT HIM!” that’s a great day.
When I learn that a particular Bichon has survived a difficult surgery, that’s a great day!
BEV: What keeps you awake at night?
Robin worked for years to secure Romeo from a commercial kennel.
ROBIN: Two things. Will there be enough money to pay the vet bills and wondering if I have forgotten anyone in a shelter. Did I contact everyone I was supposed to? Did I make sure that no Bichon is going to be euthanized and did I get someone there in time? Every night before I go to bed I play the day back like a movie. Sometimes I have to get back up and turn on the computer to make sure no one was left to be killed.
BEV: What is the most difficult thing you have to do in your work with Small Paws?
ROBIN: For me, it’s the need for constant fundraising. It’s not easy for me to ask our members for money. I’d almost rather be hung by my thumbs in a major intersection than ask our members for financial help again! But I realize I am their voice. These Bichons in need of medical care can’t type, so I am their advocate, explaining the situation, sharing which vet is caring for the dog, including their name and phone number.
Romeo, finally in rescue and on his way to a furever home.
We post our bills each week in the newsletters so that our members can know where their money is going and who was helped!
BEV: As Robin has mentioned, one of the ways she raises money for Small Paws is through the newsletters that are emailed out to all the members. Depending on how badly funds (or prayers) are needed, sometimes the newsletter comes every few days, sometimes it comes several times a day. Always it’s a message of hope, in Robin’s own ‘stream of consciousness” style. Her personality comes through with every word—you know this is a woman who cares deeply about the Fluffs and about the members of the organization. Robin answered my last 2 questions in one of the more recent newsletters.
ROBIN: The other day, one of our members (Bev!) asked me to do an interview for her Blog, where she is currently doing a really neat fund raiser for Small Paws.
I will send out a mailing about it soon. It’s a very interesting personal blog.
Anyway, one of the questions in the interview was: “What is the most difficult thing you have to do in your work with Small Paws?”
This was my answer.
‘For me, it’s the need for constant fundraising. It’s not easy for me to ask our members for money. I’d almost rather be hung by my thumbs in a major intersection than ask our members for financial help again! But I realize I am their voice. These Bichons in need of medical care can’t type, so I am their advocate, explaining the situation, sharing which vet is caring for the dog, including their name and phone number.
Baby Higgins, sold to Small Paws at a commercial kennel auction with "a stiff back leg" that turned out to be congenital neurological damage. Small Paws found him a furever home.
We post our bills each week in the newsletters so that our members can know where their money is going and who was helped! “
It’s times like these when we fall short of raising what they truly need that I dread coming and asking for help again.
I try to think of something new and exciting to say.
I look up and ask Him to please inspire me. HA! (I think He’s probably pretty busy right now with things much more important than sending me something brilliant to say.)
The last question in the interview was this one.
“What inspires you?”
This was my answer.
“The reaction of our members to this organization inspires me! The love and commitment from perfect strangers, willing to help a Bichon in need inspires me! The love they have shown over the years to me, taking me in as a member of their family, touches me deeply.
Seeing a Bichon come from the depths of despair, to being a loving family member, inspires me!
More than anything else though, the miracles we have seen over the years, miracles that happen from what I believe is the power of prayer, inspire me! We have climbed mountains that were too tall! Don’t tell our members that something is impossible! They will prove you wrong! Each new day working with this organization is a total inspiration to me! I love this organization, the people involved, and the little ones we save, day after day, with my whole and complete heart. I am the luckiest person in the world.”
And those of you who know me, know, that really is how I feel.
The Valentine Rescue--Robin holds baby Woo (as in Pitching Woo), 1 of 33 Bichons purchased at a commercial kennel auction.
At times I wish we would win the lottery and never have to ask for vetting funds again.
But then I think, (I know. That can be dangerous.) if we won the lottery and never had to ask for help again, none of you, the people who ARE Small Paws Rescue, would ever have a part in changing the lives of both the Bichons and the people who love them, ever again!
Whether a person gives $5.00 or $5000,00, they are both a part of changing lives, changing the course of events as we know them.
You all are a part of eliminating pain and bringing love into the hearts and homes of those who needed it desperately.
I want for all of you to know that you ARE what makes Small Paws go round and round, over and over again.
In a perfect world, I’d never have to come and ask for help for them.
But in a perfect world, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in.
Of rushing to keep precious balls of fluff from being killed in a shelter, sometimes, from being shot by a puppy miller who no longer has need for an aging dog who isn’t making much money for them anymore.
I get letters every day from people. People who have adopted a Bichon from Small Paws.
They tell me how much their adopted Bichon means to them and their families.
Sometimes they actually tell me they were so depressed before he or she came into their lives, that they were even thinking of things that are unspeakable.
These little ones have amazing abilities to help, to love, and to heal broken hearts.
You know that I’ve always said that God loves each of us, more then anyone else ever has and more than anyone else ever will.
Well, when we send a formally homeless Bichon, to a new adoptive home, it’s sort of an extension of that Love.
Our hope is that the new adoptive family will share a love with that new Bichon, reminiscent of God’s love for all of us.
Well, I know I’m rambling here and I probably need to start packing.
I’m leaving soon to be attending the Suncoast Bash in Florida. It’s a pretty large Bash and people come from all over with their Bichons. We try to sign up new volunteers for the Florida team, as Florida is such a large state.
I need to tell the Team Leaders and foster parents of these four babies, Gideon, Serena, Prissy and Scarlett,that we can go ahead and authorize their vetting or not.
Thanks for reading the ramblings of a sometimes silly, blond woman in Oklahoma, who loves each of you more than you will ever know. All My Love, Robin
BEV: Robin, all my love right back at’cha. You are an incredible woman and one of my heroes. Thank you so much for all you do for the Fluffs.