George and Elaine (names changed) adopted Klondike from a local shelter 5 years ago. They are regulars at a dog park I frequent with my dogs. Klondike is a bouncy happy wolfy type dog that runs up to greet all newcomers to the park with equal enthusiasm. Even while play bowing you can see his eyes dance back and forth between his pet parents and the dog he’s trying to entice. While he seems to really enjoy a good game of tag and chase, he seems equally thrilled to roll over on his back and let the little dogs jump all over him. You can see the huge lolling happy grin spread across his face when he hears the little fierce growls as they tug on his collar. Panting and happy, he always bounds joyously back to George and Elaine when they call him to leave. I see him at least 3-4 days a week at the park. His coat is always immaculate and you can tell he’s well loved and a true member of the family.
Just last week I was at the dog park and Klondike came in with his normal exuberance. He gave a quick lick to Elaine’s hand and ran off to join his dog buddies. Elaine stood perfectly still for a second and then I saw tears well up in her eyes. She took a spot at the picnic table and I saw her head go down to her hands and watched as her shoulders shook. I don’t know her that well but I couldn’t just let her sit there in such obvious distress so I went over to ask if she was ok. I know she wasn’t, but what is the appropriate question at that point? As we watched Klondike play bow to a portly little dachshund, she shared with me that her husband had lost his job about a year previous. Up until recently they’d been able to make ends meet but now unexpected expenses had come up and they were having to tighten their belts even further to try to keep their home and the only car they had left. She said he was hopeful that something would go his way soon, but they had to figure out what to do right now. One of the things they had come to a heart wrenching decision about was the fact that Klondike’s food bill, since he was such a large dog, was becoming an expense they couldn’t justify. Just the thought of Klondike having to move to another family stopped the conversation for several minutes as she cried. Klondike took just that moment to come back and give her a huge slobbering kiss before running back out to welcome a lab puppy to the park party.
While I’m sure it was an odd response to her, I jumped up and said “Wait! NO you don’t at all have to give Klondike up! You’re EXACTLY the reason we are doing this! I’m so excited that I know someone who it will actually help!” Now, at first I didn’t realize that I hadn’t really said what “this” is so she just stared at me blankly and even some of the dogs at the park looked at me for a moment as if I was a crazy woman. “No really! All of the PETCO stores have partnered up with pet food bank organizations and programs exactly to help keep people’s pets in their homes when they need the comfort of pets the most! It’s part of the PETCO Foundation We Are Family Too program. Food is collected at all the stores in bins and then transferred to pet pantries and pet food banks to distribute to needy people in their communities. This happens all year long but right now is a National Food Drive which is being publicized much more actively so that there is plenty of food and people don’t have to think about giving up their pets during the holidays especially.” I know I was rambling a little but I was so excited to tell her about this. I noticed a new light in her eyes and then she started to cry again. But she was smiling through her tears. “I can’t wait to tell George” she said, “he was so upset at the thought that when Klondike leapt up to go for his normal play time at the park today, George just fell apart, hugged him really really tightly and told us to go on our own. You are an angel“ she exclaimed! “I’m not at all an angel. It’s the amazing people who shop at PETCO that are angels for the donations they are making every single day to make this possible,” I replied
I can’t tell you how proud I feel to be part of an organization that can make this happen for people like Elaine and George. These are the faces of people who are helped by the simple act of kindness when you buy just one extra bag of food and drop it in the bin at the front of the store.
Since we first launched the Pet Food Bank Program in March, we’ve collected and donated more than 110 tons of pet food and litter to families and pets in need – and that’s just the beginning. Now that the program is nationwide, just imagine can be done now by engaging shoppers in PETCO stores across the country!
As for me, I can’t wait to see Klondike (and Elaine and George) at the dog park this week and for many many weeks to come.