OLD SAYBROOK — You don’t need to worry about dogs jumping up on your living room couch — especially not while looking for your new best friend at the Dog Days adoption event Sept. 14
“Muddy paws on a white sofa will not be a problem,” advises Keith A. Bolles of Saybrook Home in Old Saybrook. “So, come and adopt a dog!”
More than 25 dogs rescued, vetted, and up-to-date on shots and health will be available for adoption on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 15 from noon to 5 p.m. at the home furnishings store’s Dog Days event to save shelter dogs. The store is at 2 Main St.
“We’ll demonstrate furniture upholstered with a ‘performance fabric’ that is pet-friendly and resistant to muddy paws, red wine, pen marks,” said Bolles whose family has owned the home furnishings and apparel store for 41 years.
“You don’t have to sacrifice quality for a beloved dog.” He knows dogs, having had a beloved dog in his life since his birth nearly three decades ago.
“Every dog is a great dog,” he said with a smile. He and his wife who married recently have their eyes on one of the dogs coming to the store’s parking lot. Adoption papers are available online, and the first to apply for a specific dog goes to the head of the adoption line.
The dogs for adoption at the store have been rescued by Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc. According to Lorin Liesenfelt, “The organization trains a volunteer crew to run dog adoption events throughout Connecticut to keep dogs from high-kill shelters. All dogs also spayed or neutered, dewormed, evaluated by a trainer and a veterinarian. All the adoption fees collected are given to the rescues attending the event. At Saybrook Home, we’ll have small dogs, puppies, and a few older dogs for adoption.”
She encourages prospective adopting individuals or families to fill out an adoption application online to get the process started before arriving at Saybrook Home on the adoption days. The organization will call all references prior to placements. The online application is available at www.godogdays.org.
The Dog Days charity was started in 2010 in Essex. It has been commended by the state of Connecticut and the Department of Agriculture, Liesenfelt said.
In addition to adoption events for dogs in shelters around the state and beyond, the charity trains volunteers to learn how to rescue or foster dogs. The charity rehabilitates dogs and provides temporary housing for pets coming into emergency shelters during disaster.
The adoption process at Saybrook Home will begin with a blessing of the dogs at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, by Pastor Timothy Haut of Deep River Congregational Church.
Prospective adopters should plan for several hours to complete the adoption process. After completing the application (or confirming the prior online form), they’ll meet with a counselor and a trainer to discuss the type of dog that will fit their lifestyle and get answers to questions. Then it’s time to be “introduced” to the preferred dog. There’s a stop with a dog nutritionist and as well as with a veterinarian who will review the dog’s history and paperwork.
“A dog adoption is not an impulse,” advises Liesenfelt. “We want to be sure it’s a good fit, matching dog and human for a good match. If the prospective adopter already has a dog, keep your own dog in your car in a shaded area on the grounds. There will be water available for the dog and volunteers will be available to help.”
She asks that participants not bring any food or drink from home. Instead, the event will have special “fun” treats for dogs and humans alike.
When a dog is selected for adoption to live in the same home, the two dogs will participate in a Meet and Greet at the event to be sure the match will be successful,” she explained. The organization will follow-up within a week and conduct a home visit within three weeks. “We’re rehoming rescued dogs responsibly,” she said. The charity provides training for those adopting dogs, including how to use their voices to help the dog behave, with skills such as training the dog not to jump up on people.
Liesenfelt believes in the power of communication with dogs. “Using the right tone of voice with a dog is very important.” She related her experience with dogs brought in to help incarcerated women at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic for two years as part of the rehabilitation program for inmates.
“It was a very inspiring project for our charity. The inmates were amazing. We taught them how to relate to the rescue dogs by modulating their voice tone. One very quiet woman, who is now released, changed from a meek, shy person who could hardly speak to a woman positively communicating with the dogs. It transformed these women, gave them so much more confidence,” she said. Many of the women still keep in touch with her. “They are grateful for that experience. It was more than training a dog. It gave them a lot of hope. They learned how to be heard. That woman actually became a leader of the group.”
The Dog Days charity involves teens 13-17 as volunteers and dog-handlers as well as credentialed trainers. Older teens and adults become counselors to help prospective adopters.
It was his desire to get the community involved in rescuing dogs that inspired Keith A. Bolles and his family to sponsor the Dog Days event. The store has a deep history in Old Saybrook. Originally established by his grandmother Clara Bolles Zirkenbach in 1971, his father Keith F. Bolles immediately began working with her. An aunt, JoAnne Bolles Murphy, soon joined the business. Now Jane Bolles, wife and mother, and Lindsay, sister and daughter, are part of the current team. In addition to furniture, the store features home accessories, rugs, lighting, hardware, bedding and bath, and window treatments including the Hunter Douglas brand.
Remembering the dogs in his life – Flip, Sandy, and Morgan – Keith A. Bolles sees the Dog Days Adoption days as an opportunity for members of the community to help solve the over-population of shelters. But most of all, he says, “They’ll find their new best friend.”