Humorist Celia Rivenbark published a column recently recounting her experience judging a fundraising dog show, complete with doggy costumes.  It turns out, though, that Celia prefers cats.  She found herself wondering how much “designer cat food it would take for a cat, any cat, to put up with this sort of thing.”

Not me!

Despite several hardcore, cat-promoting relatives, whose “gifts” from their kitties totally freak me out, I remain a dog lady through and through and a dog lady delighted to judge the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society’s dog show for the second year in a row.  FAPS—the very acronym conjures up flappy ears and wagging tails—is our community’s no-kill shelter for homeless animals, promoting adoption and responsible pet ownership.  FAPS is completely funded with private dollars.

So, on a lovely Sunday afternoon last month dog lovers and the objects of their affections gathered on the lush green grass of Heritage Square in downtown Fayetteville for “Puttin’ On the Dog.”  Contestants were mostly rescue dogs, many adopted from FAPS.   Categories included “Gorgeous Girls,” “Handsome Guys,” “Owner Look-Alike,” and “Best in Show.”  Judging was excruciating, but somehow we five judges managed.  Food trucks and baked goods helped ease our distress.

What came through clearly at “Puttin’ On the Dog” is that the folks who made the effort to get downtown during the Dogwood Festival, who paid $5 to enter their dogs in the contest, and who in many cases dressed up their beloved pets and themselves for the occasion adore their dogs and vice versa.  Nary a dogfight occurred, but plenty of hugging, kissing, and licking did—a treat for all to see.  

Sadly, not everyone is so loving, and FAPS, which has been around for more than three decades, can tell stories that will break your heart about abandoned and mistreated animals.  FAPS accommodates 60 dogs and 25 cats at a time at its shelter off Bragg Boulevard, and thousands of them have found lifetime homes over the years.  But FAPS can do only so much, and about 8000 animals are euthanized in Cumberland County every year.  As one devoted FAPS volunteer puts it, “We try to rescue all we can from them, but that’s a BIG number!”

My own “Gorgeous Girl,” Lilly the Lab, and I have been a team for 11 years now, and she and all her predecessors from the time I was a preschooler have enriched my life beyond measure.  They have also eaten my shoes and done unspeakable things to my rugs, smiling and wagging all along.  Even when the desire is there, not all of us are in positions to adopt a lifetime pet, but that does not mean we cannot help.  FAPS could not do the work it does without volunteers who donate time, talent, and treasure.  FAPS’s needs for food, toys, collars, leashes, and other pet supplies are ongoing, as are folks to get dogs out for a little exercise.  Lilly and I recently took a pile of old towels to FAPS, ones we no longer used at home but which would be just fine for drying wet critters.  Cash donations are always appropriate, of course, as is that ultimate gift that, a loving and permanent home for an animal who needs and deserves one.

I promise you will get more from a FAPS adoptee than you will ever provide, and here are some pictures from “Puttin’ On the Dog” to prove it.  

Enjoy!  Somehow, I think even Celia would, too.

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