I can’t hold it in any longer: I have the most photogenic dog ever. And now I get to celebrate his gorgeousness life-sized, forever.
There is a small chain of pet supply stores in Northern California called Pet Food Express. It’s my personal favorite, for many reasons. But one of its coolest innovations is something it calls its “My Mutt Program.”
If you donate $250 or more to a registered 501(3)c animal shelter or rescue in a given year, you can sign up for this program. You send the company proof of your donation, and fill out a form. Then they will:
1. Send a professional pet photographer to take a portrait of your pet
2. Have the best shot (you get to help choose) made into a gigantic poster, which is then professionally mounted on thick, rigid cardboard. If you adopted your pet from a shelter or rescue, the name of that place, or the organization you made your donation to, appears on the poster, along with your pet’s name.
3. Hang the poster in the Pet Food Express store of your choice for about six months.
4. At the end of this display period, you can have the poster to keep.
I do make donations of this size to my local shelter fairly regularly, but have never gotten around to applying for the My Mutt program – lazy, mostly. But early this year, some friends made a donation to my local shelter in my dog’s name, and as a gift, registered my dog for the My Mutt program!! What great friends!
This was their way of showing their appreciation for my help in locating and helping them adopt a wonderful little dog, Leroy, from my local shelter. They live 150 miles from me and have a much fancier shelter they can adopt from, but they wanted my help in choosing and evaluating a perfect candidate for them. They love their little dog, who appears to be a cattle dog/Rat Terrier-mix? He’s whip-smart and affectionate, easy-going with other people and dogs, and they love him.
In fact, they first showed their appreciation of the little guy by making a $250 donation to my shelter in Leroy’s name, and signing up for the Pet Food Express My Mutt program for Leroy! And they liked their poster so much, they decided to make another donation in Otto’s name, so I could have one, too.
It’s a smart way to inspire and encourage charitable donations to needy shelters, and a win/win/win. The shelter gets money. The owner gets an amazing poster. And the owner obviously visits the store a lot, both to see their poster on display (and point it out to friends – “That’s MY dog!!”) and has a warm, fuzzy feeling about the chain ever afterward. Plus, they get to brag to the Pet Food Express staff, “This is Otto; he was a poster dog in 2013. Perhaps you remember him; he was posing on a rock by the Bay?” And the staff is trained well enough to say, “Oh yeah! I remember him! He’s gorgeous!”
There is a Pet Food Express store in Alameda, where I used to live, but none near me, so I asked if Otto’s poster could first hang in Alameda. But I picked it up recently, and now I get to enjoy it. And I really, really do.
Thanks to Stephen and Scott; to the Northwest SPCA in Oroville, where I find all the best dogs (like Otto and Leroy); and thanks to Pet Food Express. The photography and posters cost far more than the minimum qualifying donations made to the shelters, and Pet Food Express doesn’t get a penny in direct compensation – just goodwill and, they hope, customer loyalty. Well, they’ve got mine, for good.
Check it out: