Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Fido finds friends in Touchstone School students

by: VERN UYETAKE From left, Touchstone students Sam Chiu, Larrissa Chan, Alex Morrow and Miranda Krump put some finishing touches on their dog house.

A good motto for Fences For Fido might be 'No Sad Dogs.'

The nonprofit organization works like this: Volunteers see a poor dog at the end of a chain in a yard, and so they build it a fence for free, then throw in an insulated and elevated doghouse. The result: a happy dog.

In just two years Fences For Fido has produced more than 220 such happy dog stories.

Kelly Peterson of Multnomah Village is the founder of this remarkable dog philanthropy project, and she has been amazed by its progress.

'We started two years ago with the goal of building one fence a month,' Peterson said. 'There were 10 other women who joined me. Now we have 1,000 volunteers and we're building eight fences a month. It's a wonderful thing to see a dog free for the first time, and we're getting more people joining us all the time.'

For all of FFF's sudden and stunning success, the organization is now beginning a whole new era of happy dog making, thanks to students like those in the fifth and sixth grades at Lake Oswego's Touchstone School.

Near the end of October, 31 local students and their teacher, Linda Moore, helped Fido launch its new 'Color My World' doghouse painting community service program. Thanks to them, three dogs will be safe and warm through the wet, cold days of winter. And many more dogs will surely follow.

'They chose the first three dogs on our waiting list: Krissy, Jasper and Buddy,' Peterson said. 'They immediately connected with them as soon as they saw their pictures. The kids painted the doghouses, they sketched, they worked in teams. They're little artists. Creatively, they're so impressive.'

Peterson knew her new program would be a winner when she asked the kids the question: 'Is your pet your best friend?'

'Everyone raised their hands,' Peterson said. 'The kids feel the deepest connection to their dogs.'

The Lake Oswego connection for this endeavor was Patti Loverink, mother of a Touchstone fifth-grader and certainly one of the great dog lovers of our time, even by Lake Oswego standards. Loverink has an exciting story of how she joined Fences For Fido.

'We were driving on a Sunday when I saw this chocolate lab running loose on the highway,' Loverink said. 'I got him into my car and found his family. His name was Dodger and he was a young guy who wanted to run.

'I saw a story about Fences For Fido, so I called them. I asked them, 'Is there anything you can do?' '

Of course, there was. Dodger soon had his own fence and was running around safely.

'Fences For Fido is such a great organization,' Loverink said. 'They give their time and their energy, and they make such a tangible difference.

'It was very gratifying to see our kids get involved and see how they're so understanding of the plight of dogs who live at the end of chains. They could really change the future of tethering. They can be part of the process with us.'

The Touchstone students are just like the adults in Fences For Fido. They like to see a dog dance around and smile. The dog owners are happy, too.

'The families hug us, and they're often tearful,' Peterson said.

As for FFF's Color My World, the future is bright.

Peterson said, 'Now that we've rolled out this pilot program we're going to continue with interested schools in Clackamas County and Marion County.'

For more information about Fences For Fido, go to www.fencesforfido.org .