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Sellwood team scores big at OHS 'Doggie Dash'

For the second consecutive year, team “JabberWalkies”, led by Sellwood resident Renée Stilson and her 12-year-old Australian shepherd/Blue heeler mix Kassie, took first place at the Oregon Humane Society’s (OHS) annual fund-raiser, the Doggie Dash.

“It’s really fabulous that the JabberWalkies doubled their contributions for the animals from last year, due in large part to Stilson’s driving force behind the team and her partnership with Pet Loft,” exclaimed OHS Public Affairs Manager and Eastmoreland resident David Lytle. “Thanks to their hard work, the OHS is a ‘whisker away’ from reaching their $450,000 goal for the Dash.”

In 2009, Stilson and Kassie began walking and gabbing with a group of eight friends and their dogs in Laurelhurst Park. They named themselves the JabberWalkies, after the poem by Lewis Carroll, and formed a team to walk in the 2009 OHS Doggie Dash.

by: JUDY NELSON - Renee Stilson, the organizer and head of the JabberWalkies team from Sellwood that for the second consecutive year was the fund-raising leader in the OHS benefit Doggie Dash in downtown Portland, is shown with her dog, Kassie.Stilson partnered with Sellwood resident Bill Lapolla, owner of Pet Loft at 6333 S.W. Macadam Avenue. Lapolla agreed to sponsor the JabberWalkies, donated team T-shirts, and secured donations for OHS from 800 customers. Stilson had the team T-shirts printed with the JabberWalkie logo, and made matching bandanas for the dogs.

The JabberWalkies managed to double last year’s donation to total $22,600, winning the trophy again for highest dollar amount raised by a non-OHS team. Their trophy resides at Pet Loft.

Stilson coached team members on how to successfully raise money and invest in the team. Team member Kay Dietrick, who previously raised $50 for the event, this time raised $1,100 to support the animals. The top fundraiser on the team was Sitara Malerba from Pet Loft, who raised $7,100.

Lapolla’s motivation and enthusiasm, combined with Stilson’s logistical expertise, produced results – but Stilson credits the JabberWalkies’ enthusiasm and drive to raise money for OHS. “Bill and I are Aquarians who share the trait of being humanitarian-driven to do good in the world,” said Stilson, who applied her marketing expertise and love of animals.

In fact, animals are also her profession. Stilson moved to Portland from Colorado in 2001, where she was a home-care occupational therapist. She’s lived in Sellwood for the past two years with her husband Mack and dog Kassie, plus two cats named Amelie and Pixie, and a bunny named Clover.

Stilson started her pet-sitting business “Home Sweet Home” in 1999. “The next best thing to you” is how she describes how her in-home care for pets, making their lives as normal as possible so pet owners can be worry-free when they’re away from home.

A typical day for Stilson starts at 7 am, and often ends as late as 10 pm. She also mentors a group called Pick of the Litter. They meet monthly (except in summer) as part of a continuing education program for pet-care providers. Recent topics include animal CPR and disaster preparedness. “I enjoy mentoring and training pet sitters. There’s always a need for more people in this occupation,” Stilson said.

The downsides to a pet sitting occupation include weather extremes (heat, cold, rain) and long hours. But she’s successfully managed her business and enjoys the work. For more information, go online to: www.homesweethomepdx.com – or call 503/310-7105.