I grew up on Long Island, NY and I can’t recall a time in my life where there wasn’t a dog, cat, rabbit, squirrel or chipmunk (yes I said squirrel and chipmunk) that was not part of my life.
My mother and her mother (my grandmother) hugely influenced my attitude towards animals. Helping animals and being kind to them was encouraged in our home and started at a young age.
As a kid I remember seeing photos of my mom feeding kittens and cats while on her honeymoon in Barbados. Going to my grandmother’s house to help feed feral cats, going to the grocery store to buy peanut butter and nuts for the family of squirrels my mom saved or for the chipmunk in our backyard and spending countless hours buying food and feeding cats and dogs while we vacationed in Barbados.
1998 was the first time we vacationed in Aruba and we of course started to feed the feral cats and stray dogs that we would see on our vacations in Aruba and that hung out at Playa Linda. No leftovers went unused and our trips to the grocery store always included cans of dog and cat food (even some salmon and tuna, mom always wanted to spoil them) to feed them while we were there.
18 years later and my mother and grandmother are no longer with me (my mother passed away in 2009 after a short battle with breast cancer and her mother died shortly after in 2010 from breast cancer). However, their will to always help and be kind to animals has stuck with me.
It is because of them that I recall seeing a Facebook post in May 2015 on the Playa Linda Facebook page asking for volunteers to transport dogs back to the United States. I clicked on the Facebook page and proceeded to “like” it so I’d get updates in my news feed. I believe that it was early September 2015 that a notice went out looking for volunteers to transport a puppy and an older dog back to the US and rattled off a number of airports including BWI, which is somewhat close to my house. I contacted Marie from Aruba Flight Volunteers and said that I might be able to help. I wasn’t traveling to Aruba any time soon, but I often fly places just to get miles to keep my airline status. I think Marie thought I was insane, but in my mind, if I was going to take a flight, might as well do something good rather than hang out at an airport lounge.
Shortly after coming back from vacation in Ireland towards the end of October 2015, I packed up two huge duffle bags of food and supplies and traveled to Aruba. I arrived at 9:30 at night, got dinner, got a few hours sleep and arrived back at the airport at about 5:30am where I was greeted by Natalya and Roxanna. They were so excited and so happy that Lucy and her puppy Gracie were finally able to get home to start their new lives in America. You can tell that Natalya and Roxanna loved what they were doing and like my mom and grandmother were doing it, not for accolades, but for the simple fact that they loved these animals and cared for their wellbeing.
Once I arrived at BWI it was emotional leaving them with their new families, but so rewarding. Later that evening when I was driving home I realized that I saved two little lives. It was a great feeling! I vowed to never come home from Aruba again without bringing a dog (or cat). My husband and I transported two puppies home with us this past May.
I realized that I wanted to do more.
After my first transporting experience, I realized that this was why my mom and grandmother helped all those cats and dogs for all those years, to help save little lives. To help more in any way that I could. For years I was making dog treats for my dogs and my friends dogs and they always said that I needed to start selling them. The trademark paralegal in me started coming up with names for a possible company, conducting clearance searches for a trademark, coming up with labelling ideas and names for treats.
Finally in early May 2016 I launched Floppy Ears Dog Treat Company, LLC. The main purpose (besides making really tasty, natural dog treats) is to allow me to donate even more money to animal rescues in the United States and Aruba. At least 20% of the profits will be donated quarterly to animal rescues in the United States and Aruba. From June through the end of September 2016 donations will be going to two rescues in Aruba, New Life for Paws (www.newlifeforpaws.org) and Nisi Canis Heart of Gold (www.nisicanisheartofgold.com). These two organizations are simply AMAZING! Natalya, Stacy, Marie and Roland work tirelessly to help the dogs and cats of Aruba. I am so glad to start off our donation campaign with them.
From now until the end of September we are running a special for all Cunucu parents and supporters.
If you shop at our Etsy store, https://www.etsy.com/shop/FloppyEarsDogTreatCo, enter CUNUCU10 and receive 10% off of the purchase of your bag of treats. We will also be holding a raffle in the upcoming weeks. Winner will get four bags of our treats. All of the proceeds from the raffle will be going to New Life for Paws and Nisi Canis Heart of Gold.
I am glad I was able to share with the New Life for Paws supporters a little bit about why I chose to volunteer.
You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook at @getfloppytreats.