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Our Barkworthy series spotlights organizations, events, and individuals who help make the world a better place for dogs and their people.

While the Bill and Melinda Gateses of the world do amazing things with their wealth and influence, sometimes the heroes who impress me most are those who help others just by dedicating their everyday talents and skills to help make a difference. Pilots N Paws is an awesome organization made up of just such people — pilots and private plane owners who donate their time, skills, and equipment to help transport adoptable animals to loving foster and forever homes.

Based in South Carolina, Pilots N Paws assists with animal transports all over the country. Recently, on September 18th, Pilots N Paws joined with Subaru of America for the Gulf Coast Rescue Flyway — which, in one day, helped save 171 dogs from euthanasia by transporting them to safe harbors throughout the country. Awesome!

You can read more about the recent Gulf Coast rescue and Pilots N Paws other barkworthy work on their web site.

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If Mickey and Kayloo look familiar to you, you might know them from the hilare blog their mom writes, Fido & Wino. Mickey and Kayloo hail from British Columbia, Canada (our first Canadian Best Phriends!) and are a ridiculously cute and ridiculously hilarious pair.

Name: Mickey
Age: 2 yrs 2 months
Breed(s): Chihuahua cross
Arrival story: We (ignorantly) bought Mickey through a broker. It was after this experience we learned of the importance of adopting from a shelter/rescue.

Favorite food: Cheese
Special talents or skills: He is the perfect gentleman on leash
Best trick: “Buddha” (sitting pretty) and then he falls straight down into “down.” It’s hilARious.
Best friend: Kayloo

If your pup were in high school, who would he/she sit with at lunch? Jocks, nerds, freaks, preps, gleeks, etc.? Mickey would sit by himself because other people are stupid.

Name: Kayloo
Age: 1 yr 8 months
Breed(s): Pittie/collie cross (she’s a rescue, so we’re not exactly sure of her mix)
Arrival story: After we got Mickey, we knew we wanted to get him a buddy. We spent lots of time on Petfinder.com… and then we saw Kayloo’s picture and fell in love, went to meet her and all her gangly goofiness, and fell in love some more.  Then she came to our house for a home visit and puked all over our floor, and we fell in love a hundred times over.

Favorite food: All of it
Special talents or skills: She can tilt her head so far she almost twists it right off
Favorite toy: She likes chewing on Mickey
Most annoying habit: Farting
Best friend: Mickey

If your pup were in high school, who would he/she sit with at lunch? EVERYONE. Seriously. All the kids would invite her to their parties, the toughest teachers would give her extra marks so she would pass, the lunch lady would give her free jello…. and she would love them all equally. AND she would make sure Mickey always got an invite.

Kayloo inspired a project called the R.O.A.R. Squad. It stands for Rescue Owners Are Rockin’, and the whole idea is to make adopting a rescue THE coolest thing around. We’re looking for at least one rescue owner from every state in the US and every province in Canada by April 2011. Have a rescue? Join us!

If you’d like your pup(s) to be part of our Best Phriends gang, just send an email with your name and the name(s) of your pup(s) to bestphriends[at]gmail[dot]com.

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This post is part of an ongoing series here on phetched called Barkworthy, where we highlight organizations and groups that are doing good things for dogs and dog lovers.

As shelters across our state face massive overcrowding situations, North Carolina’s Pet Foster Network serves an invaluable purpose: they help to connect willing foster families with pups who need a temporary place to stay while they wait for their forever homes. Knowing that every open space in a shelter or rescue saves a life, the Pet Foster Network (based in Raleigh, NC) strives to educate citizens on the crucial role that foster families play and support those who are willing to open their homes to an adoptable pet in need.

For residents of North Carolina, there’s information on the Pet Foster Network web site on how you can sign up to help. For those who don’t live in North Carolina but wish to foster, PFN encourages you to search your ZIP code on Petfinder for local rescues and shelters in search of foster families.

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Painter Gwen Fox had earned recognition and accolades for her abstract impressionism before she ever decided to paint a dog. Grief-stricken at the loss of her heart dog, a German shepherd named Annie, she set about to paint Annie’s portrait. Finding the process both inspiring and healing, she began painting pups from the local humane society. The resulting shelter dog series is all at once beautiful and heartbreaking.

Says Fox on her blog:

I decided to do a portrait of this gorgeous spirit [Annie] and discovered I could translate the feeling within the dog. In other words, I painted its personality… I went to the local Humane Society and walked down long rows of lost souls. Some forgotten on purpose while others were sure their owners were coming any minute… Their faces tell it all — how could anyone not love these dogs? Doing this series has been a huge blessing. What have I learned? I have learned that dogs speak.  They are proud, they are scared, they are screaming for us to care. The young ones just look and say “let’s play”….. totally unaware of their circumstances.

Sorry for making you cry on a Monday at all.

Gwen lives in Colorado Springs, CO. You can check out more of her work on her website and blog.

(Thanks, Ann, for the find!)

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This made the rounds a week or so ago, but I’m still laughing at it.

At a recent Northwest Arkansas Naturals game, a local shelter pup was being featured as the “Adoptable Pet of the Game.” During the game, the pup gets loose, and hilarity ensues… as does pooping.

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I have a distinct memory of standing with my mother in an art museum somewhere at a youngish age, looking at abstract art (I think Mark Rothko) and stating, “Well, I don’t get what the big deal is. That doesn’t look like anything. I mean, even I could do that.” And then my mom replied, “Well, good. Do it and make a ton of money.”

And the thing is, even though I’m older and supposedly wiser now, I still don’t get it when it comes to a lot of abstract art. (Still lookin’ at you, Mark Rothko.) And am I so wrong? I mean, I’m not trying to be ignorant or insulting here, but I just think you could hang some of Mozart Dane‘s work right alongside some museum pieces and a lot of people wouldn’t even get suspicious. I’m amazed at how the bright colors mix together with seeming purpose to end up looking like, well, something.

Mozart, a 5-year-old Great Dane, paints with his paws using acrylic on canvas. A discarded puppy bred in an Amish puppy mill, Mozart was given a second chance at life and happiness at Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue in Bethel, Ohio. Now Mozart, still healing from the physical and emotional trauma he suffered in the puppy mill, serves as the spokesdog for HHGCR, and all the proceeds from sales of his work go to help homeless animals and raise awareness of the horrors of irresponsible and inhumane breeding.

You can read more about Mozart’s story and mission and see more of his work here.

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The formal mission statement of HeARTs Speak, founded in early 2010, is “to unite the individual efforts of animal artists and animal rescues into collective action for social change.” Really, though, it’s simpler than that — get pets adopted.

Knowing that quality, professional-looking photographs help increase the appeal and adoptability of shelter pets, this group of photographers and artists are donating their talents to rescues and shelters to help dispel the myth that shelter pets are “inferior in some way,” increase adoptions, and thus decrease euthanizations.

For more information, including opportunities to help and donate, visit HeARTs Speak’s web site and fan them on Facebook.

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Y’all might have seen this on The Bark’s blog yesterday. The U.S. Postal Service has announced the release of a new set of stamps designed to bring awareness and attention to animal rescue. The stamps, designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, feature photographs by Sally Andersen-Bruce of former (now adopted!) shelter pets in New Milford, Conn.

Oh, sorry. For those of you younger folks still trying to catch up: See, stamps are these things you put on letters and other things you send through the mail. Still confused? Hmm. Google it?

The stamps are part of a campaign called Stamps to the Rescue in partnership with Ellen DeGeneres and Halo pet foods looking to provide meals and homes to adoptable pets. The stamps won’t officially be released until April 30th, but you can pre-order them now from the Postal Service.

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I always hear that rescue dogs know how lucky they are to have escaped the shelter and find a forever home and show their gratitude each and every day to their adopters.

Well, I’ve got two rescue dogs, and they strut around here like they own the place. Currently, as I type, Mingus is sleeping stretched out on the couch like a contortionist such that he’s taking up almost every inch of its surface (he’s only a 37-pound dog), and Dottie’s staring and making groany noises ’cause we’re within an hour window of her scheduled feeding time. Lucky dogs.

Maybe I should get them a lucky charm collar tag from Mascot to help remind them of their humble beginnings?

The cast brass collar charms come in the shape of wishbones, horseshoes, and four-leaf clovers (but, sadly, no pink hearts, yellow moons, or blue diamonds).

Fetch them at Mascot.

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