Happy Memorial Day! Our Muttville founder, Sherri Franklin, is the featured credo in this week’s Sunday San Francisco Examiner!
Rachelle Phillips, a USF student and aspiring filmmaker, honored Muttville with an inspirational and upbeat 7-minute documentary that captured the essence of our organization’s mission to educate and rescue senior dogs. She did a great job learning about us. We wanted to learn more about Rachelle!
Tell us about yourself and what you are studying/majoring in at USF.
I grew up in Santa Rosa, CA, as the oldest of three and always had to be the shining example. I got excellent grades all through school, and realized in high school that I’m quite the skilled writer. That made me want to pursue a career in journalism, and I ended up being editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper. When it came time to pick a college, all I knew was that I needed to be in San Francisco. I ended up at USF and am currently a Media Studies major, and a Journalism and Film double-minor. I now work for the school newspaper, the San Francisco Foghorn, and hopefully will work for a media company after I graduate!
What was the assignment?
This documentary was our final project, and it was to create (film, produce, edit) a documentary of better quality than our first. We were supposed have put our best learned skills to the test.
What’s your history/background with animals/dogs?
I’ve always had an obsession with animals. I brought my first pet home in a paper bag from Safeway! There was a woman sitting outside the store selling off her kittens, and my Mom said we could have one because we did not have any other animals. I brought home my first kitten, Spooky, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Throughout the years I’ve had every pet imaginable; hamsters, rats, fish, snakes, snails, rabbits, lizards, and many more cats were added to the collection. Sadly, I’ve never had a dog :( My Dad was bit by one when he was little, so his childhood trauma caused my lack of a canine companion. So to fill the void, I got a job at a local family-owned pet store in my hometown and worked there for 4 years. I then had to quit and move to San Francisco for school, and amazingly I was able to find a job at Pawtrero Hill Bathhouse & Feed Co., which is where I currently work. I get to play with dogs every day now :)
How did you decide to make Muttville the subject of your thesis?
I wanted to do my documentary on Muttville because I know about the seriousness of animal shelters and what is happening to dogs and cats. I get infuriated when people do not fix their dogs because they want to breed them to make a profit, especially when so many animals are being euthanized in shelters. It also makes me very sad when I go to shelters and see older dogs and cats waiting to be taken home, which many times does not happen. I love my cat Spooky (now 18 and a half years old) more than anything and I know that even though she is a senior, she has so much more love in her to give! It’s important that people know that senior animals are still amazing, so getting Muttville’s name out there is something that I feel passionate about.
How did you learn about Muttville?
I learned about Muttville from working at Pawtrero. They have a little Muttville pin tacked up behind our counter, and I asked what it was for. They said “oh it’s Muttville. They rescue senior dogs.” I was interested!
What are your career aspirations?
I would love to work in a media position, doing anything along the lines of writing, filming, editing, etc. Maybe working for an animal magazine or filming animal productions!
Anything else about you that Muttville would love to know?
I loved doing my project on Muttville! I’m so happy that Amanda and I were able to work together to make it happen, and that everything turned out great. Muttville should be publicized as much as possible, you guys do an amazing thing and people need to know about it :)
Here’s her wonderful Muttville video:
From our youngest volunteer, Ella:
Hi, I am Ella. I am 12 and a 7th grade student in SF and a Muttville volunteer. I find that being at Muttville and working with all of the amazing dogs gives me a feeling of happiness and pride. All of the other volunteers and foster parents are so nice, kind and supportive that I always feel comfortable there. The dogs are so sweet. But it’s hard when they get adopted. For instance, I loved one of the dogs named Bee Gee and he was the sweetest. And then he got adopted. I felt so sad I cried. But on the other hand, I was happy that he found a home with people that would love him. In a way, I’m happy because now I can finally understand how to appreciate these dogs, knowing they may find homes in places other than my heart.
It was another incredible weekend for the Muttville dogs.
On Saturday we were grateful to have the space in front of our friends at fit Bernal fit and of course our dogs were a hit because, hey, it’s Bernal Heights! That’s where I live and I picked it because Bernal loves dogs. We’re so honored that fit Bernal fit donated 50% of all new sign-up fees to their gym to Muttville that day. Thank you!
And Sunday Mill Valley – what can I say. Mill Valley loves their dogs, there’s no question. I was so exhausted from the event on Saturday that I asked Hannah to drive up to Mill Valley – here she is pictured, our chauffeur for the day. We had a ton of adoptions this weekend, Hannah included!
Even with all the events, we still have many wonderful senior dogs listed on our website. If you’d like to meet someone, please email us and we can set up a meeting for you and the foster family. It’s never too late for a new beginning!
“I think I have to write about death,” I said.
To this, my friend replied with silence.
“Have you ever lost a pet?” I asked.
“I’d rather not talk about it,” said my friend, gently and apologetically.
This is the way in which he chose to engage in life in that moment. With fear.
I recently spent time with a well-traveled woman who had just spent 60 days in Zimbabwe – she was completely off the grid for 30 of those days. Her friends and family had no idea if she was alive or dead, for 30 heart-wrenching days. She spoke to me of her love of the country, of her plans to return and help, however she could.
“People have said that I have a death wish,” she told me. “But it’s a life wish.”
A life wish!
That, I am convinced, is what people who come to Muttville have. A life wish. People who adopt Muttville dogs talk about the dogs they’ve lost, they dogs they still have, and the dogs they will have (loved, love, will love). We do not live in fear. We engage in life.
If you have adopted from Muttville, you know this about yourself: You have a life wish. Pat yourself on the back. Thank you for coming to Muttville.
A note from Manoel, the man who adopted Beethoven from Muttville –
“Fuzziwan Kenobi. Ludfuzz von Biscuit. Sir Marshmellow McFuzzybutt. These are some of the monikers that have been affectionately bestowed on Beethoven, an extremely fuzzy, gentle 13 year old senior dog I adopted from Muttville a few months ago. He is deaf, mostly blind, has bad skin, hind legs that are pretty shot, and cancer.
I wasn’t sure about getting a dog, but had decided that, with the prospect of taking care of aging parents and maybe children someday, that it was time to learn to take care of something that couldn’t take care of itself. But I also knew that I didn’t have much time or energy to devote to playing or exercising a young frisky dog, and I didn’t have the money for a lot of care. But I knew I could give an old dog a warm, safe, restful home for his final months (years?). So Beethoven was perfect, since his favorite activity is sleeping.
I was really happy dealing with Muttville. Stephanie, his foster mom has been helpful and generous with her time and advice, and Sherri Franklin has been most generous in subsidizing his medication and grooming.
Beethoven has given me connections and insights that previously weren’t there. I know so many more of my dog-loving neighbors and everyone from society ladies to homeless people are always delighted to give LvB (I insist he’s named after the composer NOT the movie) a head scratch and some cooing love.
My girlfriend recently adopted a young frisky overweight dog, and watching these two dogs learn to get along has been a wonderful, bonding “coparenting” experience.
Mostly Beethoven has made me look at my own aging father with renewed empathy. I see how much Beethoven was once a proud, beautiful lion, and how he can’t do what he once could as a young pup: navigate stairs, play catch. I see him trying to keep up with the younger dogs, and I see my own father’s struggles with his diminished capacities. Beethoven reminds me of a dignified old college professor or Shakespearean actor who, in his old age, had to move to the Tenderloin, but still insists on wearing a bow tie every morning!
I must confess that getting an older dog was also a way of easing into dog ownership. I wanted to see how I would like it, and reasoned, perhaps morbidly, that if i didn’t really take to it, a dog in his condition would not be around for 10 more years. Silly me, I am now of course, head over heels in love with him, and I know it will break my heart when the time comes for him to sleep for the last time. But I know he will live the rest of his days in a comfortable safe place, and I want to thank everyone at Muttville for the combination retriever-bernese-chow-buffalo-camel-lion ball of fur that is snoozing in my living room as I write this.”
Written by our star foster mom, Stephanie -
“It has been a wonderful experience to witness Beethoven’s beautiful transformation from a defeated dog who had lost the wag in his tail to this proud boy who bravely marched his way over to the opposite end of the spectrum of happiness. As soon as he stepped paw through Muttville’s doors and was reintroduced to love and proper care, this amazing change began to take place. His tail gradually started to move back and forth again, he regained that sparkle in those soulful eyes and out arose a deep and profound gentleness. Soon after his triumphant victory over the heartworms that had infested his neglected body, we discovered that he was living with cancer. But by then, he had found his happy again and this precious soul was determined to land himself that forever home. And after many months of waiting patiently, he crossed paths with this special someone who has taken him under his wing in an extraordinary act of kindness and love. A living symbol of resiliance, Beethoven finally got his…”
Little Frankie, rescued by Muttville 2 years ago and adopted a year ago by volunteer Patty Stanton, is a rising star these days! His first claim to fame was his role in Muttville’s signature video called “The Story of Muttville”. A year later, he was cast as a dog dancing student in the soon-to-be-released family movie, “Doggie Boogie”. This past April, he completed a photo shoot as one of five doggy models for Waghearted Lifestyle Company, a locally-based dog apparel company. And this month, he is featured in the June issue of Dog Fancy Magazine in an article called “Shelter to Star: Frankie on the Dance Floor”. And let’s also not forget that he is one of the lucky mutts photographed with our “Mutt Mom”, Sherri Franklin, in the May issue of Family Circle!
What’s next for our little star? I guess we’ll just have to ask his talent agent!
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