Have you ever really considered what it must be like to sleep in a shelter? Volunteers at the Maui Humane Society got to experience it for just one night when they snuggled up to shelter dogs at the MHS’s first ever Shelter Slumber Party!
Director of Development & Community Outreach for MHS, Nancy Willis tells iHeartDogs that their inspiration came from another rescue.
“I actually heard about another shelter in the Midwest that did it last year. It was a fundraising event however there definitely seemed to be an ‘emotional’ component to it, however I don’t think anyone knew how magical and amazing the night would be.”
Staff hand-picked 14 attendees from a list of people who had already established themselves as dedicated volunteers with the Maui Humane Society. They were invited to choose their “top 3” dogs to spend the night with, and shelter staff made some match-making magic with their picks.
“We looked at donors, business supporters, volunteers and staff. We were looking for the right combination of folks who we knew would really be motivated to get as much as they could in donations but who would also have fun with it.”
“Our Animal Care Technician Rachael works with all of our dogs day in and day out and knows everything about them. There were many factors that went into her selection process and she was very careful to ensure that the dog that were selected would enjoy the experience which they all did. We sent a list of all of the dogs to the participants and asked for their top 3 choices (or if no preference) and then she started matching them up”
Volunteers were also invited to bring a few comforts from home to make the kennels a bit cozier – and some ran away with the idea and took it much further!
“Decorating the kennels was just an idea that we gave the 14 participants in way to let them have ownership of the night and to make this a fun experience. We couldn’t believe how everyone came prepared for the evening…
“from everything to couches and to yoga mats, decorating with themes such as sports and we even had one participant (our CEO Jerleen Bryant) who had a small fireplace in her kennel to give it a homey feeling for her pup ‘Bella.’”
One talented volunteer brought his guitar along and seranaded his new friend, Mana. Mana was found as a stray and recently had an eye removed. He was lively when the night began, but when Jeff began strumming, he settled in and listened to the music.
Watch Jeff perfom “Shelter” here. You may recognize the tune but the words were written with a shelter dog in mind!
All the guests were also asked to commit to raising a minimum amount of $1,500 for the shelter. By the end of the night they had managed to go above and beyond, helping the shelter raise more than their original goal!
“Each volunteer was asked to commit to raising a minimum of $1,500 each and almost everyone far surpassed that goal. Many participants even got businesses to sponsor and they were allowed to put up business logos in their kennels.
“We raised over $47,000 that night and our ‘high bar’ goal was $40,000 however I don’t know if we truly thought we would reach that goal.”
Finally, after the party settled down, it was time to snuggle up and get to bed. Check out some of these photos of cozy, comfy pups!
“There were some real love connections happening that night and it was really hard for everyone to say goodbye to their pups the next morning! A couple of the participants even ended up fostering their slumber party mates and I know other are actively promoting their pups on theirp personal FB pages in an attempt to find them their forever homes. There were some real connections made that night.”
The event was a huge success – both for the fundraiser and for getting the word out about their dogs! In the morning volunteers were woken up with coffee and a new sense of what it means to live as a dog in a shelter. One shared her thoughts (and her bed at home!) the following day:
“My heart is full and my eyes are open from this amazing experience of spending a night in the life of a shelter dog. While it was incredibly fun and entertaining, I learned so much!! As I laid there after lights out, snuggled up close to sweet Rosie, I listened to the sound of the traffic, the other dogs barking in the back (probably wishing they had a human to snuggle up to) and even heard the scurry of little critters on the kennel roof. It was cool, and we probably would have been a bit cold had we not had a cushy bed with pillows & blankets. I imagined how lonely it must feel in their kennel all by themselves. Although for some of these pups, our shelter must feel like the Four Seasons compared to being lost and alone on the street. I got to experience first hand what a little love and attention does to help bring these scared and confused babies out of there shell. When they start to relax and feel safe, and learn to trust again. It was life changing.
“I participated in this experience because I believe every animal deserves a second chance. And with all of your generous donations and support, I know in my heart we can give them that. Rosie and I said our prayers last night and thanked each and every one of you for your generosity and compassion. I am so grateful and blessed to know you and am honored to be associated with all of the AMAZING staff and volunteers at Maui Humane Society. They ALL did an amazing job supporting us last night, as did the other participants. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. After this experience, I am more motivated than ever to do everything I can to support, foster, and bring awareness to our community…because I know they listen and act too. Together we can make a difference!!
“PS: Little Rosie is scheduled to fly to the mainland on Wednesday with Wings of Aloha to find her forever home, so I’ve decided to share my bed at home with her until she flies. The slumber party continues….”
See more slumber party clips and pics on Maui Humane Society’s Facebook page. Visit their website to learn more about their adoptable pets, and consider donating – they’re already planning another party for next year!
Mana, the sweet pup in the plaid pajamas in the video above has since been adopted! Nancy Willis with the Maui Humane Society sent us this email and photo:
“His new family said that they saw his video and that prompted them to come to the shelter to meet him! Dreams do come true!”
Bonus: MHS has shared Jeff’s lyrics with us, in case you’d like to sing your dog a lullaby!
Tell me something boy
Have you been trying hard to find some joy
Do you want more?
To find the loving you’ve been searching for
Don’t give up
Somebody out there’s going to lift you up
And take you home
Forever after you won’t feel alone
So baby don’t worry, no need to hurry
There’s no reason for feeling down
People here love you They’ll take good care of you
You’re safe in the shelter now
NOTE: if singing to a girl, then first 2 lines are:
Tell me something girl
Have you been struggling living in this world?
All photos provided by Maui Humane Society
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