I often wondered if dogs remember their litter mates or rescuers. Thanks to an annual picnic of retired greyhounds, I know the answer. Each year my beloved racer reunites with her brother and foster parents, and it's always an exciting day - for all of us. I'm grateful to attend an annual greyhound reunion where volunteers get to see the hounds with their loving parents. The rescue arranges a meeting place, lunch, costume contests and silent auctions to raise funds for the dogs. But, the best part is to watch my dog push anxiously through the crowd to be reunited with her litter mate and rescue angels, once again.
Here's how you can plan a reunion for your adopted dog. Let the volunteers who loved them first see how their hard work paid off by witnessing the bond between rescue pets and owners.
Select a Date and Location
Coordinating dates with available locations can be a challenge, so start early and recruit help. Estimate the attendance for your reunion; then inquire at local public and private venues for suitable space if your shelter cannot accommodate your needs. Look for a pet-friendly environment with hard-surface flooring that can be easily cleaned, overhead shelter from the weather, outdoor space for dog walking, restroom facilities and ample space for attendees. Remember to contact your local municipality for required permits or restrictions, if any.
Use adoption records from your rescue group to create a mailing list for reunion invitations, and encourage the group to post the event info on their website. Create a simple, yet eye-catching circular for an inexpensive postal mailing and an electronic version for email. Be sure to include the reunion name, date, time, location and a highlight of events in your mailing to entice adoptive parents to come with their pets.
Staffing and Events
Like dogs, reunions come in all different sizes. For large events, you might want to have an event coordinator. For smaller gatherings, make sure to enlist volunteers to help with the details from planning to clean up. You can also host events like costume parties or dog-friendly competitions for fun or to raise money for the shelter with entrance fees.
Set Up and Tear Down
Recruit a crew of volunteers for set up and tear down duties. At least two hours before the event, signs should be placed to direct attendees to the location, rescue banners should be mounted; event, food and clean up stations should be readied for use. After the event, another crew of volunteers is needed to tear down the elements used and give the location a proper cleaning to ensure you'll be welcome to use the venue again in the future.
Don't forget to take lots of pictures during your reunion. Post the pictures with an article on the rescue's website or create a post-event press mailing to thank everyone for their participation.