Monday, September 30, 2013

Laurie Gaetano & Oliver

Who is in the photo at right?

Hello! My name is Laurie Gaetano (better known as "Oliver's Mom") and this is my best friend for the past 4 years, Oliver. He is a five year old Havanese I rescued from our local (high) kill shelter in May 2009. I have a fun greeting card (real cards - not ecards!) and gifting business that I work from home or anywhere, with my laptop and phone.

I am also on the Board of newly formed non-profit, Pima Paws For Life. We just launched our website and Facebook page in June. We are working to establish Southern Arizona's largest Adoption Guarantee Shelter, so that we can save thousands of our homeless pets that needlessly die every year at our local animal control.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Oliver goes everywhere with me, so of course, coffee on the patio is no exception! Today, we are here meeting a local business owner interested in learning more about how he can add appreciation marketing to his successful business practice. I will take him to my website, and have him click the "Send a free card" button so he can experience for himself how easy it is to send out appreciation to others. He sees the vision right away and becomes a "Preferred Customer" within 15 mins of our meeting. I've taken a picture of him and Oliver (who he has spent a lot of time admiring) and later I will send him a card with that picture on the front to thank him for his time and business. I invite all of your readers to be my guest, and send a free card to someone they care about today!

What's brewing?

When it's summer in the desert I will usually enjoy whatever it is brewing - iced! Today, it's a delicious iced Chai Latte. Oliver sticks with his usual, water.

Any treats for you or Oliver on this occasion?

Oliver has much more self control than I do when it comes to treats, believe it or not.

How were you and Oliver united?

Please follow this link to Oliver's Adoption Story.

How did Oliver get his name? Any aliases?

Pima County Animal Control gave him the name "Toby" since he had no tag or microchip when he was plucked off of a busy intersection in town. He looked like an Oliver to me. I think he reminded me of the sweet orphaned boy from my favorite childhood movie, Oliver. One of the first things everybody says after meeting him is, "he looks like an Oliver!" (I bet your readers are saying the same thing now!)

That's a handsome photo of Oliver on Pima County's new dog licensing campaign poster. Was it difficult getting Oliver to strike that pose, or is he a natural?

Oliver is definitely a natural in front of the camera, but doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. Just to be clear, the campaign photo was shot by a talented local photographer, Ann-Eve Cunningham. I can only take credit for the look of adoring love in his eyes, as he always makes sure not to lose sight of me. We are pretty much inseparable!

Has Oliver done much other media work?

I learned very early on how photogenic he is, and the emotions his photographs evoke in people when contacted me via Facebook after seeing a picture I posted of him on their wall. They chose him out of thousands to appear on the home page of their website and national media marketing materials [image right]. He's also appeared on the homepage of AOL a handful of times, representing them. I just recently got word that he will be featured in Brown Trout Publishers 2014 Havanese Calendar.

Would you tell us about the work you and Oliver do as a pet therapy team?

We have been a Certified Pet Therapy team through the Humane Society of Southern AZ's (Pet VIP Program) for the last 2 years and actively participate in offsite events and regular visits to a couple of Senior Care Homes and Tucson Medical Center. You can learn more about the program and the work we do on my blog. It's something we both always very much look forward to!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Definitely squeaky-toy or most any furry toy that makes noise. Oddly enough, he also enjoys playing with cat toys and has been known to pick out and carry a toy mouse around the store as we shop at PetSmart.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Oliver loves cats. We regularly foster kittens/cats, and Oliver [with foster kitty Clementine, photo right] is the most loving, nurturing caregiver.

Does Oliver have a favorite place to go for outings?

Oliver loves anywhere we go where he can run on some grass. I just took him (in May) for the first time to Ocean Beach, CA to celebrate our 4 year "Oliversary" (a friend coined the term and it stuck). I put together a little video to document our time in San Diego. I know if we lived closer to the water we would both enjoy spending a lot of time there. I grew up on Long Island, so I miss being so close to the ocean.

Who are Oliver's best pet-pals?

Oliver has many 2 and 4-legged friends in our community -- many more than I do! We have been meeting with a group every other month or so (weather permitting) for the past three years. There are a few couples that take turns hosting a group of us in their back yards. The group has grown over the years, and is made up primarily of Havanese, Bichons and Maltese. Because these breeds are in the same family, it's so much fun to see them all interact together and all the similarities they share.

What is Oliver's best quality?

Hard to choose just one! I'd have to say his ability to connect with people and speak to their heart. People are literally drawn to him everywhere we go. I can't even begin to count all of the people that Oliver has drawn into my life, and all of the lives he has touched over the past four years. He definitely changes peoples' perception of shelter pets in such a real way, and has even been credited (on more than a few occasions) for inspiring someone to adopt, who may not have otherwise.

If Oliver could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

I would ask him if there is anything else I can do to make him feel like the most loved dog in the world.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Oliver could speak, who should voice him?

I've always imagined him with a British accent, just like Oliver Twist.

If Oliver could talk, what advice would he give to people?

Of course, he would ask them all to make adoption their first option. He would also encourage people to get involved in their animal rescue community. Be a voice for the voiceless. Spay/Neuter. (OK, maybe he wouldn't say that, but I highly encourage it!) Adopt, Foster, Transport, Sponsor, Donate, Volunteer, Educate, Network. We can all do something to help save a life!

Visit the Pima Paws For Life website and Facebook page, and Laurie Gaetano's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

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