Gaylord Guenin: Letter from Woody Creek
Procrastinating is one of the rare skills I posses that comes quite naturally. I dont have to spend hours fretting about not doing something when I should; I just put whatever it is off with the baseless belief that I will tend to it at a later date.So I failed to attend the grand opening of the Cheryl and Sam Wyly Aspen/Pitkin County Animal Shelter in March 2006, figuring I drove by the place near the western edge of the ABC complex on a fairly regular basis and it would be easy to drop in and look around. So some two years and a few months later, I finally made it to the shelter, immediately wishing I had not put off my visit. Remembering that dilapidated bunker that once passed for our animal shelter, this was a sudden breath of fresh air. It is fair to assume that this may be the only five-star animal shelter in existence. If push came to shove, I suspect I could take up residence there and be quite comfortable.The place has 6,317 square feet of animal shelter and boarding kennels on the first floor; a 1,312-square-foot mezzanine on the second floor, which also includes 1,632 square feet of employee housing in two units. If your allergies are under control, the mezzanine area also includes a very comfy cat room where the cats seem quite comfortable just lounging around, which is something cats are skilled at doing.There are large, open enclosures surrounding the building where dogs can do their own lounging, or sniffing stuff they have already sniffed but are determined to sniff again to be certain they got the message right the first time. You have to wonder what it is that dogs gather as they go about sniffing the world with such determination. I understand this business of marking territory but there must be more to it, yet as humans we are denied access to those doggie e-mails, which probably is as it should be.As everyone should know, this is a no-kill facility that provides a home for domestic animals found in Pitkin County; every dog and cat taken in is neutered, vaccinated and cared for until they can be adopted into a responsible home. Aspen has long been a dog-friendly town and the shelter makes it that much friendlier. When I first came to the valley in the late 1960s there was a dog in the back of every pickup and in the front seat of every Jeep and pickups and Jeeps dominated the scene. And it seemed as if size was the determining factor in selecting your dog the bigger, the better. There is more diversity among our dogs today and more control over their activities, which is all for the good.Seth Sachson is the director of the shelter, a job he has held since 1994, and it is obvious that he was born to do precisely what he is doing. Years ago he began a program where volunteers could come to the shelter and take dogs for a walk. That program, which continues to this day, is listed as one of the American Humane Associations top innovative shelter programs in America. And from the beginning, Seth fought for the construction of a new shelter and thanks to his tenacity, to endless local volunteers and contributors, and to the generosity of Cheryl and Sam Wyly, we now have one of the finest shelters in existence.But it takes money to keep such an operation in business. The shelter is a self-sustaining operation with operating funds provided by the Aspen Boarding Kennel and the Aspen Wags to Riches pet boutique, a place where you can purchase all sorts of dog goodies, from food to collars. The holiday season is here, so its a good time to think about a gift for the shelter. You could purchase a decorative ceramic tile with your dogs image and name on the tile to be displayed in the shelter. My dog, Buckwheat, has a tile in the building along with some 350 to 400 of his canine and feline friends. Considering that his major accomplishments are sleeping, eating and chasing the neighborhood fox, his being on the shelter wall may be an excessive honor. But what the hell, he is my dog and Im proud of him. Oh yes, you also get a second tile for your home. We now go from dogs to babes, and in this case the use of the word babes is done with genuine affection.The second annual Woody Creek Tavern calendar is now available at the Tavern, of course. As with last year, it features members of the attractive wait and bartending staff as well as a few less than attractive regulars. It is something you could send to your grandmother for Christmas, assuming she isnt a teetotaler.Last year the Tavern donated proceeds from the calendar to the animal shelter and this year it is an attempt to raise money for a popular Tavern bartender, Lynn Putnoy, who earlier this fall was faced with impossible medical expenses and as with millions of her fellow citizens, she had no medical insurance. A few weeks back the Woody Creek community joined hands and conducted a fundraiser for Lynn, an event that included all three of this tiny communitys businesses: The WC3 Community Center, the Woody Creek Art Gallery and the Tavern. It was a genuine outpouring of goodwill, the kind of thing good neighbors do for their neighbors. But the bills continue to come and the fundraising, via the Tavern calendar, has become an ongoing project. A Tavern calendar would look mighty nice in your home.
This is the 369th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place that hasnt gone to the dogs because the residents care about dogs.
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