You can take the Peke-a-Poo out of New Hampshire, but you can’t take New Hampshire out of the Peke-a-Poo.
The Gabby Dog has started her holiday shopping with a stocking stuffer always appreciated in the Granite State — a new vanity license plate.
Since 2004, when the Bay State’s motor vehicle registry started offering the Animal Friendly plate, more than a million have been sold, according to MAC founder, Anne Lindsay, and that’s made a difference for homeless pets. Proceeds have gone to spay and neuter tens of thousands of animals, “preventing the birth of well over 150,000 unwanted dogs, cats and rabbits.”
And it’s also a slick looking plate.
That started me thinking about the possibilities. I decided the ultimate cool ride for a pet would be to double down on the vanity plate experience by purchasing a pet friendly plate and personalizing it.
So, a few years ago, we rode out on Christmas Eve to find license plates with animal-inspired messages.
It was a challenge because we happened to be living in Rhode Island, which doesn’t compare to the Granite State in oh, so, many ways.
New Hampshire is, of course, the New England vanity plate champ — albeit on a percentage basis. According to a 2007 survey by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators of states with the most vanity plates, the Granite State ranks second in the nation based on the percentage of drivers who “vanitize,” in license-plate speak.
But that’s on a percentage basis. On a strict vanity plate count, New Hampshire has only about 171,000 vanity plates on the road, so Massachusetts has more.
And oddly, New Hampshire doesn’t sell pet friendly plates, either. (Someone at the DMV has fallen asleep at the wheel because there’s a market up there.)
We only found one vanity plate with an animal message at the Rhode Island malls, but the parking lot action turned into such an adventure, Gabby — and her brother Asia, the tabby — decided we should make it an annual tradition.
Although that Gabby girl aims to help pets, especially at Christmas, I had to point out the license plates are not the most practical gift for people living out of state.
So, for our best friend Lofton, the Yorkie, Gabby decided to dial up Schmitty the Weather Dog’s store for a New Yorkie inspired present.
Schmitty, also a Yorkie, gives a percentage of the sales to help ANGEL ON A LEASH, a non-profit organization that trains therapy dogs to work in hospitals and nursing homes and the like. Also, not to overlook the critters with opposable thumbs, Schmitty lends a paw to homeless people, too, by giving them work processing all the shipping and handling for the store.
Asia, the immortal tabby, and Gabby also remembered the outdoor dogs — here and abroad — suffering in the cold. The International Fund for Animal Welfare, which is Cape Cod based, recommends a gift that can save a newborn puppy in Canada from freezing this winter.
According to IFAW’s Janice Hannah, “the frigid Canadian winter can be a death sentence for dogs that are left outdoors. And the innocent puppies are most at risk.”
Or become an “Angels for Animals doghouse” sponsor through People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and help dogs in Virginia and the Carolinas.
As an Angels sponsor, according to PETA’s Mackenzie Campbell, you’ll be giving an outdoor dog a “sturdy, straw-filled doghouse, helping him or her survive the freezing rain and snow of winter” and also “a toy, treats, and the much-needed affection that so many ‘outdoor dogs’ are desperate for.”
Almost all the non-profit organizations offer gifts for the holidays and chances to “adopt” wolves, big cats and other wildlife. Gabby liked World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt a Sloth gift package figuring most people don’t already have a sloth. WWF calls these homecomings “symbolic adoptions,” and they come with a kit.
Note to Self: Defenders of Wildlife offers free shipping when you adopt a wolf.
At the top of the list of good causes, Gabby wrote down The Potter League from where we adopted her brother, Charlie, the black cat. The shelter uses the money to pay for medical care and food for the many pets in their charge. Charlie was adopted Christmas Eve, and his homecoming will always be among our happiest memories.
Margo Ann Sullivan is a pet columnist who has written for ZooToo, and numerous publications in New York and in New England. She’s had pets all her life, starting with a rescue collie named Lollypop. The Gabby Dog column chases the news that helps pets and people. It also chronicles the adventures of Gabby, the peke-a-poo, and Asia, the tabby cat, and their many pals, hitting the high spots between Providence, RI, and Manchester, NH.
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