Day of Service: Staffing the doggie dash

The event raised more than $700,000 for the Oregon Humane Society.

Craig Mitchell Dyer

Craig Mitchell Dyer

Genevieve Fu ’05MArch, a loyal humane society volunteer, arranged the Day of Service participation in the Doggie Dash. View full image

There were poodles in tutus, corgis in tiaras, dachshunds in tartan,  and a few Handsome Dan doppelgängers. But mutts appeared to hold a majority among the estimated 3,000 canines at the Portland Doggie Dash, an annual run/walk fund-raiser for the Oregon Humane Society. Into this four-legged crowd, the Yale Club of Oregon and SW Washington unleashed a pack of 18 pooch-loving volunteers to help out.

Some of the alumni registered participants for the race and cheered on the joggers (and trotters) as they chugged along the Willamette River waterfront. Others helped keep order. Fred Parnon ’78JD worked as an usher, directing human and furry traffic through the cheerful chaos. “Basically,” he said, “my job involves petting people’s pets, telling them how beautiful the dogs are, then sending them where they need to go.”

Parnon and his wife, Ellissa, are empty-nesters who recently moved to Portland with their 11-year-old chow chow rescue, Zen. For them, the event offered a chance to get out and meet some local Yalies. “We’ve been involved with different charities over the years, but we’re dog lovers,” Parnon explained, so the Doggie Dash was “a very gratifying experience.”

For Xiaoyan Huang ’91, president of the club, the event was an opportunity to give back to the nonprofit animal shelter that had connected her family with their beloved dog, Mika. “She is so loving and so smart. She really has changed our lives so much,” Huang said of the two-year-old shepherd mix. Huang and her husband, Jingke Li ’91PhD, adopted Mika from the Oregon Humane Society when she was a puppy (though only after years of appeals from their children).

The 31st annual event set a record by raising more than $700,000 to support the humane society’s work fighting animal cruelty, healing injured pets, and finding homes for pets. OHS finds homes for more than 11,000 animals every year—the most of any single-facility shelter on the West Coast.

The Yalies’ participation came thanks to Genevieve Fu ’05MArch, who organized the Day of Service outing. Over the past four years she has logged more than 3,500 hours volunteering for the humane society—fostering dogs and cats in her home, showing shelter animals to prospective adopters, and welcoming homeless pets to the shelter. So, when she realized that this year’s Doggie Dash would coincide with the Yale Day of Service for a second year in a row, she saw “a great opportunity to combine two of my loves: Yale’s focus on community service and the Oregon Humane Society.”

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