As the 2nd Annual Art Auction draws closer and the clock ticks down to auction time, we are struck with a significant amount of gratitude toward our community. Our local artists and artists in our general area of the state have been so incredibly generous that there are days we step back and look at the pieces we get to offer to the public this year and we are so humbled there are no words.
There are pieces that were donated this year that have tugged at our heartstrings, brought tears and, honestly, a little anxiety that our humble little fundraiser won’t be able to do the pieces justice. We have seen our community reach out to volunteer, to offer art pieces, to offer support, to find out more about the Electric City Pittie Committee and to become eager to join us in our mission.
For those of you who might be new to the ECPC or aren’t quite sure what our motives were for starting this little group of change makers, it all started with one dog. (as it often does)
Photo by: Crystal Gillen
This hunk of pooch laying across my lap is Trace. He was adopted out of a shelter in Twin Falls, ID in 2009. When I adopted Trace, he was just a puppy who stole my heart. I didn’t see breed, I saw MY dog. He was born in the shelter, and we were lucky enough to know exactly what he was. His momma was American Pit Bull Terrier, and his daddy was an English Pointer. How he ended up being born in a shelter to begin with is part of our mission. When the family dog became pregnant by the expensive hunting dog, and the family didn’t want to deal with the puppies, mom went to the shelter. Thankfully he was fostered by an amazing home and was well socialized the minute I got him. I may have overdone it where his socialization was concerned, birds, rabbits, snakes, rats, hamsters, people, horses, cattle, sheep… he saw it all as a puppy since I took him everywhere while I was getting my degree in Veterinary Technology at the College of Southern Idaho. When I took a job back here in my hometown, obviously my “kids” came with me, including this little dude. I was aware of breed discrimination, but in Idaho, where I was at, he was just another dog. I didn’t feel the discrimination, I was able to stay disconnected from it. Then, I got here. Great Falls, MT. My hometown, where I was born and raised. I watched my neighbors cross the street to get away from him. I watched people scoop up their children and their dogs and scurry away from me and my little squishy pittie mix. I was called names at the dog park, and people would approach me to ask if my dog was going to “eat” their dogs if they let them off leash. I became so upset that I couldn’t take my dog anywhere that I had a “taking Trace out shirt”. It said “Yes, he’s a pit bull” on the front and “Yes, he’s friendly” on the back. I decided if I wore the shirt, maybe people wouldn’t ask questions that I thought were incredibly ignorant and ill-mannered. When I started talking to some of these people, I found that they only knew what they saw on TV about “Pit Bulls”. They had zero personal experience with anything that they could call a “pit bull” in person, because they had been so afraid to engage with a “Pit Bull”. I found myself talking to more and more people. I found myself carrying around the statistics from the American Temperament Testing Society, and studies regarding genetics and behavior, breed identification information. I thought, “I need to be less offended and start meeting these people where they are at and change some minds.” Trace and I suddenly had a mission in life. I wanted everyone to know the happy, wiggly, belly-rub-loving, funny dog that I knew. I couldn’t imagine someone thinking my dog was mean. Why? Because of how he looks, not how he acts? How is that fair?
I found in my conversations that folks were honestly surprised to hear that I was college educated, and with a degree in Veterinary Technology at that. Why would someone who has experience with all of these types of dogs choose a dog that is (*gasp*) a “Pit Bull”? I realized that not only does my dog have an unfair judgement placed upon him just because of how he looks, but suddenly, I did as well. I have tattoos, I have piercings, I have a pit bull. The Trifecta!! I must be uneducated, unemployable and a menace to society!
Photo credit Jessica Becker
People would be beside themselves when I would tell them that Trace was AKC Canine Good Citizen Certified, was a registered therapy dog and would visit nursing homes. The fear in their eyes was both unfortunate and exactly what I started to look for. Trace can warm even the hardest heart. (As you can see above, he really hates teaching kids how to approach a dog and touch a dog safely!)
In 2012 after a few years of defending myself and my dog every time we went somewhere, I started doing it with a logo! (Big thanks to Crystal Gillen for our ECPC Logo) My first partner in crime was Paige. Sadly, she was deployed and then PCS’d to Guam after her deployment. It was sad to see her go, and I was a bit concerned that the ECPC might lose traction. Over the years, I have met so many folks with a similar story and after a year or so, I started to meet people who wanted to get involved and do what I was doing. We started meeting monthly to start planning making an impact in our community. Our meetings were myself and board member Ashley and Rikki for the better part of a year.
A year ago, we seated a board and decided it was time to make the ECPC a legitimate organization and start laying the groundwork to eventually apply for 501 (c)3 status. (that is a 2016 goal.)
From our very humble beginnings to where we are now is sometimes overwhelming to me, personally. I can’t thank our board members enough for validating this “Crazy Dog Lady” and sharing this vision and this journey. To every person who joins us at an event, buys a tshirt, sports a hoodie, supports our fellow “Pittie people” when we reach out for help for our community and those who show up to those things that we do every year we thank you!
To those of you who have donated to the Art Auction this year, we are so grateful!
“Dream Girl” Artist Chaz Pahach
We have received some of the most heartfelt, valuable items this year. We all have grand plans for the Electric City Pittie Committee, and we have only just begun, but each and every donation, each and every piece of work that was given to support our goals and help move our committee forward is so very personal to us.
Each piece that was so graciously donated to the ECPC is an opportunity for us to expand our reach within our community. Dream bigger, work harder, speak louder, walk further and impact more people.
Thank you, to every last one of you for dreaming with us, laughing with us, walking with us, teaching with us, learning with us and making a difference with us!
From me, to the board: Ashley, Rikki, Jessica and my husband, Jeremy; thank you to all of you! For everything!