A Thanksgiving Message

Dear Friends,

This is a Thanksgiving post. If you read the whole thing, it’s going to involve a sad story, but I truly do feel thankful while I post today… for good friends, good family, good fortune, and a good community. If you’re not interested in reading the story, but would like to help some dogs, I’d like to ask you to skip to the end, visit the GoFundMe page below (https://www.gofundme.com/f/beckett-foundation-startup-fund), make a donation if you can afford to, and – no matter what you can or can’t give – please take the time to share this liberally throughout your networks. I’m making this post public, so you can share the whole thing or just the GoFundMe page… your choice.

Okay, if you’ve gotten to paragraph two, at least you’re willing to humor me, so I’ll tell you a story. Let me tell you a little about what happened this spring, around the same time COVID was gaining traction in the US. In early March, Beckett started vomiting a lot and we took him to the emergency vet. Within a few days, he was in for surgery to have his gall bladder removed. He started doing a lot better, but they noticed that his cultures came back with e-coli. So then he went on this ridiculous antibiotic for like 5 weeks that I had to handle with dish gloves and administer outside. That made him anemic. Then we put him on steroids to try to combat that, and that gave him blood clotting. On May 18, after struggling to help him for 10 weeks, we finally had to let him have some peace and sent him on to join the Sleepless Watch.

If you don’t know about the Sleepless watch, then you’ve missed out on a beautiful but bittersweet response to a Reddit writing prompt from several years ago. Buddy the dog moves on to the next life only to find that he has to make a choice between waiting for his person to arrive and joining the Sleepless Watch to defend us all from evil spirits:

When we came home in the afternoon after saying goodbye to Becks, my wife plopped down on the bed and looked up at me in tears and asked me “what do we do now?” This dog had been our life for 7 years together: easily the most important part of it. I didn’t hesitate at all. I told her that when he comes around on leave to show us off to his buddies from the Sleepless Watch, I want him to be proud of what they see.

To be honest, I had no idea how to do that. I work a very manageable job that pays well and has remained stable during COVID. I have a comfortable life in Carrboro, zero business or marketing savvy, and I didn’t have much of a sense for what I should or could do to make the world a better place. But then I started hanging out with Doug Largent. If you live around here, you may recognize Doug – or at least his name – from playing in a jazz trio around town. Well, Doug has become a really good friend over the past few months, partially out of convenience (he lives a 5 minute walk away), but largely as a result of the immense care and support he’s given us.

So one day a couple of months ago, Doug and I were running, and I was explaining that I felt like I had no direction or purpose, despite the very manageable nature of it, and so he started grilling me about what I WOULD do if I could do ANYTHING, since I already have a job and it’s not about the money. I told him about a conversation I had with a man named Horst at Weaver Street Market early last year. He had just gotten finished loving on a dog passing by, and I asked him if he had one. He said he would love to have a dog, but he was quit old, and he didn’t think it would be responsible of him. Who would walk it? What if it outlived him? This really stuck with me. I thought, “how ridiculous that a shelter dog can’t find a home, and an old man with money and time can’t have a dog he’d like to have, just because he’s worried about a few small logistic puzzle pieces?” So Doug and I decided to set out to recruit a board, start a nonprofit, and work towards building an application that might help local communities weave together safety nets of dog-loving neighbors willing to help pick up the slack for local seniors interested in adopting dogs with a little more peace of mind. There are about 12 million seniors living alone in the US, and 600k+ dogs get put down every year – often for nothing other than lack of a home – so why can’t we bring some of them together?

So I started a nonprofit, named it after my dog, and recruited a board of dog-lovers to help me move it along… and they’ve done a terrific job. But now we’re at a point where we need your help to move further. None of the people involved in this are being paid. They’re all dog-owners and dog-lovers who are doing it out of the kindness of their heart. Even the startup time and costs so far have been donated by one or more members of the board or someone that they’ve solicited for help, so the organization has had to spend next to no money so far. The first thing that we intend to finally spend some money on is to hire a couple of information science interns to do some UX research and design for an app to facilitate this, and to put a little serious money towards advertising and promotion of the effort, starting in the local area but hopefully expanding quickly if things go well.

If you’ve gotten this far, this story has meant anything to you, you’d like to help us out, and/or you’re just an avid dog-lover like us, please consider giving a little to help push this along. And no matter how much or how little you can spare, please take the time to share this in your networks.

Thank you!