BY PJ KENNEDY AUGUST 29, 2023
Lucky Dog Refuge and Mill River Park will host their second annual “Luckypawlooza” fundraising festival, presented by Magna Construction on Oct. 14 in Stamford.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Lucky Dog Refuge and improvements to Mill River Park’s dog park.
Lucky Dog Refuge CT (36 Pulaski Street) is a Stamford-based rescue that has saved and adopted out over 800 dogs in the past 3 years. Most of these dogs were medical, neglect, and euthanasia cases; dogs who were once failed by humanity but are now living the dream in their forever homes.
“Luckypawlooza” runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Mill River Park (1050 Washington Boulevard) and will include a fun-filled festival for people of all ages. There will be adoptable animals, live music, food trucks, beer garden, comedians, a kids zone, charities, local businesses, artisans, a lure course and competitions for dogs, and more.
Lucky Dog is also hosting a raffle to raise funds for more medical cases. For every $100 ticket, donors have a chance to win up to $20k (second prize $10k and third prize $5k) Supporters could win the prize and save dogs all at the same time. The drawing will be live at 4pm at Luckypawlooza on October 14. (Winners do not necessarily need to attend to be eligible)
For more information, tickets, and volunteer opportunities visit, www.luckydogrefuge.com.
DARIEN — The Darien Pride Committee sponsored its second LGBTQ+ Pride Month celebration in Tilley Pond Park on Sunday.
Darien residents spent the afternoon enjoying food trucks, arts and crafts, puppy adoption and a drag performance by Darien High School graduate Boxa Crayonz.
First Selectman Monica McNally delivered a proclamation officially declaring June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Darien.
By Rosemary Black
Tappen, Moore play with dogs up for adoption in latest episode of YouTube show
by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer
The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Monday and what better way to celebrate than with some Stanley pups?
More than a dozen puppies who are up for adoption were on hand at the NHL offices in New York on Wednesday and some even got screen time on "NHL Mash-Up," one of the League's newest shows.
"Very early on when we first started the show, we were told we are going to have an episode with puppies," said Kathryn Tappen, who hosts "NHL Mash-Up" with former NHL player Dominic Moore. "We've been teasing it all season. It will certainly bring light to the shelters in the area and really throughout the country. I mean, these dogs today were from Mississippi, they're at Lucky Dog Refuge in Connecticut. They're local pups and they're available for adoption. And I think that's huge, especially this time of year in spring and summer when people want to get outside, what better way than with a new puppy?"
"NHL Mash-Up," is a bi-weekly magazine show created by NHL Original Productions which airs on the League's YouTube Channel. Hosted by Tappen and Moore, the series showcases the week's best content across the League, including player features, mic'd up moments, uplifting stories and more.
"Dogs and adorable animals are very popular on social media," Moore said. "And I think it's a good mix. Our show is all about social content and personality and dogs also have a way of bringing out the personality of the players and there's been other stuff done throughout the season as team's have been doing with dogs and other animals and it's really fun so we just thought we'd enjoy playing it up today with our dogs joining us in the studio."
So how did the idea come about? Kirstin Mende, who founded Lucky Dog Refuge with her mother in 2020, had some NHL connections and put two of her passions together.
"I worked in communications at the National Hockey League from 2010 to late 2013," Mende said. "I've stayed in touch with the National Hockey League family. A lot of my friends still work here. When I was working at the NHL, you know back in between 2010 and 2013, I kept saying we should have a dog do puck drop. How great would it be if we had a dog do the puck drop. And 10 years later, here we are with our dogs and the NHL is just doing such wonderful things embracing dogs and the need for rescue and finding them forever homes. And I'm just so happy that my two worlds have collided."
Since 2020, over 700 dogs have been adopted from Lucky Dog Refuge in Connecticut, which focuses on finding homes for stray and sick or injured dogs.
"One of our personal dogs was a medical case that everybody said just euthanize the dog because his injury was so severe and we gave him a chance and he is now perfectly healthy four or five years later, you would never know there was anything wrong," Mende said. "And so that really taught us that every single dog deserves that chance."
Mende even used her hockey passion to name some of the puppies, including Twig, Biscuit, Mitts and Puck, among others. So far, no dogs have been named Aleksander Barkov, Barclay Goodrow, Jay Beagle or Lindy Ruff.
"It's definitely a team effort," Mende said. "I got to use some of my favorite hockey lingo and give them to the different dogs based on their personalities. Otherwise, we collectively work together as a team (to name them) and we've adopted out 740 dogs since June of 2020 and we try not to duplicate names, so we're starting to get very creative with names because we've run through all your normal names. So now we're getting creative with "Chirp" and "Twig" and "Apple", and you know all those favorite names that we have the back of our mind, they eventually become a dog."
Rescue City in New York City also had puppies on hand for the show.
"They definitely trumped the Cup which is hard to do," Tappen said of filming the episode with the dogs. "I liked Hattie. I grew up with a black lab and she was black, and I have a black pet now. And she was sweet at the end and playing with us."
Three of the puppies were even adopted by NHL staff members who couldn't help but fall in love with the adorable animals.
"There was a lot of chaos," Moore said. "Not from the dogs, but from the NHL. They were so excited to meet the dogs. When I showed up here this morning, there were like 35 people excited for the dogs. It was very fun."
The fifth episode of "NHL Mash-Up" is now available on YouTube.
"It got started with a phone call to both of us that the League was thinking of doing this and wanted to really bring light to all the social media content that each team does such a great job producing and put it all in one place so that everyone could see it and enjoy it," Tappen said. "Because there's so much out there and you end up missing some of it so the idea was just to have fun, come in relax, wear your jeans, wear sneakers, have fun out there with it. And it's really been fun."
Looking for a steadfast companion who provides unconditional love and loyalty, isn’t judgmental,
and knows how to snuggle? Perhaps you could use a friend to exercise with and accompany you on long walks. Who can you turn to for this perfect friendship? Many people would tell you to adopt a pet.
Those of us who may be feeling isolated or alone can experience wonderful companionship from a pet, says Lisa Bonanno-Spence, director of development at the SPCA in Briarcliff Manor. “A pet gives you a reason to be a little more active,” she says, and can help get you out and about, and socializing.
Westchester County is a great place to live when it comes to owning a pet. “There are so many resources in Westchester for pet owners,” Bonanno-Spence notes. “There are canine boarding facilities, pet sitters, and even vets will occasionally board your pet when you travel.”
Pets offer abounding love and they don’t hold grudges! “They say you live longer when you have a pet,” offers Paula Krenkel of PetRescue in Harrison, where cats and dogs are available for adoption.
Kirstin Mende and her mother Maria Mende (pictured here with her puppy) are the co-founders of Lucky Dog Refuge in Stamford, Connecticut. She believes there aren’t any negatives when it comes to adopting a rescue. “For a senior, an animal can be the center of your world and the reason you get up every day,” she says. “Some rescue organizations will not adopt out to anyone over 60 or 65. We know that age is just a number and we know how comforting a rescue can be.”
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NORWALK — Fairfield County's Community Foundation celebrated its final Giving Day, as donors came together to raise more than $1.7 million virtually in a 24-hour span for hundreds of local nonprofits.
The online fundraising drive, held Feb. 23, included nearly 14,600 individual donations, which went to 361 participating nonprofit organizations in Fairfield County. The event was kicked off by a Thursday morning pep rally at Norwalk Art Space.
This year's total rounds out a decade of making donations through Giving Day, raising a total of $15.46 million for Fairfield County charities since its inception in 2014.
WestConn Athletics & Recreation in Danbury was awarded $6,000 for placing second in the Most Unique Donors category. Lucky Dog Refuge of Stamford was awarded $4,000 for coming in second in the Most Dollars Raised category. Additional prizes were also awarded to the nonprofits in a variety of categories — many based on the most donations in a time period or within a charitable division or size.
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Stamford, Connecticut is a bustling city filled with events and activities for people of all ages and interests. From food festivals to outdoor concerts, there’s always something going on in this vibrant city. Each year, Stamford hosts a number of annual events for locals to come together and celebrate.
Whether you’ve been living in Stamford all your life, thinking about test driving a new city and renting an apartment, or possibly even relocating and buying a home in Stamford, the annual events in Stamford are not to be missed. They provide a glimpse into the rich culture and history of the city, while also offering a chance to experience some of the best food, music, and entertainment the area has to offer. We asked Stamford residents and local businesses to share their favorite annual event and here’s why they love it.
1) Don’t miss the bag sale at The Friends Book Shop
The Friends Book Shop offers a really fun bag sale event twice a year. For $10/bag customers can fill it to the brim with books of their choice. This event occurs in June and October. The Friends Book Shop is located inside the main Ferguson Library downtown as well as in the Harry Bennett branch on Vine Road. They’re always a destination for tourists and locals who love to browse and find something unique to read.
2) Adopt a animal in need at Luckypawlooza
A local favorite is the annual fundraiser called Luckypawlooza, organized by Lucky Dog Refuge and Mill River Park. Proceeds benefit Lucky Dog Refuge and the park. Well-behaved dogs are welcome at the event which features live music, a beer garden, adoptable animals, food trucks, friendly competitions, lure course, silent auction, and more.
October 2022 was the inaugural event which brought in 1500 attendees, 41 sponsors/commercial vendors, 15 non-profits, and 6 contributors to the beer garden. Stamford locals and visitors alike are already looking forward to this year’s event, which is currently scheduled for Saturday, October 14, 2023.
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Whether you're a football fan or not, we can all agree on one thing: puppies are adorable. And there's no place to see more of them than the most paws-itive game on the gridiron: the Puppy Bowl. Now in its 19th year, Team Ruff faces Team Fluff in what's not just a cute contest but a promotion for pet adoption. The tail-wagging good time features rescues from across the country, including western Connecticut. Five dogs from three local rescues are on the roster, one of which is a rookie--Lucky Dog Refuge in Stamford.
"The Puppy Bowl has been so exciting for us. We are just so thrilled. We didn't even imagine as a new rescue that this was something that would be possible for us," said Lucky Dog Refuge CEO and co-founder Kirstin Mende.
Mende started the rescue in 2020 with a focus on medical cases and dogs that are hard to place. They recently passed 700 adoptions.
Among them, Team Fluff star Twinkle--a Huskie, cattle dog, Alaskan malamute, German Shepherd mix. Originally from Mississippi, she's since been adopted by Mende's mom, who co-founded the rescue. Twinkle now lives in Darien with a pack of siblings, which the competition surely helped prepare her for.
"Twinkle was very excited. It was a huge, huge adventure for her," Mende recalled. "She had a tendency to fall asleep during film time because it was a nice warm room, but she would wake up to get on the field and get playing and even in the holding room outside, she just loved meeting all the other dogs."
Also suiting up for Team Fluff is Stardust, a poodle-Australian shepherd mix with one eye from DAWS in Bethel. Stardust is one of eleven special-needs puppy players in the game this year.
"She was very outgoing while she was at the Puppy Bowl," explained DAWS Shelter Director Katie Mothersele.
DAWS also fields a player for Team Ruff. Dakota is a German shepherd-pit bull mix born in West Virginia who now calls Bethel home.
"She was very shy when she went to the Puppy Bowl, but she had a wonderful time and started to come out of her shell," Mothersele told News 12. "It's a fun experience for us, and we think that it's great to advocate for the animals that are in the shelter environment and remind people, you know, adopt, don't shop."
This was DAWS' fifth year in the canine competition, but it's not the only local veteran in the lineup.
ROAR in Ridgefield is also back with two players. Pauly is a playful black-and-tan hound mix from Georgia on Team Ruff. His Team Fluff competitor is Schnitzel, a husky-boxer mix. He's smart, sweet, happy, and high energy, so it's no surprise he had a ball on the field. He's also still at ROAR, the only local Puppy Bowl dog without a forever home.
Who will win the coveted "Vince Lombarky" trophy? Puppy Bowl XIX airs on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and TBS from 2-5 p.m. with a one-hour pre-game show beforehand. You can also stream it on HBO Max or Discovery+.
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Kirsten Mende, CEO and co-founder of Stamford’s Lucky Dog Refuge, is no stranger to adopting animals. Having rescued a number of dogs herself, Kristen and her mother, Maria Mende, who is the co-founder and president of the organization, have a soft spot for animals. Maria is personally a fan of Husky mixes, and when the opportunity came to adopt Twinkle, a Husky-Australian Cattle Dog-German Shepherd-Alaskan Malamute mix, the family couldn’t pass it up.
Twinkle is a rescue dog that came from a run-down shelter in Mississippi. Twinkle’s older sister was rescued first and required immediate medical attention. Then, fosters went back to rescue the mother, who surprised them by giving birth to a litter of puppies.
According to Mende, all of the puppies contracted Parvo, a contagious virus that claimed the lives of two of them. Twinkle and her sister, Lunette, survived and were taken up to Connecticut once they healed.
“She integrated seamlessly into our family,” Mende said.
Twinkle regained full health and was even chosen to compete this year in Animals Planet’s Puppy Bowl, which will air on Sunday, Feb. 12 before the Super Bowl. The event, which spotlights local shelters and rescuers, will feature 122 puppies this year with nine coming from Connecticut. Twinkle is the only puppy to come from Lucky Dog Refuge.
“We were just beyond thrilled and excited to have a chance to be in the Puppy Bowl, and the fact that we adopted her and that she’s our puppy in the Puppy Bowl makes it even that much more exciting,” Mende said.
Since her adoption, Mende said that Twinkle, who is now named Emma, has been confident yet playful with her fellow dogs at home, even urging the older ones to play with her.
Emma’s sister, Lunette, was also adopted locally in Stamford and her mother and older sister, were adopted by a family in Brookfield. Mende said that she is trying to coordinate some "family reunions" in the future.
To celebrate Emma’s appearance on the Puppy Bowl as a member of Team Fluff, the Mende family is hosting a party at Sign of the Whale in Stamford to watch the Puppy Bowl. Emma will make an appearance at the party.
“To have her be able to come to the watch party with us, as part of our family and as part of the rescue, [made it become] a very special story for us,” Mende said.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct location of Lucky Dog Refuge.
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Also featured in The Darien Times print edition