One of the biggest challenges to calling attention to the plight of neglected dogs is making the subject matter palatable — something that won’t backfire by turning people off completely.
That’s why I did backflips when I came across Hooray for the Underdog! a series of cards featuring dogs that were once unwanted, abandoned or thrown away — dogs that were now gussied up and posing whimsically for the camera.
The cards are the work of Janet Healey and Joe Grisham, a Dallas, Texas couple who wanted to call attention to animals that weren’t as fortunate as their own. I discovered their handiwork at a shop in New York, Kate’s Paperie, a year ago. I bought several cards and later, when I needed more, I went searching for their website and stocked up. I loved the card that featured an intense-looking Westie with a huge corsage around her neck above the words “tickled pink.” The back of the card identified Sabrina as a puppy mill survivor. “Special power: Professional stress reliever. She’ll sit quietly on your lap for as long as you need her.” And the one of a schauzer mix perched on a regal chair. The front of the card says: “thank you with all my heart.” The back says: “Jillian. Stray. Rescued from a city shelter only hours before her scheduled demise. Special power: Making her humans feel like they’re the ones who were saved.”
The cards dovetailed so well with the message behind Saving Gracie that I’ve used them to wish friends happy birthday, thank booksellers and business associates and offer encouragement to people who needed a pick-me-up. None of the recipients had ever heard of the card line, which made them that much more novel, but on the other hand they’re just too well done to remain a secret for long. The cards have since been featured on Oprah, in national magazines and on morning talk shows. And now they’re easier than ever to find. In recent days I’ve spied them on display at Office Max and Barnes & Noble. You can’t get better exposure than that!
I’d snap up every one of these cards if I could: like the “Happy Howlidays” card featuring a quartet of dogs dolled up in winter gear and, on the back: “Age-old story: Unwanted by owners just for being themselves.” Or the one of a chihuahua named Blossom, looking like a tiny elf in festive red and green. The front of the card says “Have a holly jolly.” On the back a more poignant message: “Dumped on one of the busiest streets of LA.”
Check them out at www.HoorayForTheUnderdog.com