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Make-A-Wish Request to Help Shelter Pups
11 year old Anna Getner forgoes vacations and concerts to create a play space for dogs.
Most Make-A-Wish foundation wish requests involve traveling to places like Disney World or Paris, or meeting celebrities. But Anna Getner, a sixth grader at Middlebrook School in Wilton, Conn. had a different dream in mind. If anyone deserved a fancy vacation, it was her. The 11-year old recently completed an 821-day long treatment regimen for leukemia.

But when Make-A-Wish Connecticut asked Anna what her one true wish would be, she told them that she wanted to make a puppy playroom at the local animal shelter. Anna had a very specific vision for an indoor/outdoor park for the rescue dogs to feel comfortable and to serve as a nice place to meet potential adopters.

Make-A-Wish worked with local business, volunteers, and other supporters, who were eager to help make the space a reality.

The room, named Anna's Dog Park, was unveiled in February with a party that included Anna, her friends and family, her classmates and teachers, and many other supporters. Norwalk mayor, Harry Rilling, was there to present Anna with a proclamation in her honor to celebrate her generosity and kind spirit.

While the space at PAWS is completely indoors, photo wallpaper and sky blue ceiling tiles make the room look like it's in the middle of a park. There's even a photo of Anna and her rescue pup, Franklin, built into the landscape.

Franklin, who Anna considers like a brother, was a huge factor in her wish choice. Anna wanted to help all animals at PAWS find their forever homes and make families happy the same way that Franklin has brought her joy.

Pam Keogh, the president of Make-A-Wish Connecticut says that Anna's wish was a first. The chapter has fulfilled 2,500 wishes in the last 30 years, but Pam doesn't know of any request quite like Anna's.

Local pet food company, Blue Buffalo, was so inspired by Anna's selfless decision, that they not only helped to fund the project, but they announced that they will donate food to PAWS for life.

Seeing the play room for the first time, Anna looked around and exclaimed, "Oh my god, it's amazing!." Mission accomplished. Happy rescue pups and finally some joy for a girl who has spent way too much time in a hospital. 

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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