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Last week, we launched Off Leash, our first-ever open thread . We weren’t sure what to expect when we decided to create a space for real-time conversations with no rules (other than common courtesy), so we were thrilled when so many of you showed up to speak your mind. Your helpful advice, informed opinions, experiences and passion remind us why we do the work we do. So we’re making it a regular Wednesday feature, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., PST.
As an added incentive, we’ll also be selecting one participant at random each week to win a Bark goodie bag. (When you comment be sure to include your email address, so we can contact you if you’re selected. We don’t publish it.) It’s our chance to learn a little more about our Bark readers—and share their stories with you.
Our debut open thread winner was Laurelin Sitterly of Providence, R.I. When we contacted her, we learned she is the proud adopter of a one-and-a-half year old Beagle/Dachshund mix named Sadie. Laurelin has worked at the Rhode Island SPCA  for the past five years as an educator and the manager of the exotics department. In her “spare time,” she has fostered a variety of animals who needed extra help prior to adoption, including Sadie, who had been relinquished five times, starting at the age of five months.
“Sadie first came to our shelter social and easygoing, but by her final surrender was anxious and highly fearful, which is what prompted us to take her home,” Laurelin wrote to us. “We have worked around the clock to combat her severe separation anxiety and grab bag of situational phobias, and have made excellent progress in the last five months. Through training, behavioral modification, environmental management and medication, she can now be left safely alone during the day and enjoys frequent play-time with her canine neighbor/best friend (we still have plenty of work to go in other areas, but she's worth it). After all of that work, we buckled and decided to make her the first permanent dog in our household.”
Laurelin has been reading Bark for many years—longer than she has been working at the shelter and certainly longer than she has had a dog. “Many of the writers, behaviorists, tools and techniques that I have discovered in your publication have been instrumental in improving Sadie’s life with us,” she writes. “I have recommended your magazine to adopters, we receive a subscription at the shelter and, when a photo of one of our shelter dogs was selected for print in your Smilers section, we donated the subscription to his adopter.”
Laurelin is typical of the experienced, humane, animal-loving folks you’ll meet on the open thread, we hope to see you there.
Photo by Laurelin Sitterly.