Spaghetti fundraiser honors feisty little dog and her biggest fan

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by Cynthia Price

On March 3, Pound Buddies will benefit from Pasta 4 Paws, a five-year-old fundraiser with a sweet beginning and a bittersweet ending.

When Lana Fischer started volunteering for a local animal shelter five years ago, she met the little chihuahua mix named Lily and decided that, despite a heart murmur that was predicted to end Lily’s life early, she wanted to foster the dog until someone came forward to adopt her.

“I asked my husband Bob if it was OK and he said yes, so I brought her home. And he fell in love with her,” Fischer says.

They adopted Lily permanently, and sought medical attention for her. Much to their surprise and delight, they found a doctor at Purdue University who was able to fix her heart, four years ago this March.

“After we adopted her, my husband said to me, I want to do something to help the shelters,” Lana Fischer explains, and thus was born Pasta 4 Paws.

Lily is still alive, but sadly Robert Fischer passed away about a year ago. The event was renamed “Robert H. Fischer’s Pasta 4 Paws” in his honor.

The Fischers’ friends and family take care of all the cooking and bartending and cleanup at the event, and many items, including those for the silent auction (see photo at right) are donated. In the past the couple paid for all the costs associated with the fund-raiser so that all of the money raised could go to help animals – a tradition Lana Fischer intends to continue.

This is the first year Pound Buddies will be the benefactor, and Director Lana Carson says she is delighted at that.

As previously reported, Pound Buddies took over the services formerly provided by the county animal shelter a few years back, a challenging undertaking. Pound Buddies is what is called an “open admission” shelter, which means that they must find a place for all animals that come through the door.

They have the highest standards of care for the dogs they take in (and occasionally cats, who do not stay long). But Carson wants the general public to understand that Pound Buddies exists to help people along with animals.

“We’re helping people through the animals,” Carson says.

Three new programs that illustrate her point are starting in the near future.

One of them, just under way Tuesday night, is a junior volunteer program. “We were brainstorming about how many children we’ve seen over the past couple of years who do things like, in lieu of birthday gifts do a supply drive, or donate their allowances to us. Some seem to have a natural tendency to work for the animals.

“If that’s what gets them involved in volunteer service, then we want to help with that.”

In March, Pound Buddies will kick off a reading program where children can come in and read to the animals. A local author will share her animal-centered and very simple children’s books for the project.

“And then we have this really great walking program we’ll start soon,” Carson says. “Right now we’re evaluating our dogs to see which would be best, and once we know that it’s not going to be icy and snowy on the roads, we’re going to announce this program. It’s intended to promote a healthy lifestyle, and encourage people to get out and walk the dogs with the goal of accomplishing a 5K.

“We have the distances already marked and we’ve purchased harnesses and neon facegear.  As soon as the dogs are evaluated and the weather changes, we’re set to go.”

The fifth annual Robert H. Fischer’s Pasta 4 Paws will take place at the Mona Lake Boating Club, as in the past (372 Randall Rd., Norton Shores), starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 3. The event features raffles in addition to the silent auction, the delicious dinner from 5:00-7:00, a cash bar, and socializing.

Following that, guests are invited to stay for great music from the Detroit blues band The Root Doctor, which is charging half its usual fee in honor of the event. (Hotel rooms for the band were donated by Spring Lake Holiday Inn.)

For more information, call Linda Norden at 231-329-2085.
The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. Lana Fischer says last year they raised $12,000, and each year the amount has gone up approximately $2,000. But Fischer is hoping to make $15,000 this year, and she expects a big crowd based on the popularity of Pound Buddies.