Pet Tales: Fundraiser features nuns' best friends
Sister Pat Montini, left, with her golden retriever Luca and Sister Sharon Costello with Buster, the Maltese.
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Love animals? Love wine?
People who answer "yes" to those questions will probably enjoy "Tails With Taste" next Saturday.
The event is a "wine festival" with good food and a "twist" that sets it apart from other wine tastings. A Maltese named Buster and a golden retriever named Luca will be there to meet and greet and play with guests.
"Tails With Taste" is a fundraiser for the Beaver County Humane Society and the new pet therapy outreach project recently launched by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden.
The new Pets With Heart program has four "employees" -- Sister Sharon Costello and her little white dog, and Sister Pat Montini and her big yellow dog.
Both nuns are lifelong dog lovers. They're thrilled that Buster, 1, and Luca, 2, live with them on the Baden campus of the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph, which is home to about 60 Catholic nuns. The campus at 1020 State St. (15005) is also the venue for the wine festival.
There are many wonderful therapy dogs, Sister Sharon notes, but she says, "ours are a bit different because they are faith-based. We're not trying to proselytize. All creatures are a gift of God," and Buster and Luca will be used "to promote comfort, wellness and joy."
Although the therapy program just started in late June, Buster and Luca have already made many visits, including to the nuns who live in the assisted-living portion of the motherhouse in Baden.
Luca frequently goes to work with Sister Pat, who visits schools because she's the instructional technology coach for the Pittsburgh diocesan schools.
She describes Luca as "kindly, silly, friendly, beautiful and confident." The golden retriever "loves to have children read to her, and she helps reduce stress when students are taking tests."
Buster "is a happy, energetic and playful ... and loves people of all ages as well as other animals," Sister Sharon said. "Meeting Buster is like watching the sun rise on a beautiful morning or experiencing the delight of seeing a rainbow. It's an experience of joy and comfort."
Sister Sharon, an educator and former principal who administers Pets With Heart, is scheduling regular therapy dog visits at hospitals, schools, nursing homes and hospices. Also, individuals can call to schedule a relaxing walk on the motherhouse grounds with Buster or Luca.
Both dogs have Canine Good Citizen certificates. Luca is also a certified therapy dog, and Buster will be taking his test soon.
It's fitting, perhaps, that therapy dogs are helping to raise money for homeless pets.
The Beaver County Humane Society is in the final stages of raising $2 million for a new shelter on 7.5 acres on Brodhead Road in Center. Construction is complete, and the animals will soon be moved from the old shelter, which is one mile away, next to the Beaver Valley Mall.
The current shelter usually has about 75 animals -- mostly cats and dogs as well as the occasional pot-bellied pig and other pets. The new shelter is bigger and will be able to house more animals. BCHS takes in lost pets and strays picked up by animal control officers and has humane officers who investigate 350 to 400 cases of abuse, cruelty and neglect each year. About 1,000 to 2,000 are adopted out to new owners each year,
"Tails With Taste" is 5-9 p.m. next Saturday. Tickets are $75 each or $125 for a VIP ticket, which includes "exclusive wine tastings" and food. Participating wineries are Southern Wine & Spirits and Barsotti Wines. Food is provided by Cura Hospitality, and desserts are donated by Judy Miller of Ambridge Italian Villa.
Go to www.stjoseph-baden.org to register for the wine festival. To schedule a therapy dog visit or to learn more about Pets With Heart, call 724-869-6545.
Local animal shelters are filled to overflowing, so employees and volunteers are scrambling to attract adopters.
A "Free Fur-All" will be held 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Animal Rescue League, 6620 Hamilton Ave., Larimer (15206). There is no adoption fee for kittens, cats, puppies, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs. Adoptions fees are usually about $120 for dogs and $30-$60 for cats.
In the spirit of cooperation, five dogs from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society have been transferred to the ARL, in hopes they will be adopted during the Free Fur-All.
As part of the Free Fur-All, bring your pet to the shelter for a free micro chip. Bring your dog for a free bath. Register to win two tickets to a Pittsburgh Penguins game. There will also be games, prizes and educational programs.
Cats and dogs will not be getting their hair or fur cut at Hot Heads salon next Saturday. But people who get their cut at the Castle Shannon shop will be helping the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.
Shelter volunteer Megan Ward Robinson organized the fundraiser, which is part of "Patrick Lomantini's Ultimate Road Trip." The master stylist is traveling through all 50 states, donating hair-cutting fees to local shelters.
The suggested donation for a hair cut is $20.
You need to make an appointment. Call Hot Heads at 412-886-9000 and tell them you want a fundraising cut.
The salon is at 3609 Library Road (Route 88) (15234).
First Published August 4, 2012 12:00 am