Night with Bud — Christmas Eve sleepover raises $15K for shelter

READY FOR DOGGY DREAMS – Bud, a pit bull mix, spends the night with volunteer Deb Cloutier during the 4th annual Chrismas Eve Shelter Sleepover. The fundraiser netted $15,000 for the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG – Bud was not budging.

He was not budging from the warm blanket on the couch. Tucked under one of his paws, only the pink triangle pattern on his nose was showing as he dozed off into dreamland.

Christmas Eve 2017 was Bud’s turn to spend the night in the canine living room at the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter.

This is the fourth year that longtime volunteer Deb Cloutier has been doing the Christmas Eve Shelter Sleepover as a way of raising money.

In fact, in Christmases past, the fundraiser paid to renovate a room in the basement as a doggie hangout spot.

Four years ago, before the playroom was built, Cloutier said she cuddled up with one of the dogs on a cot in the kennel. In the middle of the night, her canine companion kept hogging the blankets, she said. By the time morning came, the dog was toasty warm and Cloutier was a little bit chilly, she said.

This month, Cloutier raised $15,000 toward her goal of $20,000. Donations were made through the GoFundMe page, Christmas Eve Shelter Sleepover ’17.

STOCKINGS WERE HUNG WITH CARE from the dog kennels at Harvest Hills Animal Shelter on Christmas Eve. (De Busk Photo)
Make shelter dog adoption easy transition
By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer
FRYEBURG — While some might think the idea of utopia for a dog is running free and without rules, quite the opposite is true.
Dogs do seek structure, routine and rules, according to Liam Crowe, CEO and Master Dog Behavioral Therapist at Bark Busters USA.
“While shelter dogs come from various backgrounds and experiences, they all share one important fact: They are dogs, and the dog you choose needs to be understood and treated as such,” Crowe said.
“Just like us, dogs need order and leadership. They seek structure, structure which you must provide. Your dog needs to know that you have a set of house rules,” he said.
“This makes the transition from the shelter to your home easier, faster and more rewarding,” Crowe said.
Crowe was the guest author of an article called, “Top Tips for Safely Bringing Home a Rescue or Shelter Dog.”
Preparation is key to helping the dog make a successful transition into a new household. Another important factor is maintaining consistent rules. Straying from the initial rules will cause the dog to be confused or make up its own rules, Crowe said.
Once a family decides to adopt, it is important to purchase the dog’s basic needs before bringing the new pet home. Those include food, water bowls, a collar, a six-foot leash, ID tags and bedding.
Additionally, the family members should create the rules and divvy up chores beforehand. The family or individual adopting a dog should set aside time when someone can be home for the first few days.
Crowe suggests walking the dog prior to introducing it to its new space.
“Just before you bring your dog into the home, take him for a walk to tire him out a little. Walks are not only good exercise, but they also serve as a training tool and an opportunity to establish the lines of communication that better educate him,” Crowe said.
Here is a list of tips for helping the canine adjust.
• Limit your dog to one room or area until he becomes familiar and comfortable.
• Keep your dog on a leash while inside your home. However, never leave the leash on an unsupervised dog.
• Do not leave the dog alone with existing pets until behavior has been monitored.
• For the first few days, limit guest visits.
• Expect housetraining accidents.
• Create a space where the dog can den such as a roomy crate or a toddler gate placed in mudroom or laundry room.
• Line up veterinarian appointments.
• Sign up for an obedience class or dog-training course. Most animal shelters provide vouchers for this.
For more information and tips, go to the website,

The money will be used to rehabilitate some of the animals thus making them more adoptable.

The money goes into a fund “so that dogs and cats with health or behavioral problems can become more adoptable, whether it be because they receive a major surgery that an adopter won’t have to pay for themselves or for things like training vouchers for dogs; fencing installed for dogs who require a fenced in yard to keep them safe; vouchers for specialized veterinary care such as acupuncture or drugs for anxiety; carts for amputees; or anything else that will address a problem of a dog or cat that will make them more adoptable,” Cloutier posted on the GoFundMe page.

Major surgeries that are performed by a veterinarian include anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgeries, amputations, eye surgeries and major dental work, her post said.

“Not to mention, this fund will always work to make the dogs and cats more comfortable and happy while they wait for their forever homes,” she wrote.

Prior to the sleepover, Cloutier highlighted another future expense for the shelter’s inhabitants.

“Some of the money will put a new sound system in the kennels. Studies show that certain kinds of music calm shelter dogs.

Believe it or not, it is not classical. It didn’t relieve stress. It was soft rock,” she said during an interview.

“Someone is coming over on Wednesday to put in the stereo system,” she said. “It is going to be positive, not to mention it is good for the volunteers. When the volunteers are there cleaning the kennels, and the staff, they can listen to music. I think there will be a lot of benefits to it.”

Cloutier is very familiar with the dogs that spend their time in the shelter’s kennels.

After all, she began volunteering for HHAS about 16 years ago.

About 12 years ago, she initiated the nighttime dog walking service. It concerned her that the dogs did not get exercise or a chance to go outdoors to relieve themselves from the time the shelter closed in the afternoon until the next morning. So, she started tending to their needs at night.

At some point, a community member provided a generous donation to pay someone to do what Cloutier does for free on some of the nights.

Cloutier usually arrives at the shelter around 7 p.m. Each night, it takes her between two and three hours to give individual attention to the dogs that typically number between 12 and 16.

“The dogs – I feed them. I let them out to do their business and they have some play time,” she said.

“Some of them dilly-dally, sniff every inch of the yard. Once their paws get cold, if they haven’t done their business, their focus turns to going inside,” she said.

“I listen to them. It is their paws and not mine,” she said.

On Christmas Eve, Cloutier’s goal was to “make it as festive as a night as possible, give them special one-on-one time.”

Bud, the canine that Cloutier chose to stay the night with her, has been in the habit of chomping ice and snow. This preoccupation meant that Bud got too cold before “doing his business,” which meant a second trip outdoors once his paws warmed up.

On Christmas Eve, Cloutier finally settled in with Bud. While she ran her hand across his fur, Cloutier shared stories of the dogs that have enriched her life.

One December years ago, a female dog named Star arrived with a litter of puppies. Cloutier had no intention of bringing home a pup, but as she walked Star she saw a falling star in the direction of the constellation Orion. That night, she felt compelled to adopt one of the pups and named it Siri.

She fostered another dog with an auto immune system disease. The veterinarians said it had six months to live. The dog lived with Cloutier for seven years.

Recently, another dog came into her home. A dog named Iris, which Cloutiers commented is Siri spelled backwards.

On Christmas Eve, three dogs and two cats await Cloutier’s return home while she stays the night at the shelter with those animals that have yet to be adopted.

Bud is able to “experience the holiday like all dogs that are loved will be experiencing it” on the night before Christmas, she said.

Her wish is that someone will fall in love with this sweet dog and find room in their home for him.


Please follow and like us: