West Hartford celebrated the “dog days of summer” this past Sunday at Blue Black Farmers’ Market, featuring Dog Star Rescue along with fresh produce and more.
By Bridget Bronsdon
Local vendors set up in the West Hartford Town Hall parking lot for the Sunday morning Blue Back Farmers Market to present ravishing displays of fresh fruits, vegetables, flower arrangements, squeezed juices, and much more, including a special Dog Star Rescue adoption event.
Guitarist Jim Leon serenaded shoppers while patrons perused the garden-fresh arrangements with coffees, flowers, and other nutritious foods in hand.
An Average Jill, created by Jill Roberts, was just one of the many homemade, unprocessed, and nutritious options sold. An Average Jill featured a combo of delicious granolas made by Roberts herself. “I bake granola under a Connecticut Cottage Food License so it’s made out of my home in Bristol and I sell primarily at farmers markets in the central area,” she explained.
“I have two kinds of granola. I have my sunrise mix which is a very simple blend. I use maple syrup as the base along with grilled oats and pecans and that’s good for putting in yogurt or as a breakfast cereal. And then, I sell one that’s a hybrid between granola and a trail mix so that’s good for snacking right out of the bag,” Roberts said.
Across the market was Magnus Pedals, a fresh juicery local to the Connecticut region. “We’re a cold press juice company. We sell all cold press juices that are made fresh every day right out of Durham, we also have two locations in New Haven. We’re all about really simple, delicious, combinations of fruit and vegetables that are supposed to be for health and well-being and no added sugar, no added preservatives, we try to put love into everything we make,” the representative explained.
While Magnus Pedals sells at three storefront locations, they sell their unique blends at roughly 15 farmers markets throughout the season.
“Personally, I like the human element of selling a product that you’re passionate about and the direct one-on-one rather than just on a shelf, so I love conversation, I love the market vibe,” the spokesman gushed.
In addition to the delicious goodies and nutritious expositions, the Aug. 13 Blue Back Farmers’ Market featured the Dog Days of Summer event spotlighting Dog Star Rescue, a nonprofit volunteer-based dog rescue organization.
Pet owners were more than welcome to bring their furry friends as well, and the market soon became a meeting ground for tail wagging and slobbery kisses.
Susan Casagrande, Dog Star foster coordinator, spoke to the process of fostering and adopting a rescue dog from Dog Star. Casagrande explained that a majority of the animals come from Southern shelters.
“Unfortunately, the culture down there is not the same regarding the treatment of pets. So, it is uncommon for them to spay or neuter …” she explained. “They have way more dogs down there than homes, the dogs get dumped, and the shelters are way overrun – and the fact that the dogs can easily be euthanized is not a deterrent to the behavior. The only way for these dogs to survive is for the southern shelters to connect with northern partners,” Casagrande said.
Once the dogs from Southern shelters are brought up to Dog Star’s headquarters in Bloomfield, the organization is then able to begin their fostering process. “When a dog goes into a foster home, the dog gets to relax, chill, and decompress – and it gets to learn manners and various things. Then, the foster gets to know the dog and know its personality, what it likes, what it fears, what it’s good with, its skill level, and all those different things so then the foster can communicate with the screening team. The screening team then gets applications and screens them to make sure the person is an appropriate pet owner,” Casagrande described.
“By working in conjunction with foster and screening and all of that, we get to place the dog in a home that everybody believes is a really good fit for the dog and the person – because it has to be good for both,” she continued, “So for us to get out and meet people and talk about the rescue and let them know who we are, what we are, and what our values are, I think it’s important for them to feel comfortable adopting a dog from us,” Casagrande said.
Overall, “we’re all here because we love dogs” Casagrande said as she spoke to the highest regard of the organization. Dog Star pets, families, and foster parents could be seen throughout the market soaking in the sun, exploring the vendors, and socializing in the shade.
One of Dog Star’s foster parents, Chanti Decarish, attested to the importance of the process. “I have children and they really wanted a dog but my son has dog allergies and we weren’t sure what was going to be his reaction. So, we figured this was a good way to get into the swing of things and figure out what dog fits our lifestyle, what kind we like, what breed, if we want a boy versus a girl, temperament, so it’s a good way to one, see what kind you like and two, the foster program is awesome.”
Decarish continued, “You don’t have to pay for anything. Everything is provided for us through the kennel, the volunteers are super helpful, we get behavior training once a week so if we have any issues with the dog they get to help us work those out. So, I thought it was a great way to not only help the dogs but figure out what kind of animal we might adopt at one point, so we’ve been doing it for about a year,” she said.
“I don’t think people realize how many dogs are actually in shelters so our dogs come up, I think from Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. So they come from the high kill shelters down south and we provide housing for them just until they can find families just like this one that just need something extra. These types of events not only bring visibility to the dogs but to the high, high, high rate of dogs in shelters so it’s nice.” Decarish added.
The invaluable event proved to be a special occasion for dogs and their owners alike. While fresh produce and homemade goodies were on display, so were the dogs. With many foster pets still looking for a forever home, the morning allowed for much-needed socialization and visibility for the furry friends.
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