Adopted Puppy Inspires 10-year-old Girl to Create a Lifesaving Business

Irene’s love for her puppy, Vader, helped bring him out of his shell—and led her to help other pets in need.

Irene + Vader

Six-year-old Irene’s love helped a shy puppy learn how to trust again. Then she was inspired to help other homeless pets thrive, too.

"I held the donation jar and asked people to donate money to the rescue group, but I realized that I need more skills to help raise money."

I grew up with dogs, and have been around them my whole life. But it took one special puppy to inspire me to learn and help more animals.

It all started when I was six. My family already had two dogs, so we were just going to our local store to get toys, food, and supplies for them. After we arrived, I noticed an animal rescue called Mutts & Meows in Houston, Texas. Of course, I loved dogs so I wanted to see them. But, my parents said “Let’s buy all the things we need, then we can go see them.” We shopped for thirty minutes. Finally, we were ready to see the dogs. I was so excited to see what they looked like, and what their personalities were.

Dog relaxing

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a puppy who looked scared. His eyes were full of fear and anger. I walked up to him slowly and spoke to him softly. His face relaxed, and he seemed to become calmer. “Be careful of that one, he is very scared and afraid of a lot of things,” the volunteer warned. I begged the volunteer to let me hold him, and when I did, I felt a connection right away. I nearly cried at that moment. I knew he was afraid; I was too. But I wanted to save him.

Girl hosting a charity raffle

My parents noticed the special connection between me and the puppy. “Irene, how about you foster that puppy for a week?” That week was so special. I taught the puppy new tricks, and tried to make crafts to decorate him. I wanted to grow up with him in my life and have new adventures together. Soon we became a foster failure and adopted the puppy, who we named Vader.

Girl selling dog supplies

Then I started volunteering for Mutts and Meows, helping them every weekend. I was not allowed to handle dogs. That did not stop me! I held the donation jar and asked people to donate money to the rescue group, but I realized that I need more skills to help raise money. My mom signed me up at the JoAnn Fabrics kids sewing classes. I can make and raffle infinity scarves, I thought! After I could not find a perfect collar for Vader, my mom and I started to learn how to make collars and leashes. Now I have become the cute salesgirl of my little business, BowWowBlingBling, selling collars and leashes at various markets. With the help from my parents and friends, I started an Etsy store, Beauty4Beasts. I want to help animals while making other people’s pets look good.

Puppy kissing girl

To this day, at the age of ten, I have donated sales money as well as collars and leashes to various shelters and rescue groups. So far I’ve raised about $10,000. My sewing skills are at adult levels, and I continue to learn and help. Vader, the little Chihuahua mix, is my inspiration!

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Irene won Mutts & Meows Animal Rescue in Texas a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.

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