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Oakbog Provides Tech Support to Phinney’s

May 5, 2016

Adam Rosen, owner of Oakbog Professional Services, first became intrigued by the work we do at Phinney’s Friends after reading an article about us in the Boston Globe in 2014. The article talked about how Phinney’s helps pet owners keep their pets through hardship, and featured Arlene, one of our clients, who owns — and loves very much — a service dog named Cody.

Adam agreed that the bond that exists between animals and their owners is especially important when people are dealing with difficult times, as this is when people need the comfort of their pets the most.

Adam made a donation to Phinney’s and registered for our mailing list. But the next year he wanted to do more. He reached out to Phinney’s Friends’ President, Daniela Caride, and expressed his admiration for the work being done and offered to assist in any way he could. ­­­

After discussing a few options, Adam and Daniela found the perfect fit: technical support! Oakbog is a company that Adam founded to solve technical problems and provide advice for Apple-focused computing needs, and many Phinney’s volunteers use Apple computers and other devices when working for Phinney’s Friends.

Adam fondly refers to himself as a “plumber of the high tech.” Oakbog provides various levels of support for its clients — some call when they need help with a specific task such as setting up a new iPhone or Mac, while others call for assistance with upgrades, email problems or more complex issues.

Adam’s interest in Mac computers began when he watched the original (and now-famous) Apple commercial during the 1984 Super Bowl. He started using Macs in college while a Physics major at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA. The Mac represented a change to computers with a graphical user interface, with a focus on fonts and pictures never seen before outside of academia. While enabling the use of a Graphical User Interface was a major evolution for computers, Apple with the Mac also made this technology affordable to the masses. According to Adam, this was truly revolutionary.

While studying at MIT, Adam used Microsoft Word and Excel (available for the Mac before Windows even existed) to put together lab reports for his Physics classes. By the time he graduated, Adam had taken numerous computer programming classes and wrote a physics learning program on the Mac for his senior thesis. As the Mac became more popular and customers began to bring them into their homes and business, a new need arose – that of a computer specialist who could assist Mac users.

Adam had been providing technical assistance for Macs at a recording studio and a few clients on the side. In fact, many of Adam’s family members and friends came to him for tech support, and he was their unofficial IT guy! Therefore, ten years ago Adam decided to start his own business in technical support. The company grew through technical experience and targeted marketing, along with the rise in the use of Apple devices in the past decade.  Oakbog now supports not only Mac computers, but also iPads, iPhones, Apple TVs and many other devices.

According to Adam, the most satisfying aspect of running his own business has been working hard, helping people, and watching it succeed.  While coming up with new ways to make Oakbog thrive, he truly enjoys his work – and the ability to set his own schedule!

When not working Adam enjoys rehabbing his old house and repairing many of its quirks. He also enjoys vacations with a “technical savvy twist,” such as visiting destinations with a computing history. One such get-a-way that Adam mentioned was his trip to Toronto last year to visit an area vintage computing museum.

Not that Adam has to travel far to happen upon a museum of this variety — he actually houses a collection of vintage computers that celebrate Macs’ 30+ yearlong legacy. Called the Vintage Mac Museum, it is a working collection of the older generations of Macintosh computers. Adam has found that many people really want their old Macs to go to a good home when they have finished using them, and he is happy to provide that (when space permits). His museum also includes many rare items, such as examples of an Apple Mac logo that was never used and several prototype devices.

Oakbog supports customers in their homes and businesses. Adam enjoys these visits not only for the technical support aspect, but also because he gets to spend time with his clients’ pets. A self-professed “cat-person,” Adam has even become quite fond of dogs after working with so many clients who have dogs over the years! He especially cherishes his two cats — 15-year-old Fudge and 13-year-old Oreo — who keep him on his toes (and occasionally try to “assist” with typing on the keyboard).

Adam is happy to work with Phinney’s Friends to provide technical support for using Macs, email management and internet issues, and even helping with the newsletter via programs such as Mail Chimp. And we, of course, are thrilled to have him on the team and look forward to a long collaborative partnership with Oakbog. Thank you, Adam!

For more information on Oakbog, visit oakbog.com.

Letter From our President

April 12, 2016

I hope this note finds you well and excited for spring, with its warm days with friends, family… and pets! I’d like to tell you what a special year 2016 is for us all — we are celebrating 20 years of Phinney’s Friends! And we have not only survived but thrived, making tremendous progress towards helping people and their pets, especially since 2009, when we incorporated as an independent nonprofit. Her are some of our more recent accomplishments:

  •     Launching our Emergency Program in 2012, which helps low-income people with urgent pet needs, such as covering a life-saving vet bill or providing fostering for pets of families who become homeless. With this program, we almost doubled the number of pets we help yearly.
  •     Creating our Pet Boost Program, which distributes donated and purchased pet supplies to low-income families in need. Most of the people we help through this program are battling HIV or AIDS. Our efforts give them a much-needed boost and removes one worry from their plates — getting their beloved pets fed every day. This program allowed us to double the amount of families we help with ongoing care.
  •        Expanding our reach from the Boston area to statewide, thanks to the tenacity of our volunteers who work hard screening clients, partnering with vet clinics, and traveling far and near to walk dogs and care for cats.
  •        Establishing long-lasting relationships with pet businesses that make our funds stretch further —thanks to their generous discounts and fundraisers. Some of our long-term partners are Crate Escape, Deloitte, Every Pet Mobile Vet, Hudson Animal Hospital, Kindness Animal Hospital, Morgan Lewis, MSPCA/Angell, Newton Highlands Pet Grooming, Parkway Veterinary Hospital, Pet Source, PETCO, Pooch Palace, Polka Dog Bakery, Skipton Kennel, Westford Veterinary Emergency and Referral Center, and VetCall.

We are very proud of our accomplishments because, through our urgent assistance and ongoing care programs, we have been able to save hundreds of pets who would have been otherwise left homeless or, even worse, euthanized. We kept them home with their families who loved them dearly. So, a big thank you and congratulations to all our partners and volunteers. No matter how big or small your contribution to Phinney’s was or still is, rejoice with the same enthusiasm! We can only do it as a team.

Looking forward, the sky is the limit. So many pet owners still need our support. Let’s make sure they are able to keep their beloved pets home, safe and healthy.

With that in mind, let’s work hard on the projects that will shape the future of our organization. Among our most recent initiatives are applying for grants on a regular basis and expanding our support to pets of people living with HIV and AIDS, and pets of war veterans.

Some of our projects are already becoming a reality this year. We just launched our Sponsorship Program, which offers opportunities for people to financially support specific pets under our wing. We are also launching the Liam’s Fund to support the ongoing care of the diabetic dogs of low-income people.

As you can see, that is all very exciting. So Happy 20thAnniversary, Phinney’s Friends! We invite you to get as much involved as possible. Together we can make an even bigger difference!

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Fun Spring Activities with Your Dog

April 10, 2016

Comet_Sarge-150x150Looking for a few fun activities to do with your dog this spring? There are plenty of pup-friendly options that you will love!

Check out this post by Petfinder that suggests fun outdoor activities, such as camping, swimming, hiking and more.

Other spring adventures from Barkpost include trips to the ocean, frisbee practice and tug of war. Read more of their unique spring activities here.

Have you ever tried biking with your pup? This Healthypaws article suggests ways to bike with your dog for a bit of mutual exercise.

Lastly, Petcentric provides many exciting options to enjoy the warm weather with your pup, in this spring related blog post.

Now, get outside and enjoy the beautiful spring weather with man’s best friend!

 

Phinney’s Friends and PetSource (and the Easter Bunny!) Welcome Spring with Easterpalooza!

April 2, 2016

Phinney’s Friends jumpstarted spring this year with the annual Easterpalooza at the new Pet Source in Littleton, MA. Pets are members of the family, keeping us warm and happy through the long New England winters. Easterpalooza celebrates this relationship, capturing cute dogs with the Easter Bunny, and in turn, donations are made to ensure pet parents in need can keep their furry kids happy and healthy.

The event was made possible through the generosity of 13 Phinney’s Friends volunteers and the family-run Pet Source, who recently opened a location in Littleton, MA. Below are all the pups that posed with the Easter Bunny, in order from left to right:

Greta
Alice
Sophia
Romeo
Ellie and Allie
Nucky and Reggie
Jack
Riley

Easterpicture

“Pet Source is a wonderful store, with high-quality products for caring pet owners, and a business that cares for its customers and the community,” says Daniela Caride, President of Phinney’s Friends and a customer at the Concord store. “We are so grateful for their continued support and the enthusiasm of their clients.”

Greta won the contest by giving the Easter Bunny sweet kisses, receiving a gift basket of treats worth $50!

We look forward to our next Phinney’s event, and in the meantime stop by any Pet Source location to donate to our cause or visit our site, www.phinneys.org, to see how you can get involved!

Also, if you are interested in checking out some adorable videos from the event, check out our YouTube channel! https://www.youtube.com/user/phinneysfriends

EastervolunteersEastervolunteers2GretaEaster

Scrappy the Jack Russell is Pain Free and Happy

March 30, 2016

Cynthia’s dog Scrappy, a Jack Russell Terrier, is fairly young at around six years of age. So it came as a surprise to her to find out Scrappy was suffering from glaucoma.

Cynthia found this out when she took Scrappy to his veterinarian after he was accidentally hit in his left eye with a toy. Scrappy’s vet suggested that Cynthia take her doggie to a veterinary ophthalmologist because the issue needed to be looked at by a specialist. By then, a film had developed over both of Scrappy’s eyes and a pre-surgery exam discovered that his right eye had increased pressure due to glaucoma. The ophthalmologist said both of Scrappy’s eyes would have to be removed, as the condition was painful. He could no longer see.

“It was heartbreaking. He had to go through such a big ordeal. I cried my eyes out,” Cynthia said.

Not only was Cynthia upset about the idea of Scrappy having his eyes removed, but she also had to worry about how to pay for such an expensive surgery. The specialist told Cynthia that some people in her situation choose to have their dog or cat put down, but Cynthia knew that wasn’t an option.

“I love my dog and that’s not what you do when you love your animal,” said Cynthia, who knew Scrappy could have a long, happy life even without being able to see.

Fortunately, Scrappy’s vet told Cynthia about Phinney’s Friends and the work we do to help low-income Massachusetts residents and their pets stay together by fostering and helping pay for boarding or veterinary services. Phinney’s stepped in and paid for this little dog’s surgery.

“I never knew there was something like that out there,” Cynthia said.  “I thank Phinney’s Friends for their help because I didn’t have the money.”

Scrappy had double eye removal in December and has been making a slow but steady recovery at home with Cynthia. She has worked with Scrappy a lot since the surgery to get him accustomed to life without eyes, and he continues to be a very energetic dog who loves everybody.

“He’s doing well. He’s back to being Scrappy.” And for that, we are so glad.

scrappy

A Healthy Mouth for Katie the Cat

March 26, 2016

Deborah’s cat Katie means everything to her, which is why she was horrified to discover a mass in Katie’s mouth in January. It started with Katie having difficulty eating and blood in her saliva that would sometimes drip onto the fur on her white chest.

“I just knew it was bad,” said Deborah.

When Deborah took Katie to the Vet’s office, the Veterinarian told her the mass would have to be removed at a cost of $1,200 to $1,400. The price was far too great for a woman who lives off of social security.

“I was devastated. I lay down on the floor and cried because I don’t have that type of money. It was a punch in the gut when this happened,” she said.

Deborah knew she had to find a way to help Katie, so she started by calling a local humane society. Several referrals later, she found out about Phinney’s Friends.

That spot of hope was almost dashed when Deborah heard a message on Phinney’s voice mail that stated that we were not taking on any new clients at that time – we were just stretched so thin with the clients we already had. Luckily, Deborah decided to leave a message detailing her situation anyway, and one of our Client Coordinators called Deborah back the same day. We try very hard to help everyone, so we had to step in to help Katie.

Once Phinney’s verified Deborah was eligible for Phinney’s funds, Katie was able to have surgery to have the oral mass removed, which a dental radiograph showed was not cancerous! Yay!

It took less than a week after surgery for Katie to be “back to her wonderful self,” and Deborah is forever grateful to Phinney’s for making that happen.

“Phinney’s Friends were able to step in and help in more ways than one, and I’ll never forget that,” she said.

Deborah and her cat Katie are an example of how Phinney’s Friends helps people in Massachusetts and their pets stay together through our Emergency Program, which offers fostering and helps pay for boarding and veterinary treatment for the ones in need. Happy tails, Katie!
Katie

For the Love of Wiley: Foster Manager Lisa Ballard Knows Firsthand the Importance of the Human-Animal Bond

March 16, 2016

If you’re a volunteer with Phinney’s Friends, then you know Lisa Ballard. She’s the cheery, energetic Foster Manager who sends out emails with pictures of all our beautiful, furry clients in need of foster care. She recently took over the position for Lauren Terry, our former Foster Manager who was recently promoted to Foster Coordinator (congrats, Lauren!).

To call Lisa an “open book” is an understatement. When we interviewed her for this article, she was warm, funny, and 100% willing to share about herself, her love of animals, and what brought her to Phinney’s Friends.

Lisa knows firsthand about the importance of the human-animal bond. When Lisa was living in Oregon, she ended a relationship and moved out of her home with nothing more than her suitcase and Wiley, her beloved Black Lab whom Lisa calls “the best thing to come out of that relationship” (he was a gift from her ex). Lisa was living in a state where she did not know anyone, and Wiley filled the role of best friend, confidant and protector. He made her feel safe and helped her get up and get out of the house even when she was feeling down. No matter what, he was always there for her. Lisa doesn’t think she would have made it through those hard times without Wiley’s love and support.

When Lisa left Oregon and moved back East, Wiley of course came with her. And, as luck would have it, Lisa met a lovely man named Dave who lived in her building and happened to have a Golden Retriever named Luci, who quickly became a dear family member of the doggie kind. The four joined forces and decided to become a family. Sadly, Wiley passed away, but Lisa says she will never forget her best friend and companion. During the grieving process, Lisa developed an even stronger bond with Luci (who, too, has crossed the rainbow bridge), as she was there to help Lisa through that difficult time.

Lisa was still grieving the loss of Wiley and between jobs when she came across a Phinney’s ad in the volunteer section of Craigslist. She was immediately drawn to Phinney’s mission of keeping the human-animal bond in times of crisis, given her own bond with Wiley during hard times. She decided to give volunteering with Phinney’s Friends a chance. The rest, as we say, is Lisa is Phinney’s Foster Manager and Administrative Manager by title, but she describes her duties as “a little bit of everything,” and “whatever Phinney’s needs.” Lisa is working part time, so she has some extra time to step in when needed – to call clients to set up vet checks and see how they are doing, find fosters for animals, coordinate transportation for pets being fostered, and all sorts of clerical work. She loves the flexibility that Phinney’s gives her; and it allows herto do a little bit of everything, which she very much enjoys.

When asked about what she loves most about volunteering with Phinney’s, Lisa says it’s the fact that we take care of people’s pets in order to keep people and their pets together. We don’t try to get the pets adopted out – we find foster care, pay vet bills, and do what we can to honor the bond between the owner and the pet, which is crucial not just for the pets, but for their human.

Lisa loves that she gets to help both people and pets at the same time. The immense relief people get when they know that their pets are going to be well taken care of makes all the hard work worth it. When she puts her head down on her pillow at night, she thinks to herself she may have never met this cat, or that dog, but somehow she just found them a foster home and the vet treatment they needed.

“These pets won’t end up in shelters, and they will be reunited with the humans that love them when the time is right,” she adds. We give these animals a voice, and Lisa says that’s such a gratifying feeling.

Lisa loves that all the volunteers offer a different area of expertise – from marketing to animal care to fundraising. Working with different people has taught Lisa more about admin tasks, database management and other skills that can transfer to other jobs and in life in general, she says.

“Let’s say you want to be an event coordinator and you are right out of school and need experience,” she says. “You can get that experience at Phinney’s, in a really supportive and wonderful environment. The opportunities for gaining useful skills are endless, and you can volunteer as little or as much as you want. You can participate in a few events, take care of animals or work in an administrative role.”

Lisa also feels Phinney’s is a good match for her because there aren’t many levels of bureaucracy to get through before you can talk to someone and share ideas. If she wants to talk to our President, Daniela Caride, she can just send Daniela an email. And, unlike in many other organizations, the President will email you back!

Lisa looks towards the future with excitement as she works on establishing a new bond. She and Dave have just adopted a pit bull mix named Nugget. He is very sweet but very nervous, and Lisa and Dave are working on getting him physically healthy and mentally happy. Lisa explained that Nugget “is turning around.” “He’s a dog who is learning to trust people. It takes a lot of patience, and it is a learning experience for Dave and me.”

Happy tails, Nugget! We know you are in good hands and here’s to many more years of Phinney’s Friends!

wiley2wiley1

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