Originally published in Saltwire News

In a Big Brothers Big Sisters match, the Big and the Little grow a wonderful connection, and sometimes the most magical parts of that relationship happen through pets! Many of our Littles absolutely love their Bigs’ pets, like dogs, cats, and most recently… a donkey named Lou Lou. How wholesome is it to bring your beloved pet and Little together so they can also develop a friendship. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester, we love getting flooded with photos of our Littles with their Bigs’ animals. It is incredibly heartwarming to see the light a dog or a cat (or a donkey) can add to a child’s life, and plus, our staff are huge animal lovers ourselves. Littles and pets do all kinds of activities together, from walks and outdoor adventures, to baking together and getting cozy on the couch. One in-school mentor even brought her pooch to school to visit her mentee! It is a privilege to see the joy a pet brings, like the joy a Big provides.

Some of our favourite dog people up the road in North River are Marcel and Reta from Red Woof Inn Doggie Daycare, who often have up to twenty-six (yes, twenty-six) dogs in their care in the run of a day! They and their clients have been supporting BBBS for the last four years, since we moved to North River in the first place. It is unbelievable how quickly Marcel, Reta and their clients come together to happily provide donations for our Littles. This November, they generously and miraculously came together to collect 105 gifts in less than 30 days! In September, they donated about 60 backpacks filled with school supplies, and during the summer, they sponsor “Yappy Hour” at Fundy Scoops. Our Yappy Hour Special is an ice cream cone with a Milk-Bone hanging off the top, perfectly delicious for our furry visitors. It certainly is a highlight of the week for Fundy Scoops staff!

Marcel, Reta, and their clients are very community minded, and when they want to do something for BBBS, it happens quicker than a blink of an eye. Dog people are kind people. Bigs are kind people. So are our Littles. We encourage every opportunity to enrich a young person’s life, in whatever form they need. Dancing and baking in the kitchen with your friend and their golden sounds like dreamland, except that we get to make it a reality. We are so grateful for the help of Red Woof and their clients; their charitability is truly mind-blowing. We are also grateful for our volunteers and other community supporters who make matching possible. Dogs, cats, and various farm animals: we couldn’t do this without you either. As the holidays approach, we encourage holding those you care about close, whether animal or human.

If you want some excitement to your social media feed, we highly recommend following Red Woof Inn, where you will find daily photos of dogs hanging out, playing, and wearing sweaters in the winter months. BBBS Colchester also shares all kinds of photos of matches, Bigs, Littles and pets!