Pacific Spotlight: Carol Laughlin
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but who is watching out for our pets? Some say it is Carol Laughlin. The founder of Fur-ever Kinda Love, a nonprofit animal welfare organization, was nominated for Stripes Guam’s first Pacific Spotlight for her volunteer work in animal welfare as well as children’s education.
Laughlin is also the owner of Pawesome Pooches Grooming Salon and Spa in Asan and married to a Chief Petty Officer stationed on the USS Frank Cable.
She developed her love of animals when her mother bought the family a dog to fill the void because Laughlin’s father, who was in the Navy, was at sea a lot. Laughlin learned that making sure a pet is fed and watered and taken for walks was a great character builder.
Laughlin’s first experience as a pet groomer came about when she gave herself a puppy as a high school graduation present. She did such a bad job at first that there were times she could only walk the dog at night so no one could see them.
As a groomer, Laughlin is like an artist with a blank slate, tailoring the hairstyle to each dog’s personality. Humans assess each person in a moment and she says she can do that with dogs. Laughlin says the most important part of grooming is the interview with the pet parent. The groomer has to know what they are looking for because once she cuts the fur off, she can’t put it back on. She also believes grooming improves the health of animals, extends their life and prevents illness.
HOW DID YOUR LOVE OF DOGS LEAD TO YOUR WORK WITH FUR-EVER KINDA LOVE?
I lived in Guam from 2001 to 2003, and was heartsick by the number of homeless animals there were. More than 6,000 stray cats and dogs are euthanized each year, and Guam Animal Control reports that more than 4,000 are found dead due to starvation and disease. When I heard I was coming back, I was determined to take action and do whatever I could to reduce the number of homeless animals on Guam. Nine months before I came back, I started to prepare how to make a difference. I began(pet) grooming within 30 days of my arrival and got involved in the local community. I use grooming to increase awareness of the responsibility of pet ownership and as a platform to share with people why it is important to take care of your dog.
YOU ARE ALSO INVOLVED WITH THERAPY DOGS THROUGH A PROGRAM YOU STARTED – FOUR PAWS AND A TALE.
Therapy dog programs have been around since World War II. Dogs provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals and nursing homes – people in disaster situations. We bring them into schools and libraries to work with children. Children are able to sit and read to a dog in a comfortable, nonthreatening situation. Several times a month I go to the library with my dog Bumper. One autistic boy was very leery of reading out loud. He watched as several kids read to Bumper. He finally said okay and enjoyed it so much he asked if he could read a second book. If it was in a classroom or with his peers, he couldn’t have done that. Dogs provide comfort and reassurance. I was thrilled. Dogs let kids get past their inhibitions and fears.
THIS HAS SPECIAL USE ON GUAM, DOESN’T IT?
On Guam, English is sometimes a second language. A dog doesn’t laugh if kids mispronounce a word (when they read). It accepts them. Reading scores improve and kids excel and feel more confident. They check the calendar to see when Bumper is scheduled to come.
Unfortunately, only two dogs are qualified – pass behavioral requirements and get certified – on Guam. I want people on Guam to volunteer and get their dogs certified. Dogs are not certified independent of their handlers, but as a team. Handlers are also there to help the kids if they struggle with a word.
THIS ALSO HELPS THEM IF THEY BECOME A PET OWNER?
It may be their first contact with a dog. Kids have a natural affection for pets. We use the program to build awareness about how to be a responsible pet owner.
WHAT OTHER SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS DO DOGS HAVE?
Dogs are good judges of character. They communicate with their bark, but also with their body. They know when someone doesn’t like dogs. I’m wary of anyone my dog doesn’t like.
To learn more about animal welfare activities on Guam or to volunteer, see the Facebook page of Fur-ever Kinda Love.
Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary – even, dare we say, oddball? If so, nominate them here.
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