Although the U of M brings in dogs from time to time as a student mental health initiative, there is a largely unknown way in which students can interact with furry friends on a monthly basis. The Boston Terrier and Pug Rescue of Southern Manitoba (BTPRSM) holds monthly dog playgroups where you can interact with dogs of the pushed-in-face variety — many of whom will gladly sit in your lap for a while —while supporting a good cause.
Jessica Klym, president of the BTPRSM, said the playgroups only cost $5 per family and that the rescue provides water for the dogs and “snacks and refreshments for the humans.”
Founded in 2009, the BTPRSM was started because Klym and the other founding members felt there was a need for a Boston terrier and pug specific rescue. These two breeds in particular needed all the special medical attention they required for their unique medical needs — flat-faced dogs often have breathing problems and purebreds are prone to severe allergies.
“There was a demand for it,” Klym said. “There was a lot of people looking for these breeds, but they weren’t quite sure where to go, and how to find them and we thought, ‘Well, if there’s dogs that need help, let’s start a rescue and focus on these two breeds and help them find their forever homes.’”
The BTPRSM takes in dogs that are either surrendered by families that can no longer care for them, or are strays. Its initiative is to get the dogs healthy, sort out any of the dogs’ behavioural issues — if needed — and then find the dogs forever families.
Though the rescue is Boston terrier and pug specific, Klym said it doesn’t discriminate.
“We have taken in all sizes and shapes of dogs from your small little chihuahua to the largest dog we’ve probably taken in was a mastiff cross,” she said.
There is also a subdivision of the rescue — the Manitoba Basset Hound Rescue — that was established in 2013 when one of Klym’s friends reached out to the BTPRSM to rehabilitate a rescued basset hound.
“There was definitely demand for a basset rescue in Manitoba,” Klym said, “and we were the ones that championed it and said ‘let’s take on basset hounds.’”
All of the money raised by the BTPRSM goes directly to the vet care of rescues, specialized diets — as some dogs have allergies or sensitive stomachs — and specialized medications.
“Other dogs are in our long-term care program, that require medications daily, and they’re usually quite pricey,” Klym said.
In order to raise funds to rehabilitate the rescued pooches, the BTPRSM does everything from cash calendars to chocolate bar sales.
“The most popular is probably our […] wine raffle,” Klym said, “we have people donate wine and then we sell tickets and we have a first, second and third prize and the winners win bottles of wine.”
However, BTPRSM’s biggest even of the year is at the Manitoba Pet Expo, held annually at the beginning of June.
“That is probably our largest fundraiser of the year,” Klym said, “just because it brings in so many people and that’s also the same time we hold the wine raffle, so that is a good time of the year for us for funds coming in.”
As for the dogs, the BTPRSM holds its monthly playgroups indoors through the winter months at doggy day camps, and at outdoor dog parks in the summer months.
Klym said the BTPRSM asks that families bring only their well-behaved and well-socialized dogs that are up to date on their vaccines to the playgroups. But if your dog is shy, there is a smaller cordoned-off area if your dog needs time to transition into the bigger play area.
“It’s an hour and a half of some fun time just to sit and watch dogs play and interact,” Klym said.
“We look forward to having anybody come out.”
For more information on the BTPRSM, go to bostonpugrescuemb.com or check out their Facebook page.