From the pitter patter of little paws to the jingling of leashes and collars, you can hear Elizabeth Farr coming.
The self proclaimed “crazy Dachshund bag lady,” raises money for the veterinary care of rescue Dachshunds, and helps get them placed in forever homes.
“I feel compelled to help Dachshunds,” Farr said. “I hear the stories from the rescues and I have to do something.”
It all started when Farr’s Doberman was having anxiety issues, and needed a friend. She got her first Dachshund from Oregon Dachshund Rescue, a Portland-based no kill shelter with a tendency toward long-torso and short-legged dogs from California, Oregon and Washington.
She began long-distance volunteering for the shelter by making and selling homemade reusable shopping bags at the local farmers’ markets, holiday market, and San Juan Island Co-op. Farr makes the bags from items she finds at thrift stores. Proceeds from Farr’s bags go toward vet bills as many of the dogs that come into the shelter are neglected and require medical attention.
Farr started out with just 14 bags for sale, and now has a pile of them stacked higher than a Dachshund on its hind legs.
In her years of raising funds for “Doxies,” Farr has become more than just a bag lady. She sells decoupaged vintage day cases, vests and sweaters for pets, potted plants, and dog beds made out of sweaters– “so when they lay in them it looks like they’re being held,” she says in cooing voice.
“If it’s not nailed down,” she said. “I’ll try and sell it.”
She’s doing well for these little hot dogs. In 2014 Farr raised over $4000 for the Oregon rescue, and put in over 700 hours making and selling her products. She also makes trips down to Portland several times per year to help make room in the shelter, which becomes inundated with Dachshunds. She calls these trips “dog runs,” and has had as many as five dogs in her car for the ride back to San Juan.
The dogs she picks up are placed at the local animal shelter in Friday Harbor, where they are put up for adoption. From litters of puppies to full grown dogs, the adoption rate of the Dachshunds Farr brings in is good. She feels very satisfied when she sees “alumni doxies,” around town with their new owners.
The most recent round of Dachshunds Farr brought to the local shelter went fast, except for one. Radar is a one-year-old, Basset-Dachshund mix still looking for a home. Farr describes him as an energetic, cheerful and happy dog that was neglected, but not abused.
Farr has a big heart filled with stories of triumph and tragedy. Like the time she just happened to be on a dog run down in Oregon when the Dachshund Rescue got word of dog in California that was going to be put down.
Thanks to a slew of people, the dog was transported up the I-5 corridor and Farr received her in Portland. She brought her to back to Friday Harbor, where it turned out the dog was pregnant and gave birth to seven healthy puppies, all of which were adopted from the Island
Then there was the female dog that Farr brought to Friday Harbor after a homeless man surrendered her to the Portland Shelter. The dog developed a cough which turned out to be distemper–a contagious, viral illness with no cure. Farr slept on the floor of the isolation room with the dog the night before she was put down.
But everything she does is worth it, even if Farr can only show a Dachshund a little love in its life. Most of the time, she gets the change to absolutely spoil them. Like her current crew of two, Bridget and Nigel, both clad in stylish vests made from a designer skirt.
“It’s my duty to spoil them,” she said. “And to help pay for as many Dachshunds as I can.”
If you are interested in meeting Radar visit the animal shelter in Friday Harbor, and keep an eye out for Farr’s next round of Dachshunds coming through. Oregon Dachshund Rescue is funded entirely by donations. To donate visit www.odr-inc.org, or buy something from Farr at the next Farmers’ Market, Feb. 7, at Brickworks.