INTRODUCING FROSTED FACES FOUNDATION
Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog – Sydney Jeanne Seward
Being a pet owner is a privilege. It is an immense honour that is all too often taken for granted. The role of a pet owner requires a lifetime commitment – for the duration of that pet’s life. Unfortunately to some this means cutting that lifespan short when an animal companion becomes older and may require additional care. In (far too many) other cases, people will surrender their older pet to a shelter. I recently saw a photo of a ninety minute lineup at a shelter; people were surrendering their pets the day before Christmas! Out with the old and in with the new?
Kelly Smišek, the founder of Frosted Faces Foundation, is working hard to make a difference to the lives of senior dogs by organizing Forever Foster Families for these dogs. Kelly says, “People can be selfish about dogs; they want the young ones or the perfect looking ones. We have to find a different breed of people that want to senior dogs – the people that can see past all of that. The people that foster for us are amazing – they’re all really deep people.”
The inspiration behind Frosted Faces Foundation
Frosted Faces Foundation incorporated and earned 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status effective June 24th, 2014. Since that time, the organization has rescued 65 Frosted Faces from shelters within the Southern California area. The dogs range in age from 7 to 18 years old. ALL 65 Frosted Faces have been placed with Forever Foster Families with the security of lifelong veterinary care through the Foundation.
Kelly has a background in fundraising and was the foster coordinator at a shelter. During time spent at the shelter she saw the need to focus specifically on finding homes for senior dogs.
Kelly started Frosted faces with her husband, Andy. They are a young, hip couple, setting an example for others; senior dogs are not just for seniors. Of course with age comes a decline in health. Since starting the organization Kelly has found more of ‘this type’ of people; people that see the character and life within these senior dogs. Word is getting around as people reach out to Kelly hoping she will find ‘their type’ of senior dog.
Mission of Organization
Frosted Faces Foundation is dedicated to fulfilling the promise of Family to the senior dogs whose love and lives are left behind in the shelter system.
Senior dogs who are abandoned in shelters, whose most certain fate would otherwise be euthanasia. Seniors are often deemed less adoptable and are the first to be put to sleep when the shelter needs more space to accommodate incoming dogs.
Upon rescue, Frosted Faces are promptly provided extensive veterinary screenings and care, in an effort to make them more comfortable and improve their quality of life. Designated Families who have opened up their hearts to a senior dog, then welcome the dogs into their homes while the Foundation continues its ongoing support.
Because we want our Frosted Faces to immediately know the love and comfort that they deserve, we only commit to rescuing dogs with a dedicated Family on deck or if there is an opening at the headquarters of the Foundation.
About the team
The organization started as a one-woman show. Frosted Faces now consists of Kelly and her husband, and a Marketing Director, who takes on secretarial tasks, as well as the growing number of Families that provide Forever Foster care for Frosted Faces. The group is very supportive of one another – even helping the foundation with marketing, mail outs, typing up grants, etc. Families also share stories, advice, and pictures of the dogs enjoying their new lives through a private Facebook group – a community for senior dogs. By sharing their stories with others and leading by example, Forever Foster Families recruit others; that is how the Frosted Faces Family is growing.
Kelly says, “It’s still just as simple as it ever was there are just more of us spreading the word and recruiting more people.”
I know I’m not the only one saddened by countless stories of older dogs being surrendered. Often an older dog will find themselves in need of a new home for other reasons. I asked Kelly to tell us about some of the scenarios they have witnessed
Frosted Faces receives phone calls all day, every day from people seeking assistance to rehome dogs. The biggest reason ‘someone passed away, and the dog has been left behind.’ Or, ‘someone is going to a nursing home and can’t take their companion with them.’ There are organizations that help with this type of placement, but it does take away from those pets whose irresponsible owners just relinquish their dogs to the shelter. Kelly says, “people should have a plan in place for their pets; make arrangements for someone to take responsibility for their companions if anything happens – it’s like organizing life insurance.” Family members making the calls are advocating for the companions needing to be rehomed. Thankfully, these pets do have a voice. Frosted Faces advocates for dogs in high-kill shelters; those that do not have a voice.
How does the organization learn about senior dogs in need?
Kelly and her team will monitor social media posts and listings from high-kill shelters. Shelter workers will also contact Kelly to let her know about dogs they are concerned about – those at risk of immediate euthanasia or that require medical attention for which the shelter is unable to pay.
It helps when Families are on deck, waiting for Kelly to work her match-making magic. Kelly knows what type; temperament, size, and personality a family has shown interest in and will place those dogs almost immediately.
I’ll rescue any senior dog, but I do watch specifically for ones that will be good matches for the people waiting to provide a home to one of our dogs.
What are the criteria for people applying to provide ‘retirement’ homes for Frosted Faces? What is the process? Are there certain qualifiers and restrictions in place?
Kelly says “We rescue dogs 8 years old or older, more commonly 10 years of age and older with an approved, willing Forever Foster Family and $500.00 in pledged donations. The dogs are rescued from the high-kill shelter system of Southern California. Once a dog is left behind in the shelter system he/she has absolutely no advocates. A shelter dog’s family (and their relatives) has relinquished their responsibility to care for the dog, there is no rescue person with a commitment to the dog, and they cannot save themselves!”
In traditional adoption scenarios, Families will have the chance to meet the dog. Because time is limited and immediate action required, Kelly will assess each dog as thoroughly as possible to ensure they will be a right fit with each Family. Forever Foster Families for Frosted Faces rarely meet their dog prior to placement. Where time permits, and if a Family lives close enough to the shelter, they may visit the dog at the shelter beforehand.
Families can be anywhere! If you expect consistent lifelong medical care and food donations, the closer you are to headquarters in San Diego, the more help can be provided – unless you like to travel!
Because Frosted Faces is still fairly new, and small, they rely on donations of food and discounted treatments from partner veterinarian clinics. They are unable to ship food to families and for major medical treatment Families would be required to travel. Those that live further away need to be a bit more independent.
Please review the Family Agreement on the Families page for details about distance.
Families must be willing to drive to San Diego to pick up their Frosted Face, and the dog must be cleared by a veterinarian for travel.
Kelly says they don’t really have ‘restrictions’, more like ‘expectations.’
People who are willing to travel the distance are demonstrating commitment. We like people to show they are invested enough to come and get the dog. We want to meet the people before placing a dog – we are tied to these people for the entire life of the dog. We communicate regularly and ensure good decisions are being made.
Frosted Faces will not ship dogs – it is especially not ideal for senior dogs.
Also, within the contract, Frosted Faces stipulates that if a match is not successful they will take the dog back. When assessing the personality of each dog, Kelly must keep this point in mind.
Kelly explains “The benefit to being a Forever Foster is that you may always come to us for food, supplies, monthly medication, veterinary care for small ailments, or have our veterinarians perform large procedures that are costly. We also provide a senior wellness exam including, but not limited to a CBC, CHEM 28, Fecal Analysis, Urinalysis, and Heartworm test to all Frosted Faces upon rescue. If/When the dog is healthy, we perform the neuter or spay and do a dental cleaning including extractions if recommended.
Anything like food or veterinary care that you provide out of pocket is considered a donation to Frosted Faces Foundation and is tax deductible. Donor receipts are provided at the end of each year for expenses incurred.”
- Review the Family Agreement. Go to the Families page and click on the Family Agreement button. It’s always nice to know what you are signing up for in advance!
- Fill out the Family Application as completely and thoughtfully as possible.
- A Frosted Faces Director will call you for a phone interview to ask follow-up questions, review your expectations, and schedule a home check.
- A volunteer from the Foundation will home check you to verify that your home is dog-friendly and prepared to take in a Frosted Face.
- The designated Frosted Face is rescued, or you stay “on deck” for a Frosted Face that suits your expectations and capabilities.
It is incredibly heartwarming to read the stories of successful placements on the Frosted Faces website. Unlike traditional rescue organizations, you will not find a list of ‘adoptable’ dogs online
Dogs in need of homes are in the shelter system. Residents in Southern California or those willing to travel the distance, please fill out an application. Kelly and Andy will arrange to meet your Family (including pets) via Facetime and determine your perfect match! As soon as a match is found, Kelly will contact you to arrange placement of your Forever Foster Family Member.
Where does the funding, to support the dogs come from?
Fans share in the joy and heartbreak of each rescue and become sponsors of Frosted Faces, covering his/her medical care partially or in full. Dogs requiring consistent medication will be assigned a fan of their own.
Kelly explains “We are completely funded by donations, grants, and fundraisers. We do not have adoption fees, as our primary goal is to place and support our Frosted Faces with Families who welcome otherwise “unadoptable” dogs and are dedicated to fulfilling our promise.”
Donor receipts are provided.
Senior dogs are often overlooked (for adoption) due to the expense of medical treatment that will most likely be required sooner, rather than later. As well, people want a dog that will be with them longer. I asked Kelly her thoughts about this
Kelly finds this very difficult to explain and says “of course you want your dogs to be with you forever.” Sharing her life with senior dogs has always just been what it has been. She knows that realistically, she will enjoy time with her dogs for only a few good years. This realization might make it easier. Kelly has never had a dog for fifteen years. In this case, it is definitely about quality of life rather than the length of time spent together.
All I can say is that I’m glad to be with a dog as it passes and know in my heart that this dog could have died many years earlier without knowing the happiness I was able to give them. It is very rewarding to know that you followed through for that dog.
As a fellow volunteer, I understand there are days that can be overwhelming, and it may be hard to stay focused and positive. Kelly, please share with us a story that inspires you – one that warms your heart and reminds you why you do what you do
Here is the beautiful story of a beautiful dog, Ebba, shared by Kelly:
We rescued Ebba from Devore Shelter on June 23, 2012, with the help of The Barking Lot. The shelter said she was 7 years old, but our vets guessed that she was 16 or 17 years old!
From the moment we saw her scheduled for euthanasia at Devore Shelter last June, we had to save her. When the transporter arrived in San Diego, she introduced me to ‘Twiggy,’ a much smaller and older dog than we had expected. We fell in love with her silly, rigid gait and gentle temperament instantly. She was our first female dog, our little grandma. I named her after a woman I took care of at an assisted living facility in college. My Princess Ebba, Ebba-be-nebula, Ebba-girl, Ebba-lynn.
We don’t know what Ebba’s previous decade of life was like before she was ours, but we are absolutely positive that the past 16 months she spent with us, were the most memorable moments of her life. Ebba came with me to The Barking Lot in the morning, to work at night, and she was always the top pick of the pack to join us for dinner outings. She was my other fluffy half, my little girlfriend.
Whoever left her in the shelter to die, missed out. Ebba had a good year left in her, in fact…her best. No one could have loved her as much as we did. Considering all the sadness we drowned in at her passing, we hope Ebba’s story radiates the amount of love we shared, and encourages you to adopt a senior pet.
We are grateful to have had Ebba in our lives as she was our inspiration in launching Frosted Faces Foundation.
How can people help?
Again, please consider being a Fan of a Frosted Face who needs medical support. This is a recurring donation, where your generosity directly benefits the dog of your choice.
Being a Fan has its benefits too! You are automatically entered into the Frosted Friday draw and increase your odds of winning! Instead of getting $10.00/ticket entry like a typical Frosted Friday participant, when you donate $10.00/month toward a dog as a Fan, you get TWO tickets on Frosted Friday. So for every $10.00 you donate monthly as a Fan, you double your chances of winning on Frosted Friday!
To show their gratitude for your donation, Frosted Faces also recognize your generosity on their Fans page by listing your name near the Frosted Face, who you are supporting.
Frosted Faces would be grateful for short term fosters in the San Diego area for dogs that return for surgery during their recovery period.
The Organizations Goals for the future
Growing the savings account for funds for spay/neuter and dental work that may be required for Frosted Faces. This amount determines how many dogs the organization can rescue into the program.
I can’t imagine having to choose which dogs are saved, knowing that so many others will perish. Of course, you want to save them all. Kelly will rescue as many senior dogs as she can based upon the support in place for the organization; support from Forever Foster families ready to place the dogs and also what funding is available.
Dogs’ lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.
― Dean Koontz, The Darkest Evening of the Year
Thank you Kelly and the Frosted Faces Foundation Family for all your good work!
Please help the organization to save the life of a senior dog – Adopt, Forever Foster, or Sponsor.
Photos courtesy of Robyn Pope – Haute Dog: Couture Pet Photography.