Ahwatukee Foothills residents Marci and Josh Miller never thought they'd be the owners of five large dogs, but once they began fostering and adopting for Valley Dogs they just couldn't say no.
Valley Dogs is a rescue group with no facility or paid employees. It is run by a group of people who simply keep in close contact whenever they find a dog on the street in need of a good home. Volunteers take the dogs in to foster them and then they carefully select who the dog eventually goes home with.
Marci became involved with Valley Dogs when one of her own dogs passed away.
"Right after Moses, who was my first foster adoption 12 or 13 years ago, passed away I just got on the Internet to look for volunteer opportunities with animals, or children, or anything that interests me," Marci said. "Within a week I got an email from them checking us out and asking if we had any experience. We've both grown up with dogs all our lives and so they said, ‘OK, we have a mom and a litter, can you take them?' I said we are doing this. We have to give back."
Once she convinced her husband, they brought the mom and puppies into their home. They raised the puppies and found homes for them in their neighborhood, in Payson, and even with Marci's sister in Wisconsin. The final puppy and mom they kept for themselves because the mom was very aggressive and most likely would not do well in another home.
Some fosters later they received another mother and litter of puppies. This time they were able to adopt out all but one puppy who looked too much like a Rottweiler for most people to trust. After keeping him for four months and getting no requests to adopt him, Marci said she couldn't give him up.
Those three dogs, combined with the two the Millers already had, make five dogs in their own home, but the Millers want to do more. That's why in October they began planning their own fundraiser for Valley Dogs, a golf tournament called Fore the Dogs.
Fore the Dogs, sponsored by Ahwatukee Skin and Laser, will be Saturday, Feb. 25, beginning at 12:30 p.m. The cost is $75 and includes golf, live music from A Boy Named Sioux, a barbecue dinner from the Ahwatukee Country Club, and a live auction. The Millers have set a lofty goal of $10,000, all of which will go directly to Valley Dogs to help pay for vet bills. Each dog that goes through Valley Dogs is spayed or neutered and microchipped before being adopted out.
"The biggest event Valley dogs has ever done raised $9,000 and the same event this year brought in less than $5,000, so once again we're behind," Josh said. "We told the director Ahwatukee was a great community and they would get behind this tournament and that we would make this work. So far we've found a great location and great sponsors, now all we need is golfers."
The Millers say they want the tournament to be more of a party than a tournament. They have prizes for all skill levels so everyone can feel comfortable on the golf course. Even for those who don't want to golf, Marci said they are welcome to come just for dinner and the raffle. Raffle prizes include airline tickets, a ski vacation, a weekend in Rocky Point, and various gift certificates.
"We want this to be a fun event," Josh said. "We want it to be an annual thing people mark their calendars for and look forward to. There are a lot of golf tournaments in Ahwatukee, but we want this to be the most fun of all those tournaments. We want everyone to feel welcome."
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