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Why I founded the Paws for Giving Gift Shop

Short answer? I had no choice.

Long Answer? Keep Reading.

Nikki Waterson - 13 Jan 2021

Et's introduction time! Bear with me. This is both an exciting and terrifying moment for an introvert masquerading as an extrovert.

Okay here goes...

I'm Nikki Waterson, the Founder of Paws for Giving.

I wanted to introduce myself, and give you the opportunity to peek at the face behind the brand, for a few important reasons.

  • To tell you the things I love.
  • To let you know why I set up Paws For Giving.
  • To explain why I chose to donate 50% of the profit from Paws for Giving to registered small and medium Aussie animal rescue organisations.
  • To open up the floor. Far more enjoyable than talking about myself, I would be to hear from you. So once you've had a read of this, say hello and make my day!

The Things I Love

Ok this one might seem odd. Why would you want to know? But all will become clear, promise. Things I love include:

  • Lists (could you tell?)
  • Animals
  • Problem-solving

So how do these three things connect?

I'm An Animal Lover

Me cuddling my fur-nephew back when he was a puppy

I've always had a strong connection with animals. In a serious way. I used to sing to the lorikeets in the trees in our front yard, making up songs that I wished would make them become my best friends, à la Snow White. Then came Snowy.

Snowy was my first pet, a beautiful budgie. I would create little obstacle courses for him to complete in exchange for bird seed treats.

It's no surprise that I went on to spend hours on end playing with our family pup, Milly the black Labrador. Milly barrelled into my life when I was 11, and we were true partners in crime. We spent hours together. I would train her to run makeshift agility courses, we played with toy hide and seek puzzles, and after a long day of mucking around we would lay under the sun in our backyard together.

It was only years later, as I spent more time out of the family home, that I discovered I actually have terrible dog allergies. Which just shows how focused I was on Milly. I manage these allergies today by channelling my love to my fur-niece, fur-nephew and fur-neighbours for the moment, and am excited to start fostering.

The Day It All Changed

Walking my last pup and my fur-niece on the top of my dugout (underground) home in Coober Pedy

A pivotal experience for me in my animal welfare journey came in 2015. At the time I lived in Coober Pedy, a town in the outback of South Australia. Some friends and I rescued a litter of 7 helpless two-week-old puppies, whose poor mumma was not well enough to feed them. I've written a longer post about this here, but you'll be happy to know that this story had a happy ending.

All pups survived the ordeal and went to loving homes, and mumma received the care she needed for her malnourishment.

It was this experience that gave me my first tangible connections to animal rescues, as well as a glimpse into what the world would be like without the vital work they do.

Experiencing the plight of neglected, abused or homeless animals in Australia, even just a few times, was a spark into action. I didn't want to stand by or do the bare minimum anymore. I wanted to support these heroes and the work they do. I also wanted to make it easier for others - just like you - to do the same too.

I'm A Dork Who Likes To Solve Problems

Me when someone can't get their computer to work

Like many, I feel I'm a helper at heart. The thing I am most passionate about in life is making a difference - for hoomans and animals, and by extension the Earth. I'm still learning how to be an Earth-Ally, but I knew I could at least take immediate action for the animals.

Why? Because I am in my element when it comes to solving a problem. If there is something that feels like a roadblock in life, I'm all about either:
A) dismantling that roadblock, brick by brick or
B) finding a way around it.

I mean, like everyone, I just feel really good when I troubleshoot something, and at the end, it works.

The Problem? The Animal Rescue Funding Conundrum

See, it just doesn't add up does it?

Ever since that night with 7 pups, I actively sought out ways to support my local rescues. And I learnt that the commitment of rescue workers to their cause, in the face of seemingly insurmountable barriers, is nothing short of… well... heroic.

Something I learnt quickly is that Aussie animal rescues, animal sanctuaries and animal shelters form a huge part of Australia's animal welfare management backbone. This would be fine, if these rescues received consistent (or any) government funding for the hard work that they do.

Yet this sector is supported almost entirely by volunteers. Can you imagine working two full-time jobs with one being entirely volunteer?

Despite this, the next truth I learned was that animal rescues tend to never feel that they have done enough. There is always another vet bill to pay, or another piece of essential equipment that can be upgraded, and another animal that can be saved. All before ever paying a living wage to a rescue worker.

Channelling The Dorkiness

Love For Animals
Admiration For Rescue Workers
Love Of Problem Solving
Paws For Giving

Upon learning of the conundrum, I thought long and hard. Then I put my dorkiness to good use.

I thought about how there are so many people, like me, who want to support rescue work. They follow these organisations on Facebook, they keep up to date with their news and they applaud the successes. But, so often, they find it hard to come up with any spare change when their budgets are already stretched. As we all do!

So I thought... what about providing a new stream of revenue to all the small and medium animal rescues out there?

What if that revenue was generated through a gift store that would stock something unique for animal lovers and the friends and family of animal lovers? Items we would buy for our homes, our loved ones and ourselves?

What if the purchases we make every day, or when we can, could go to a cause that we care about deeply?

And thus, Paws for Giving was born.

Donating For A Better Future For All

At Paws For Giving, 50% of our profits go to registered shelters, rescues and wildlife organisations.

That way, rescues can save more lives, and supporters can make buying decisions that they feel proud of, without compromising on what they would usually buy.

I know that Paws for Giving isn't going to be able to fix the problem on its own. But I like to think we are taking a step in the right direction. Right now we are just a drop in the ocean, sure, but each drop has a way of rippling outwards. Of growing in impact.

I continue to be inspired by organisations that are working hard on important projects. Like making the pound a safe place for pets and companion animals (Saving Pets), or reducing the number of adoptable dogs euthanised in Australia to zero (Savour Life).

With your help, Paws for Giving can fight for the underdog rescues too, and make the world a better place for animals, and their hoomans.

Say Hello!

I hope you feel like you know the person behind the Paws logo a bit better now. Please do say hello in the comments, and let me know what you love? If it’s in list form, we will be instant friends!

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