Pet Sounds…The Animal Care for Artists Coalition
I’ve never met Gigi who is pictured here, nor her human companion and No Depression community member Kim Grant. If you’re a roots music musician or just a fan who lives in the vicinity of Los Angeles, you’ll recognize Kim’s name as she is the publicist, promoter, booker and manager of all things Americana out here in Southern California.
The Grand Ole Echo show she promotes (initially with Pam Moore and now with Julie Richmond) on Sunday afternoons from spring through summer have attracted both national and local musicians over the past six years, and last year’s inaugural Roots Roadhouse Festival will be followed this year on August 14th with artists such as the Sadies, Jesse Sykes, Eilen Jewell, Big Sandy, Mike Stinson and much, much more.
But today’s post isn’t about music or the arts; it’s about the people who bring it to you and their pets.
Through the magic of social networking, where you connect and share life moments with both friends and strangers, last week I read the following on Kim’s Facebook page:
Many of you know Gigi as she is truly a part of the Americana music family in Los Angeles. She needs her friends to chip in and help her with much needed surgery. Her parents, Kimberly and Justin, are dedicated to the arts and animals and very much appreciate your help.
Gigi has a growth in her stomach that is affecting her esophagus and impacting her health. Her vet is ready but she needs your help in order to get this surgery done as soon as possible. We are hoping to raise $2000 in two weeks.
At the bottom of her note, there was a link to the website for Animal Care for Artists, an organization with the following mission statement: “To assist low income individuals, employed in the arts, in covering the cost of medical care for their animal companions.”
Looking through the site, I found this reprinted from a May 2009 report titled Artists in the Workforce, issued by the National Endowment of the Arts: “Those employed in the arts comprise a significant portion of our workforce yet earn less, despite advanced education. They make things and perform services, just like other workers, and these goods and services have value, not merely in lofty and spiritual terms but also in dollars and cents. Without denying the higher purposes of the artistic vocation…artists play an important role in America’s cultural vitality and economic prosperity.”
When I was a kid we never had any pets, unless you count the turtle we had for a while who died and was flushed down the toilet. About forty years ago while visiting a friends farm I was attacked by a dog, with my arms, shoulders and neck getting pretty torn up. Thus began a life that was marked by an incredible fear of dogs. Big or small, tails wagging or growling, they scared the shit out of me. For people who spoke about their pets with love and kindness, it was really hard for me to understand.
Until three and a half years ago when I found Lenny, or by his full name, Shaky Lenny King. He who has been my constant companion since he was a puppy. He who I walk every day while I listen to my music and think. He who sits by my feet as I write. He who has taught me so much.
My wife, who for years has witnessed and lived with my fear and anxiety, is shocked when we go down to the dog beach in Del Mar as I now can stand easily in a crowd of a hundred or more happy, playing canines. And instead of feeling fear, I can see the bonds of love between humans and their best friends. Or more accurately, I can feel it within myself. So you can say that Lenny has turned me into an animal lover. I never imagined it.
Given my current status as an out of work ex-music industry weasel and serial blogger, I was only able to chip in ten dollars to help out Gigi. Kim’s subsequent post that Gigi was refusing to eat and would only drink a little water really concerned me. So I also posted her information on my own Facebook page since I figured I was friends with a lot of other people employed in the arts, as well as a few animal people who might be able to help out. And then I spent some time checking out the website for this particular charity.
Here’s who Animal Care for Artists helps out, and some of what I learned about them:
Fine artists, art directors, and animators
Writers and authors
Producers and directors
Dancers and choreographers
Entertainers and performers
-If you are employed in the arts and your income falls within established low income guidelines and you have incurred or are going to incur veterinary costs for your pet you may qualify for financial assistance.All funds will go directly to your veterinarian upon completion of the required forms, with signatures, and income tax returns (with social security number and date of birth blacked out) for the most recent filing year. If you do not have tax returns and have documentation or unemployment this will also be accepted.
-Our organization is totally donation dependant. There is no paid staff and all donations go towards pet medical procedures and operating costs. The more donations we receive, the more we will be able to donate to those in need.
-Most assistance ranges in the area from $100-$200 at this time. With future growth and donations we hope to be able to do more for our animal and artist friends.
On Thursday came this message from Kim on Facebook:
“It is with a heavy heavy heart that I write this note. Today we took our Gigi in for an exploratory surgery and the cancer was so massive that we had to put her down. She has been my beloved and faithful companion for almost 10 years. She was never ever more than 2 feet behind me and she was the most intelligent and kind dog.
My heart is broken, but I know she was loved by many, she had a good life and will be remembered. I also know that she knew she was loved, which gives me great comfort. We did the right thing for her and as Justin says, “the hardest part will be us missing her.” Godspeed Gigi.
Thanks to everyone that helped with her medical bills, I wish I had a better outcome to report. Thanks to Bliss for bringing chicken broth over when she wouldn’t eat….thanks for all the well-wishes…thanks to Justin for being here and loving his adopted dog as much as I did…and thanks to the great Angel, Laura Menck and her great organization The Animal Care For Artists Coalition, who facilitated the medical rescue with a really loving heart…I owe you so much.”
There sure are no shortage of worthy charities that need money. This appears to be one of them. We talk a lot about supporting musicians by attending shows, and buying music and merchandise from them. This seems like yet another way we can show our love for what they create, and how it enriches our lives.
Much has also been discussed about what value (or not) that social networking has. That it sucks up your time, takes too much information from you, creates a false sense of reality. But for the few days I followed Gigi’s story, it was something that touched me. And it hurt when I read what Kim and Justin were going through when they lost her. And although its just an online life of forgotten friends and lots of strangers, sometimes it seems pretty damn real to me. Like last week…when I felt it tug at a little piece of my heart.
This was for Gigi, may she rest in peace.
Kim Grants website: KG Music Press
Justin Smith’s band: Old Californio