All puppies are adorable, right? Well, yes — but some are definitely more telegenic than others. And deciding which should be given their television close-up on National Puppy Day is one of the many decisions that Barbara Baugnon, the Oregon Humane Society's Marketing and Communications Director, has to make today.
“Can they fit in the arm?" she asks the OHS staffer on the other end of the line. "Are they fuzzy and cute?" The staffer says yes. White or tan? "Tan one. The camera likes tan better. And take a hound for variety," she says with a grin.
That kind of on-the-fly momentum is something Barbara enjoys. "In the 12 and a half years I've been here, there's never one day that has looked like the other day," she says. "Like I think I'm gonna be coming in and doing reviews today and I end up doing something for Doggy Dash. It's really a fun, dynamic atmosphere."
No wonder, then, that she prefers no-fuss, black Doc Martens boots as her shoe of choice — paired with black pants, shirt, and a vest. Every day. "I actually went to parochial school," she explains. "And I loved not ever having to think about what I was going to wear. I kind of create a uniform wherever I go." Barbara’s so attached to those boots she even wore them when she got married — under a typical white satin bridal "uniform."
She was also well-known for those boots when she worked in the ad agencies of New York and LA in the years before coming to Portland. But if you think someone of Barbara's pedigree and position might be a perfectly-coiffed schmoozer, you'd be mistaken. Oh, she can do that! Her Louisiana-by-way-of-Texas upbringing as the middle child of nine ensured the kind of genuine, friendly accessibility you'd find at a crawfish boil. However, there's also a streak of cowgirl practicality that comes in very handy working at the state's largest animal shelter.
"One day we were touring the Mayor, Vera Katz, around," she recalls. "And literally two minutes after she's gone I'm picking up poo 'cause [one of the dogs] had an accident."
Believe it or not, it's those kind of moments that Barbara says make her really appreciate her job. "I love working in a place where everything you do, whether you're bringing puppies to KATU, or other stuff that's not as glamorous, is helping the pets at OHS."
One of the developments that's helped OHS pets the most has been the building of a new shelter, which was followed by a marketing effort led by Barbara. The "End Petlessness" campaign — created pro bono by local agency Leopold Ketel — has not only helped change the public's perception of the shelter, but won several advertising awards as well.
"I did not come up with it, but I did have the smarts to say yes and go for it," she says. "Having this rallying cry that never existed 'til we did it has really served us quite well. Almost immediately, a hundred more people a day started coming through our door."
It's no surprise that Barbara knew a great idea when she saw it: working in advertising is the only thing she's ever wanted to do. "I love advertising," she smiles. "When I was little I loved TV, loved to watch ads."
And she still does. Kicking back in front of the television at home and with her husband, rescue Westies Brodie and Finn, and OHS feline alumnus Ozzie is one of her favorite pastimes. To counter the couch time spent watching Nashville, Mad Men, and commercial-critiquing, she plans to start the Portland FIT. "I did a marathon a year ago. I walked it," she says. "I thought I was gonna run it, and it was very humbling to realize I'm just not a runner anymore."
She is, however, a traveler who intends to one day see the elusive Aurora Borealis for herself. Which means she has another decision to make: Alaska or Norway?
"Both," she smiles.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance, this year Dec. 9th at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio. When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter.