Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
On an average day, Tasha Giacomazzi gets up, feeds her dogs, and goes to work. Director of Family Dogs New Life (FDNL), a nonprofit no kill dog shelter, on arrival, she again feeds the dogs. After a day of interacting and finally putting the dogs to bed, she goes home to do it all again. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I feel so fortunate, I really do,” she says swinging her signature head of colorful braids and dreadlocks. “I love everything about this. As a teenager, deciding what I wanted to do with my life, I always felt strongly that I wasn’t someone who was just going to get up and go to work, clock in, clock out, and come home. I really needed to do something that I loved and was passionate about."
And she does. While she may not look or sound the way many expect of a successful business owner, that’s exactly what she is.
Tasha and her husband Justin began FDNL in 2004 as a refuge for dogs who didn’t fare well in traditional shelters. Celebrating 11 years in February, Tasha says Family Dogs’ success is a culmination of work, love and family — in fact, that's why "family" is in the shelter's name.
“My husband and I started dating when we were 14, and we’ve been connected at the hip ever since," Tasha says. "Our interests and involvement in animal rescue happened together, and founding Family Dogs happened together. I love the growth and the accomplishments we’ve made over the years, and I also love that it’s always involved close friends."
While some might want a break from dogs after spending all day working and playing with them, Tasha and her husband happily go home for more — to their own five dogs in their SE Portland home. Tasha says if she could, she’d have even more.
It's kind of a hazard of the business, says the passionate, soft-spoken young woman. “It didn’t take too many years working with a rescue before we went from having one dog to a few,” she laughs. “Some of them grab ahold and I just can’t let them go, and they end up part of our family.”
Dogs and other animals have always been a part of Tasha’s life, which she’s spent mostly in Oregon, and for a time, on a farm in Montana.
“I really was one of those little girls that just loved being outside, playing in nature, playing in the dirt. I think that just lends itself to loving animals from a young age,” she says. “We always had a dog at home, and my family in Montana always had livestock, horses and peacocks. I wanted to bring home the stray dogs and stray cats and birds — I definitely was one of those kids.”
As one of “those,” it’s no surprise that the shoes she points to as “her,” are well-worn brown Wellies . . . but she does enjoy dressing up on occasion.
"Usually I'm covered in dog hair and dog drool, and rubber boots are versatile. I can put them on, wear them to work, clean the dogs in them. I can go outside, garden, clean the yard. Then I can hose them off and put them on with a dress and go out and stomp through mud puddles!"
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 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.
Jane Alexander is a promotions coordinator and junior copywriter at Entercom Radio in Portland as well as a freelance writer.