Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
“I really have found my dream job,” says Sam Ellingson, Outreach and Strategic Partnership Coordinator at the Humane Society for SW Washington (HSSW). “Who wouldn’t want to spend their day surrounded by animals? Helping animals is so rewarding.”
One of those surrounding him is his dog Charley, a rescue from HSSW who is content to sleep under Sam’s desk until his noontime walk. An even-tempered friendly Spaniel mix, Charley is almost always with Sam; he loves kids and people.
“I knew that whatever breed of dog I would get would have to be great with kids since a large part of what I do is education and outreach,” says Sam. At just 17 pounds, Charley is not exactly the type of dog Sam expected to have as an adult. "I grew up in a rural small-town community in Minnesota and we always had big dogs. I always thought I would have a big dog, but the minute I met Charley I knew I had to take him home. It was like he had picked me.”
Charley shares his home with two female feline friends: Mama, a brown Tabby, and Panda, a Snowshoe, both strays.
Sam’s love of animals started when his dad dated the local veterinarian when Sam was a kid. “I use to spend every day just hanging around the clinic, watching and wanting to help. I found a love and compassion for animals at a young age, which is why I enjoy working with kids and teaching them about caring for dogs and cats.” “In many ways, this job feels like coming home.”
A self-proclaimed “total home-body,” Sam loves working on projects, especially in his home and yard, pursuing the perennial to-do list in his head.
Sam’s perfect evening starts with an early happy hour with his wife at a favorite local spot in their St. John’s neighborhood. “We joke that we are like senior citizens trapped in thirty-year-old bodies, as we’re usually home by 7 or 8.”
“I love the local breweries and could eat tacos every day,” he says. “I guess my guilty pleasure is that I keep a box of ‘Cheese –Its’ in my drawer at work at all times. That is my go-to snack,” he laughs. "I love cheese, anything with cheese. You can’t grow-up in Minnesota and Wisconsin and not love cheese.”
Sam graduated from the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse, with a degree in Costume Design for Theatre. “I did a little acting in school and lived and worked in New York for a while. I think people would be surprised to know that I was on the wardrobe team and toured SE Asia with the first international tour of Sponge Bob Square Pants Live: The Sponge Who Could Fly.”
Could this sweet man have a pet peeve? “I guess my pet peeves come from living in New York ... I get annoyed when people walk slowly in places like Ikea, and with people who mumble. In New York everyone is loud and needs to be somewhere,” he laughs.
“I am definitely a type-A personality. I think people would describe me as funny and creative with a good sense of humor. I am always laughing at myself. My desk is always clean and I am a very organized multi-tasker. I love to problem-solve and take on a challenge.”
On Sam’s bucket list is “To travel for the sake of traveling. We spend all our vacation time going home to visit family and friends, which we love of course. My family has a summer cabin in the woods on a lake in Northern Minnesota, and I’ve always loved it there. I am also fascinated by Social Anthropology how we, as people, change and influence the world around us. What we do, what we make, and how we structure our societies and communities. ”
Overall this genuinely nice guy hopes people see him as passionate about his work and career, and that he’s is trustworthy and always gets the job done but isn’t afraid to ask for help occasionally.
And last but not least … he believes that nothing in life should be so stressful that one cannot step back and “lighten up.” He says in most cases there are more important things than getting worked up over the small things.
As for the shoes that personify Sam? “I wear my shoes to death. I had to retire the last pair as I’d worn all the way through the sole. I just cannot seem to let go of shoes. My vintage-inspired Nike’s are 3 years old and super comfortable. They have been on lots of hikes, walks in the snow, and have tromped through streams. They were my standby ‘casual Friday’ footwear for a long while. The sole got so thin that I actually stepped on a burr while hiking in Hood River … the burr went through the sole and into my foot. They are thin and dirty and not suited for much more than yard work now,” he sighs.
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.
Melinda Thompson is a freelance writer with a degree in Speech Communications and a coveted "Ducktorate" from the Walt Disney World Company. She has been featured in many local magazines and newspapers. She lives in Vancouver USA with her husband, son and daughter.