Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
“When I say my dogs are ‘foster failures’ I mean they were fosters I failed to give back,” laughs Amanda Ferguson, who lives with foster failures, Tito and Peaches, both Chihuahua mixes; cat Mr. Skinny; and 5-foot-long Fydo, a bright orange corn snake.
“I spend most of my free time volunteering and working with dogs,” she says. “I work with PAW Team as their spay/neuter coordinator and am on the Board of BAPBR (Born Again Pit Bull Rescue) running the “Snip Your Pit” program. I also foster dogs and sometimes kittens, and have volunteered at OHS for nine years.”
Among her proudest creds? Arranging free or low-cost spay/neuter for more than 400 dogs and counting.
Raised in North Carolina, Amanda moved to attend the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she volunteered with a group giving new life to discarded bicycles.
“I worked with a nonprofit bike cooperative fixing scrap bikes and teaching low-income youth about basic bike maintenance. We shipped bikes and parts to South America and Africa where they would be fixed and sold to spur local economies. It was a very cool experience and I loved working with the youth.”
Eventually longing for a smaller city and more time outdoors, in 2006 Amanda was able to negotiate moving her position as a home-based food science research journals editor to Portland.
In the summer Amanda digs hiking, camping and backpacking; during winter you’ll find her on the slopes on a snowboard or snowshoes.
“I love the outdoors and have always been a bit of a tom-boy,” she says. “So my shoe is of course one I can wear every day — a vegan Saucony tennis shoe that’s very worn and comfortable. I walk every day, and wear them till they are worn out. I love that no animals were harmed in the making of these shoes.”
Vegan herself, Amanda loves to cook and garden. “I bought a house this year with a huge yard so next year my garden will be much bigger. Growing my own food is something I learned growing up . My mom taught me how to cook at a young age, so now I take those southern comfort foods and turn them into vegan recipes — like BBQ Tofu and fluffy Carolina biscuits!,” she laughs.
Also a fan of good Scotch, Amanda points to this as an occasional guilty pleasure.
“I guess I am diverse . . . I’ve ridden a motorcycle for 15 years and love the outdoors, but I also love to read and enjoy my quiet time.
Indeed, it was a book that led her to become more involved with animals. "The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell really made me want to increase my work with dogs. I started to get involved with animal nonprofits after reading that book.”
A study in fascinating, sometimes contrasting interests, there’s more. “It might surprise people that I have a strong background as a belly dancer,” Amanda smiles. “I was in a dance company where we performed in educational and cultural events all over Chicago, doing classical Egyptian, Middle Eastern and North African dances.” Also a dance instructor, Amanda says of the six-year adventure, “It was so much fun!”
Her bucket list includes a cross-country motorcycle camping trip; travel to places she’s never been, like Africa, India, South America, and more of Asia; and backpacking around more of the Cascades.
“It’s funny; I haven’t thought about this in a long time, she laughs … but as a kid I dreamed of becoming an Air force Jet Fighter Pilot. I was obsessed! I had posters all over my room and thought for sure that’s what I would be when I grew up.”
What she’s become is infinitely more interesting.
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.