By: Leif Connor
Hi! Let me introduce myself to those of you who may not know me yet. My name is Leif Connor. I am now 14 years old but have been coming to Goldstock for the past three years. I'm a boy scout, an environment and science fanatic, animal lover, and a very determined “sweetest dog” campaign manager. I wanted to write this because it's that time of year again and I wanted to encourage others to enter this contest and campaign your dogs, too.
My dogs and I have run for three years straight and despite never winning, I feel like we've won every year. The second year, Einstein and I won the Good Sportsmanship award that Laurie created because we came in second and tried so hard. She gave up money from a class she gave to donate towards the rescue I picked to make me feel better about losing the big contest. It worked! It felt great to make some money for my rescue! Last year, my third year, was the closest to actually winning we'd ever come - losing by a mere 13 dollars but it was the most I'd ever raised. That was a personal win for me. There are a lot of reasons why I love running my dogs for “sweetest dog” and I’ve learned, it’s not about getting the most money or winning the whole thing.
The first time I did it was my first year and I didn’t join until early Saturday. It was not easy for me because I had to go up to a lot of adults that I didn’t know and that can be pretty overwhelming for me. My mom came with me and helped me by talking for both of us until I was talking for myself. We raised over 100 dollars and even though I didn’t win, I knew that money was going to help dogs and that because of me, they were going to get more than 100 dollars of extra help. That felt really good and I knew I wanted to try again the next year.
The second year, it got easier to ask for donations. I met a lot of people and made some great friends. Pam gave me some great golden retriever books. Bill took an epic picture of me and my dog. We stayed with Terry and her son, Matt, instead of staying alone. Katie and Karen asked me to help run the computer for the Candle ceremony. Debbie remembered us and gave us rides on her golf cart. I met Jamileh, David, and Matt and got to know the boot camp boys well enough to call them friends. Julie, who works in Antarctica, talked to my science class about the important work she does later in the year when she was actually there. Jaime came to visit us later that year to go to Knoebels.
This brings us to last year’s campaign – Max’s turn again. It was going to be a 60’s theme so we decided to buy and sell pins, necklaces and tattoos. We came a day late but still almost won! But this time when I had to go up to a lot of people to ask for donations, I found it wasn’t hard to do at all. I actually looked forward to talking to them and seeing how their year went. I saw new people as opportunities to make new friends instead of just strangers. Again, I got to help run the computer for the candle ceremony and watch my cat, Spot, on the screen who had passed away and because Katie read my Facebook, she contacted me and offered to add him to the slide show. That meant a lot to me. I met new kids like Joshua. Lois put on some great science experiments that I got to go to. I got to talk to Jodi about some great books. All of these are people who I met while campaigning.
And that is how I feel like I have won every year without actually winning. If I hadn’t had campaigned and entered my dogs for “sweetest boy” each year, I would have missed out on so much that Goldstock has become to me. A happy place, a place filled with people I care about and who care about me. If I hadn’t joined the contest, I wouldn’t have gotten to know a lot of the people who mean a lot to me now. I would have missed out on so much – people, experiences, a bunch of likes on my Facebook posts that remind me they are with me all year. By not entering this contest - that is the only way I would have lost.
This year, it’s Einstein’s turn to run for sweetest boy. I have a lot of ideas to make as much money for rescue as I can. My goal is to beat my personal best for a fourth year in a row. If I actually win, that would be pretty awesome but if someone raised more than my personal best, that would be awesome, too.
I really hope after reading this, you decide you want to enter your own dog. Just remember the most important thing: It’s not about who gets the most money in the end. I have learned that the most important part of this contest isn’t about the finish line, it’s about the journey getting there and the people and dogs you meet along the way. It’s about the dogs you never meet that are able to be saved because you raised the money that was needed to help them. Anyone who enters “Sweetest Dog” wins. I’ve won so much every year and you can, too. Please consider entering your dog for sweetest boy or sweetest girl this year!
PS. Thanks mom for helping me when writing this and helping to organize the words and ideas in this post.