Good Neighbors: Dignity Dog

My friends “started calling me Dignity Dog. I’m happy to answer to that.”

Each year, our Good Neighbor Awards honor some of the dedicated neighbors who volunteer their time to help seniors and people with disabilities get the resources and support they need to age and thrive in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are delighted to honor Dignity Dog (and the many people who helped Dignity Dog make so many appearances) as our 2017 Good Neighbor Honoree for organizing and advocacy!

One of the unsung heroes of a campaign to guarantee services for seniors and people with disabilities in San Francisco was a fluffy brown and white dog with bright black eyes.  In the dog’s own words, here’s how it came about:

“One day I was lying around with nothing to do and no one to play with. I kept hearing my person talking about some fun. Finally! My mental commands were having an effect. So when she headed out the door, I tagged along.

“Dogs know we all need to look out for one another. We’re part of the caring communities that make San Francisco a great place to live.”

Boy was I fooled. It turns out they were talking about a fund – The Dignity Fund. Hundreds of volunteers and more than 60 community agencies worked to get this charter amendment passed. It locks in funding every year for services for that population, and was supported by almost 67 percent of San Francisco voters in the November 2016 election.

So, where was the fun? Well, everybody seemed happy to see me, so I just kept coming back. We visited community centers, senior programs, lunch programs, rallies – wherever seniors and people with disabilities hung out

All these people – old people, young people, famous and not so famous people – thought I was cute. They all wanted to have their picture taken with me, and then they sent these photos around on social media. While I don’t like to brag, I might have been the most photographed member of the campaign team. That was pretty fun.

“While I don’t like to brag, I might have been the most photographed member of the campaign team. That was pretty fun.”

In fact, they started calling me Dignity Dog. I’m happy to answer to that. I made a lot of new friends. Young children loved my inner puppy, and I gave older adults – some of whom seemed pretty glum when I walked in the room – something to smile about. 

And then, of course, we brought in new money, so now everyone is smiling. My new friends at the Department of Aging and Adult Services are planning a big outreach effort to determine how to spend the new Dignity Fund dollars. They’re keeping many of my other new friends busy answering their questions.

Seniors and people with disabilities really care about us dogs. Sometimes, we’re the only friends and family they have. Dogs know we all need to look out for one another. We’re part of the caring communities that make San Francisco a great place to live.

Just a reminder to all my friends out there: I’m still here and I’m ready to play.”

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