Luncheon goes to the dogs

Courtesy of Stuart Shore

Holli Pfau’s therapy dog Chatter isn’t sure what to make of Aero the stuffed-dog door prize. Pfau gave a presentation at the Book and Author Luncheon hosted by the American Association of University Women on March 10 at the Durango Public Library. Chatter is one of six golden retrievers Pfau has rescued. Pfau was discussing her book about the rescues, Pure Gold.

The plethora of authors in Durango made the front page of the Herald about a week ago, so the organizers of the American Association of University Women clearly had a lot of potential choices for headliners at this year’s Book and Author Luncheon. They chose a winner in Holli Pfau, who delighted the crowd March 10 at the Durango Public Library.

Pfau, the author of Pure Gold: Adventures with Six Rescued Golden Retrievers, didn’t just talk about the dogs she had rescued, she brought one of them. Chatter now works as a therapy dog.

So Chatter wouldn’t be lonely, there was a whole table dedicated to “working” dogs. K. Redford was escorted by Pembrook, a retired guide dog. Two guide-dog puppies in training, Muffin, who came with her pack leader, Nancy Peake, and Ryder, who is learning his paces from James and Sue Mooney, really upped the cuteness factor.

Aline Schwob’s dog, Sprite, is a retired guide dog breeder who has a second career as a hospital therapy dog. And Cress and Shirley Fleming’s poodle, Stella Artois, is both an agility and therapy dog. Stella, Shirley Fleming said, is too smart for her humans on occasion.

Pfau’s talk was enlightening, humorous and heartfelt, making it clear why her book has been a bestseller for months at Maria’s Bookshop.

Folks from Maria’s were on hand to sell books afterward, and Pfau surely went home with writer’s cramp after signing them all. The store donated $2 from every book sold that day to the La Plata County Humane Society, as well as a life-sized stuffed golden retriever named Aero as a door prize. Aero threw Chatter for a loop. He looked like her, but there was no sniffing going on – at least on Aero’s part.

Barbara Shore ably led the luncheon committee again this year. Her committee of stalwart volunteers included Marcy Branham, Bernardine Cox,Marilyn Garst, Teresa Jordan, Jane Marentette and Marilyn Sandstrom. Lou Falkenstein and Kathleen Adams helped at the event.

Jordan, who’s a Stampin’ Up! independent demonstrator in her spare time, created impressive centerpieces featuring wistful canines, along with some fetching felines, living at the La Plata County Humane Society until they find their forever homes. I hope a few were adopted after the luncheon.

Katherine Burgess, vice president for membership, served as mistress of ceremonies. In a nice touch, she called the tables up to the buffet line by the names of the animals featured on their centerpieces.

Linda Illsley of Linda’s Local Food Café catered the meal for the 80 guests. The menu featured a chicken polenta casserole, mixed greens with orange vinaigrette and lemon curd with berries and whipped cream. It got rave reviews across the board.

The luncheon, as fun as it was with the dogs and all, was held for a serious purpose: to raise money for scholarships, both for the national organization of AAUW and the local chapter’s Janet Watson scholarship at Fort Lewis College, which is given to nontraditional students. Along with some outright donations, the group raised more than $1,900 for the scholarships, finally completing the endowment for the Watson scholarship.

Sandy Brown, who has been the chairwoman of the scholarship funds for as long as I remember, shared the background and purpose of the scholarships, and Cox filled the group in about AAUW’s national and global scholarship efforts.

As always seems to be the case, a number of local businesses generously supported the event, including south City Market, the Edgewater Grill at the DoubleTree Hotel, Durango Coffee Co., Durango Doughworks and the Palace Restaurant.

Shore, who is famous for her color coordination, was quite impressed by Pfau, whose beautiful winter white suit perfectly complemented Chatter’s muzzle.

I’m a big fan of AAUW, which has the very clear objective of “advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.” To learn more, visit

To join the Durango Branch, contact Burgess at

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Getting a lot of help from the spring winds to blow out their birthday candles are Verlena Collentine, Arden Peters, Ed Cash, Wayne Hose, Dennis Polsfut, Marilyn Folk, Vance Bulen, Mya Oyler, Luke Stetler, Fred Gale, Elise Murphy, Anya Howell, Riley Jaye, Sarah Law, Kayla Maycock, Alan Bohachevsky, Mallory Bird, Marcia Heidenreich, Denise Simonsen, Jessica Cox, Bella Kidd, John Lavengood, Larry House and Anne Hani.

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Here’s wishing my readers a happy Easter and blessed Passover.

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Daffodils are blooming for the anniversaries of Mike and Paula Kirchner and Tom and Elaine Hartnett.

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For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.

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