For the Boston Bruins, every day is about reaching the goal of winning the Stanley Cup. The goal of assisting Boston’s homeless dog population has literally become a daily exercise for the team, as well.
The Bruins recently released its second-annual Pucks & Pups calendar to raise money and awareness for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS).
The calendar, which features Bruins players posing with their own dogs or adoptable pups provided by the MSPCA’s adoption centers, are available for $20 at Boston-area Reebok ProShops; at TD Garden, where the team plays its home games; and online.
“Dogs are just great companions,” said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who appears in the 2014 and 2015 editions of the calendar with his 11-year-old Boxer, Wiggles, and two-year-old French Bulldog Bubbles Lollipop (named by his children). “No matter what is going on, they just want to love you, and they’re great to have around to protect you. For us, the kids really appreciate our puppies and love to play with them, and it’s a lot of fun to have them around.”
All proceeds from the 2015 Pucks & Pups calendar, as well as from $30 limited-edition Boston Bruins collars and leashes, will benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation, with donations being made to the MSPCA and NEADS.
All 5,000 copies of the 2014 calendar sold out, with the overall campaign raising more than $120,000. The Bruins donated $30,000 directly to the MSPCA’s adoption services program to care for homeless animals awaiting adoption, among the most significant single fundraising events for the MSCPA this past year.
“It is very few and far between — a gift of $30,000 for the shelter fund,” said MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin. “That is a significant amount of money, which cares for a lot of animals. That’s really big for us. That pays for the medical and housing care needs for our animals at the shelters.”
Among the players who posed for the 2015 calendar were Seidenberg, as well as several of his fellow 2011 Stanley Cup championship teammates, including defenseman Zdeno Chara, wingers Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, center Patrice Bergeron, and goaltender Tuukka Rask. Other players included Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Torey Krug, and Chris Kelly. Bruins principal Charlie Jacobs, who has several rescue dogs himself, also participated. The photos used in the calendar were taken at TD Garden as well as in Boston’s landmark neighborhoods.
Check out this behind-the-scenes video from one of the shoots:
“[The players] were so great,” Halpin said. “We took the dogs down to the Garden for the shoot, and the players were so normal. They were regular guys who don’t live regular, everyday lives, and they were kind to the animals. They were engaged. They asked questions about what we do. It was pretty sweet. They really put us at ease, and they put the dogs at ease. It was a very comfortable experience.”
The benefits to the MSPCA extend beyond merely financial. Upon release of the 2014 calendar last November, its Animal Care and Adoption Centers saw an uptick in inquiries about adoptable dogs. Although the puppies featured in the 2014 calendar had already gone to their forever homes, the interest generated by their presence in the calendar led to a spike in adoptions overall.
Halpin estimated that the three MSPCA shelters house upwards of 13,000 animals per year, with roughly 30 percent being dogs.
“The Bruins have their fleet of reporters and bloggers who are covering them and their every move, so to hitch the story of homeless animals and their plight in shelters to a media machine like the Bruins press corps was incredibly valuable to us,” Halpin said. “It was that much more coverage for the MSPCA and the homeless animal shelter programs.”
“People would call us asking about a dog [in the calendar], and we’d say, ‘That dog was adopted two months ago, but come in because we have other dogs like them,'” he said. “And what happens is people come in looking for a dog that’s now gone, but they leave with a dog they fell in love with while they were here. The calendar absolutely sparked more adoptions of dogs at our shelters.”
This past June, Seidenberg toured the MPSCA-Angell Animal Care facility in Boston and presented the shelter with the check for $30,000.
“It was great. I never expected the shelter to be that nice and organized the way it was,” the Bruins defenseman said. “It was a great facility, and the dogs seemed to be loving it. It was nice to be a part of it and helping out.”
“It was just fun for our people,” Halpin said. “We had a bunch of shelter workers here, and a bunch of our doctors at the hospital came over, and Dennis was so nice and spent time with them and signed their calendars. It’s very rare that we have celebrities come and visit us. It sparked a lot of goodwill internally.”
When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Seidenberg never got a chance to take the famous trophy home, so Wiggles was denied the opportunity to drink water and eat treats out of the bowl that adorns the top of hockey’s greatest prize. All the more incentive, Seidenberg said, to bring the Cup back to Boston in 2015.
“Wiggles didn’t get to see it, but we’re trying really hard to get it back, and this time he’ll get a chance to be a part of it,” Seidenberg said.
Buy the 2015 Pucks & Pups calendar.
Meet more Dogster Heroes:
About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for MLB.com and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).