It started with the worst break-up of my life.

Not with my ex, mind you. But in our parting of ways it was decided she’d get the dog, our spunky little shih tzu I’d taken care of for the better part of two years. It wasn’t long before serious withdrawal settled in. I’m an animal lover at heart and, aside from college, had never not owned a pet. Coming home to an empty apartment every day was a realization that took some time to settle in. Still, I’d resolved that I wasn’t ready for another dog so quickly. My mom knew better.

She called me at work not long after she’d made a discovery, “I found a shih tzu / lhasa apso mix online. His name is Orlando and he’s blind.” I’m a pushover. It wasn’t two days from her call that I found myself on the foster’s ranch, a beautifully secluded establishment that’s home to all manners of dogs, cats, horses, chickens. Juelle was a foster caretaker for an organization called Secondhand Hounds, a strictly no-kill animal shelter that rescues animals and places them in foster care before they can find a permanent home proper.

In the chaos of five or so Secondhanders scampering about, my Lando still wasn’t hard to spot. Weaving through the legs of dogs taller than he, bumping into deck furniture on his way to enjoying a water dish, he had me from the first moment I saw him. I knew I was taking him home.

In a little over a year, this roly-poly bundle has brought a wealth of joy into my life. He’s been a pal, a source of inspiration, a pillow, and a chick-magnet when I take him for walks in the park. Lando wasn’t born with his disposition, he had the blind beaten into him by a previous owner crueler than I care to imagine. But he doesn’t let it affect him. Sure he bumps into furniture and misses the occasional stair, but it’s all part what makes him him. It took one day for my guy to learn his way around his new home, and every time he turns around a corner or ducks under a chair I’m fascinated at how well he knows his surroundings. He’s the Matt Murdock of mixed-breed dogs.

The fabulous Mr. Lando.

Lando’s just one of many success stories. I even strong-armed my parents into each adopting a Hound of their own. I’ve been so grateful to Secondhand and their existence that I now volunteer there in my spare time. In the past year I’ve had the opportunity to meet some truly special pups, and I can’t tell you the joy it brings seeing these guys go to good homes. These are the discarded, the ones people gave up on, abandoned, abused, often malnourished or suffering some sort of affliction. No matter, the organization gives the animals everything they need in terms of medical care, food and affection on their way to placing them in a loving home.

Which brings us to one week from today.

I’ve been blessed with a kickass forum here at CHUD, and on Give to the Max Day next Thursday I’d like to use that forum for something special. That’s why, in the course of a single day, I’ve decided to lay it all on the line for a good cause. What depths am I sinking?

I will be watching every single Twilight movie back to back. To back. To back.

Indeed, next Thursday November 15th will see me at Theatres of Mall of America to sit through the entirety of Stephanie Meyer’s epic tome (brave souls buy your tickets here). If you happened to catch my review of Breaking Dawn – Part One last year, you know the great disservice I’m doing to my own mental and physical well-being in this endeavor.

But it means that much to me and it’s a cause I’m that passionate about. In the wake of Sandy, I know there will be some asking why I’m not representing that cause at the event. But, as Secondhand’s given so much to me in the past year, there was really no question. Still, I’d like to link to the Red Cross if readers care to make a donation to that cause as well.

I’m not asking for much, my goal is $500 dollars – a cool $100 for each movie I have to sit through. I’ll be live blogging on the day of the event (leading into my review of Part 2 immediately after the event), so hopefully you will enjoy a laugh or two on my behalf. I sincerely hope you can make a contribution, big or small, to this little shindig I’m partaking in.

From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the organization I’m representing, your donation really does mean the world. And, of course, I know Lando appreciates it too…

Help me reach my goal!

Online fundraising for Tim Gets Twilit For Secondhand Hounds