Meal program to cater to pets
Critters can get food delivered, too
Daisie makes her presence known to people approaching the Tulsa home of Norman and Eula Mae Nunley.
The Shih Tzu fiercely protects her owners, a homebound couple who will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary next month.
Daisie barks when someone touches her owners, and she doesn't like other dogs. She also has been known to nip food from the dining table and loves having her belly rubbed.
"I've had a dog since I was born, and we just love having one," Norman Nunley said. "She's a nice dog. Without that dog, we'd be lost."
But the Nunleys can't get to the store to buy dog food very often, and their veterinarian has warned them against feeding Daisie their food.
A caregiver prepares most of the meals for the Nunleys and their pet.
On a whim, Norman Nunley decided to try a new pet-food delivery program through Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa.
The pilot program, called Meals 4Paw Stars, will begin in August.
3 Volunteers will visit eligible Meals on Wheels clients who have pets and provide enough pet food to last until the next delivery.
Volunteers will make deliveries on the third Saturday of each month, which is different from Meals on Wheels' services for human clients.
For the Nunleys, the extra guests are welcome because they appreciate the company. The couple enjoy talking about their son, their three grandchildren and, of course, Daisie.
"We like to see more people come around, and financially it (the pet food) would help us," Norman Nunley said.
Kimberlie Baab, 16, a member of the Tulsa County 4-H Paw Stars Club, approached Meals on Wheels about creating the program. She wanted to find a way to complete community service by working with pets.
4-H Paw Stars Club members will make up the core of the volunteers and will help find pet food donations. About 15 volunteers have signed up.
"It's great to see the community come together to help provide for people in need," Baab said. "I'm excited that we can offer this to the Meals on Wheels clients. I hope we can spread this throughout Tulsa."
Most Meals on Wheels clients struggle financially, Executive Director Dan Rabovsky said.
"We were concerned that a number of our recipients would give part of their home-delivered meal to their pets because they could not afford (pet) food," he said.
In that instance, "they are not getting the full benefit of their meal, and it is probably not good for their pet. We are happy and excited to be part of a program to help with that situation."
The pilot project will last six months; then the organization will review the program's impact and sustainability.
The program has enrolled 36 clients who have a total of 26 dogs, 35 cats, five birds, two turtles and several fish.
"You don't have to be homebound to have a pet be important in your life," Rabovsky said. "People who live alone with not a lot of outside visitors can feel isolated. This pet is very important to them.
"Some give the person a reason to get up each day and move around."
To donate pet food or to volunteer for Meals 4Paw Stars, call Meals on Wheels at 627-4103.