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February 2023
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Club For Animal Lovers Brings Levity and Limitless Speech Topics

By Shannon Dewey


“ManMartin Galaviz of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, attends a club meeting with his roosters.

 

Have you ever visited a club meeting where you’re greeted by cats, dogs, bunnies, and roosters? For guests and members of the PAW-TY Pet Toastmasters Club, animal sightings—and sounds—are a regular occurrence.

Not only do the 21 members of this online club share the screen with their animal companions, they also deliver speeches about them, and sometimes put their pets in the spotlight to speak (and sit, and stay, and lie down).

The idea for the club, chartered in June 2021, came about thanks to the newest family member of Club President Rose Kirland, DTM—a 3-month-old puppy named Winston, who loves hopping onto her lap during her Zoom meetings. “One evening, as I was preparing for a meeting, my 11-year-old grandson said, ‘G-ma, you should have a doggie Toastmasters club! That would be so cool to make friends from all over the world, maybe even meet a pet from Ireland.’ And so, it began,” says Kirland, of Wailuku, Hawaii.

While most members do have pets, it isn’t required to join. Animal lovers alike are welcomed to the club. Kirland noted that during the early stages of chartering, a potential member said he can’t have a pet where he lives, and that just being part of the group filled that void in his life. “What a rewarding feeling that we can help our fellow humans this way. The bonuses of being a Toastmaster!” she says.

One challenge many speakers struggle with is finding speech topics; however, members of this club rarely have an issue with that. Why? Kirland says it’s because they have funny, inspiring, teachable, and loving life stories with their pets, and are passionate about animals. Allen Brieschke, DTM, a club member from Tomah, Wisconsin, who has two service dogs, agrees.

“Inspiration can come from their everyday involvement in our lives. Their looks, their behavior, their timing. Their simple way of being around us,” says Brieschke. “I talk with my two service dogs, Benjamin and Tutmoses, all the time. The stabilizing company they provide helps in everyday living.”

The club also makes room for special meeting themes, like celebrating pets’ birthdays, anniversaries, and adoption dates. The agenda even includes a “Puurfect Points to Ponder” segment, likened to an Inspiration or Jokemaster role. Another perk of this online club? Having your best friend by your side while meeting members and guests from locations like Australia, Canada, Singapore, United States, Mexico, and more.

Toastmasters and pets … who would have thought?

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