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Ri Local Hero PARTY ON! CANINE CELEBRATION COMBINES FUN AND FUNDS ‘New York City resident Erika Friedman has a boyfriend, a day job, and takes Pilates classes several times each week—which would keep most peoole pretty busy. But Friedman has also found the time to launch a “pet project” called Canine Celebrations, an animal party-planning service to raise funds for local animal welfare groups. ‘The money she generates from each Canine Celebration event is donated to local organizations ‘and shelters. A recent Valentine's Day wedding benefited Mighty Mutts & Olle's Place, an all- volunteer, no-kill shelter. Last October, a well-attencied Hound-o-Ween party raised funds for Resouzilla, a {group that rescues and rehabiltates Pit Bulls ard other “bully” breeds. Friedman says she seeks out organizations that aren't very well known. She aims to help not only the ‘animals, but also the volunteers. “These people are in the trenches,” she says. “They have no money for publicity or PR.” Each Canine Celebration event is held in a family- friendly venue, Petco has hosted several, over sino ‘the chain's regional managor wandered in to one of Friedman's events. And, ike others at the party, he loved the idea. “Ym taking itto a level where people can relate, People love parties, love raffles, love prizes,” says. Friedman, For the past seven years, Friedman has worked at private equity firm. in that time she also became a ‘certified dog trainer 80 she could find a way to work. with animals. But, training was utimately unfulfting, she says. The dogs were great, but the humans often neglected their homework, which hindered the dogs? progress. So Fridman put her social skills to work for the animals instead. She doesn’t eam any money through Canine Celebrations. “1 wouldn't want to be pald,” she claims. “'m paid back by being able to hand over cash to help cover vet bills and purchase blankets and toys for the pets in the shelters. And, yes, at the end of the day, “’m just wiped out...but I'm on cloud nine.” —Lorf Barrett