Miss A Columnist

Crystal Zhao is larger-than-life. She has lived in three countries and three states, but easily considers herself a Texan at heart. A former Austin contributor, Crystal graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (hook ‘em!) with degrees in Government and Communication Studies and a minor in Rhetoric & Writing. She is learning to be a Washingtonian with her fellow Texans in D.C. and as a new addition to the Junior League of Washington. Crystal currently works on Capitol Hill.

In addition to pursuing a life of public policy, Crystal also makes sure to set aside time to do what she loves - exploring and sharing. She’s always after something new in the blogosphere, local food and drink, and fitness activities. Believing that each moment in life has a unique lesson to teach, Crystal loves pursuing new experiences and getting to know people from all walks of life. She loves writing so that she can share knowledge with and encourage others to pursue more opportunities to learn as well. Her favorite way of life is, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever.”

Recap: Happy Hour Benefit At House Wine For Hard Luck Hounds

Casually posh wine bar. Beautifully rare music. Overwhelmingly adorable canines.

Photo Credit: Camille Akin

The three phrases above help describe one perfectly fabulous way to spend a lazy Saturday (or to recover from a busy one) at House Wine cuddled up with a cute, furry companion.

On Saturday, September 15, Hard Luck Hounds hosted a happy hour benefit raise funds and bring awareness to the many irresistible puppies still looking for a home. Hard Luck Hounds is a last-chance adoption program of Friends of Austin Animal Center that helps dogs who have overstayed shelters find a happy home. Stephanie Lermer, who contributed tremendously in putting on the event, chose House Wine to be the venue for the benefit because “The very essence of House Wine resonates the Austin culture — unassuming, relaxed, homey. I couldn’t think of a better venue and organization to partner if I had to.” In addition, there were amazing music, delicious drinks and scrumptious food, and awesome raffle items.

Photo Credit: Camille Akin

“[The benefit] was fun and life-affirming. At least four Hard Luck Hounds alumni were in attendance with their adoring, responsible humans,” said Chantelle Wallace, who assisted in the event planning by recruiting musical performers Juliette Buck and Ken Linsk. Chantelle first got involved with Hard Luck Hounds in September 2011 when David Pasztor, the program’s founder, introduced it to her after she had been volunteering at a shelter for four years. “It’s easy to find motivation to save such sweet creatures,” she says.

One of the Hard Luck Hounds alumni dogs that Chantelle mentioned is Valentine. According to an Austin Post article, Valentine had suffered from a malformed pelvis and a leg that repeatedly popped out due to having been chained by her former owner for so long. Thank goodness, however, 17-year-old Camille Akin soon helped her find a home with a loving owner.

Photo Credit: Camille Akin

Stephanie, who was mentioned earlier, shared the same sympathy as Chantelle and Camille. She worked her marketing and public relations skills to bring more publicity to the event and more awareness to the mission of Hard Luck Hounds. “[The] key factor was feeling the need to spread awareness about the true meaning of ‘no-kill’,” she said. In fact, Stephanie informed me that the term “no-kill” really means that legally, ten percent or less of the animals are euthanized – not zero percent like many would assume.

And the happy hour benefit really did its job of spreading awareness – especially regarding the fact that if it weren’t for David Pasztor and his Hard Luck Hounds initiative, these dogs would have all been put down. “All in all, the first event took about ten days to plan and was bigger than we could have ever hoped,” Stephanie said proudly.

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