Annette Smith received a call one day that a dog was available for rescue.
That was just the beginning of a long relationship. That dog, Jin Jin, would go on to not just be a welcome part of Smith’s family, but also of the nonprofit group Caregiver Volunteers' family.
Jin Jin, a black and tan female Afghan Hound, is a certified therapy dog visiting families, those that are sick or elderly or who just simply could stand to benefit from a visit with a cuddly dog.
Smith and Jin Jin regularly visit with clients of the Caregiver Canine program, but this month Jin Jin is going beyond warming hearts as a certified therapy dog. She’s one of several finalists in a contest called New Yorkie Runway.
Afghan hounds, with their shaggy manes and graceful necks and legs, make for a distinct breed of dog, but Smith said it was the initial meeting with Jin Jin that she knew they would make a great pair.
In her contest video, Smith said she was working with Afghan Hound Rescue and received a call to be the foster parent of Jin Jin.
“She turned around and looked at me and I knew from that moment on that I was going to be her mom,” said Smith, a Toms River resident.
is a program run through The program matches therapy dogs with homebound senior citizens for a friendly visit. The aim, according to the Caregiver Volunteers, is to bring “smiles and unconditional love to our seniors, and rewards unmatched to the volunteer handlers and their friendly canine.”
Jin Jin visits with two different elderly folks each month.
These days, she’s also part of a contest to benefit Angel On a Leash, a foundation that helps train therapy dogs to go into hospitals and institutions to bring smiles to those in need.
Jin Jin has the chance to be a part of The New Yorkie Fashion Show, a fashion show and fundraiser set amid the excitement of NYC Fashion Week and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
On Jan. 7, Jin Jin and Jennings strutted their stuff before judges, but it’s a combination of judges and public votes which will determine the winners.
To vote in the contest, go to http://www.newyorkierunway.com/vote/ before midnight Feb. 3.
The contest videos for each of the doggies are displayed, with the online poll toward the bottom of the page.
Though many entered, Jin Jin is one of 10 finalists. She's competing against a variety of breeds decked out in some traditional and costume doggy fashions.
Jin Jin, who was judged in a sparkly dress, has also sported some race car costume fashions in her previous doggy fashion show experience. And if she wins, she’s on to the big time: The New Yorkie Runway.