Sundance staff and volunteers get some puppy love | ParkRecord.com

Sundance staff and volunteers get some puppy love

Program instigated by Nuzzles & CO.

There's nothing like cuddling and playing with a puppy.

Not only are they cute, but they also can reduce stress.

According to various scientific studies, humans' levels of oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone, increases when they spend time with man's best friend.

Nuzzles & CO., a nonprofit, no-kill pet rescue and adoption organization, took those studies to heart and offered a puppy lounge for Sundance Film Festival staff and volunteers on Wednesday.

The event ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Miner's Hospital, and by 12:30 p.m., more than 50 people had shown up to play and pet a batch of black lab pups that were rescued in Utah, said Beth Lopez, marketing director for Nuzzles & CO.

"People have told us that this has been the best part of their day and that this is the best thing that has happened," Lopez told The Park Record.

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The particular batch of puppies that appeared at the puppy lounge were rescued from a Native American reservation.

"We've partnered with Ute and Navajo reservations because they don't have much animal control on site," Lopez said.

Nuzzles & CO. visit the reservations regularly and especially work with dogs and cats that are vulnerable, sick or pregnant.

The animals are taken to the Nuzzles & CO. rehabilitation ranch in Browns Canyon and nursed back to health, before they are put up for adoption.

In the meantime, Nuzzles & CO. introduce the animals to the public through programs like the puppy lounge.

"We did this last year at Sundance Film Festival Headquarters at the Park City Marriott," Lopez said. "Since the staff and volunteers are all stressed and tired of working at the festival, we thought we should be do something that will be a highlight of their week."

Last year, the Sundance staff didn't know there was going to be a puppy lounge, said Tina Graham, associate director of Sundance Film Festival operations.

"We were all told to come into our office without telling us what we were needed for," Graham said. "We walked in and I think everyone started crying because we were so happy to see these puppies. We really needed some puppy love."

This year, Nuzzles & CO. decided to announce the puppy lounge with an email blast.

"We wanted to give them something to look forward to, and people have been pouring in and asking, 'Where are the puppies?'" Lopez said. "Everyone is pleased with the result because this also gets those animals healthy and adopted."

The idea stemmed from a kitten-snuggle lounge Nuzzles & CO. presented during the Live PC, Give PC fundraier last November.

"We knew this was something we needed to do to spread a little joy in a weary world," Lopez said.

Nuzzles & CO. Board President Kathleen Toth said it is important for the nonprofit to give back to other organizations that benefit the Park City community..

"First of all Sundance is the biggest event we have here," she said. "It has some of the hardest working volunteers and staff members, and they are giving it their all so people who come to the film festival have a wonderful time.

"We know how joyful being around animals are and what a big stress relief they are," Toth said. "No matter what's going on in the world, whether it's the film festival or politics, spending some time with an animal — especially a cute little puppy or a purring kitten — takes away all the stress."

Graham concurred.

"Just look at them," she said while holding two pups. "They calm us down. They are full of love."

Lopez said there were five puppies in each batch that arrived at Miners Hospital.

"We are doing this in two-hour spurts because the puppies are super playful for the first hour and then they get tired," she said. "They're darling when they are sleeping, too, but we want to give people puppies to play with."

The biggest concern was the pups' bathroom habits. So Nuzzles & CO. laid down some absorbent pads throughout the petting area.

"They are a little more challenging because they don't use litter boxes," Lopez said with a laugh. "So, we have been cycling through the pads."

For information about Nuzzles & CO., visit http://www.nuzzlesandco.org.

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