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A life defined by dogs

Some people define the stages of their lives by music; others use news events, and still, others can look in their closets for fashion choices to mark specific phases. Mary Ann Bonnell, a long-time Dumb Friends League supporter, defines her life chapters by the dogs that were by her side.

Growing up, Buttons, a baying beagle, was Mary Ann’s faithful companion while the duo staked out monsters beneath her bed and conquered her fears. Indiana Jones, a terrier mix, was Mary Ann’s study buddy while she prepared for the SAT exam and was a welcome visitor throughout college. Nicki, a stoic yaller dog, watched as Mary Ann planted her first garden in her first townhome, got married, and then lived long enough to see her through a devastating divorce. Over the past 14 years, Chelsea, a Boston/Boxer mix, has been Mary’s Ann rock. “Much like Buttons did when I was a kid, Chelsea was my silly security detail,” said Mary Ann. She checked every culvert, sniffed every coyote track, tracked every raven and blustered at every raccoon.”

Sadly, Mary Ann said good-bye to Chelsea this past March. “Chelsea had a long and beautiful life of 15+ years,” said Mary Ann. “I told her before she passed that my father was waiting up in heaven — treats in his pockets — to take her for a walk. When the League re-opens their doors to adoptions, I will be there to connect with my new life companion.”

Mary Ann began supporting the League 14 years ago. “After adopting my best canine buddy, Chelsea, it was clear to me that the League was doing essential work rescuing both pets and people,” said Mary Ann. “I support in real-time, as well as through legacy giving because I believe in the mission and impact the League has now and will have in the future.”

Mary Ann has a passion for all things art and science and loves to create, draw, sew and build. Her creativity knows no bounds as a book illustrator and an artist of whimsical, larger than life soft sculptures of animals and plants for museums and aquaria. With a love of plants, birds, rocks, fossils and animals, it’s no wonder Mary Ann became a park ranger after teaching marine biology for three years on Catalina Island after college. “I became a park ranger because I love connecting people to nature,” said Mary Ann. “After being the first responder for a mountain lion attack, I focused my work on human-wildlife conflict. .” (Mary Ann is currently the visitor services manager for Jefferson County Colorado Open Space and contributed to the Keep your pup safe while hitting the trails)

“Were it not for Chelsea, and all the dogs like her that bring purpose, love, companionship and silliness to our lives, there would be a lot more sadness, loneliness and emptiness,” said Mary Ann. “Were it not for the League, many dogs like Chelsea would not find compassion, care and connection with people who need them. I am grateful for the work the League does in the community.”

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