Today's Personality Prints interviewee is Ashley Frohnert. When we met for her portrait session, with her dog Howard at Phipps Conservatory, she had recently been named Sexiest Vegan, and was on her way to move to California to work for PETA as their social media strategist. I was really impressed by her involvement in the vegan community in Pittsburgh (volunteering for Voice of Animals, a Meatless Mondays project, a vegan book club etc.), and loved getting to know her a little bit better. I think you will too.
Tell me about your pets. How did they come into your life?
I had wanted a dog my entire life, but my parents didn't think I could handle the responsibility until I was 11 years old, they finally allowed me to have one. It was the best day of my life! We looked at a pet store, and then headed to a few shelters. We ended up adopting Chipper, a Beagle/Shepherd mix from Animal Friends. After adopting her and learning more about animal shelters and the pet overpopulation crisis I knew I had to continue adopting my animals and also let others know about the benefits of adoption. Chipper is now 15 and still living with my parents!
In 2012, I graduated from college and moved out on my own and decided to adopt my own dog. I adopted Jackson as a puppy from the Western PA Humane Society on the Northside. I learned that puppies take a lot of training and patience, I probably will not adopt another dog under a year old (haha).
In September of 2013 my boyfriend, Tony, and I decided Jackson might like a friend to run around with and we began looking for a second dog. We found the most beautiful, gentle and friendly Shepherd mix, who we named Fitz. Unfortunately after being with us for five months he passed away from bone cancer. We loved him very much and were so happy we were able to spend five amazing months with him. I wrote a story about him here: Life with Dogs.
About a month after Fitz passed away we decided to adopt again. I want to save as many dogs as I can during my lifetime, and Jackson loves other dogs. After a few unsuccessful meet-and-greets between Jackson and other dogs we found Howard, named Torch at the time. We took he and Jackson out in the snow and they bonded pretty quickly. We learned a little about Howard's past including the sad fact that he was abandoned. Howard was fairly skinny, and he had been in the back of the shelter for a few weeks gaining weight. He has gained about 25 lbs since we've adopted him. The shelter staff noticed a little food aggression during his behavior test so we initially did a foster-to-adopt with him so we could be sure he would fit in with Jackson and us. He has came SUCH a long way! He now lets me grab food from his mouth, goes for walks while staying calm almost 100% of the time and gets extremely excited and licks us to death when we get home. He is still not a fan of motorcycles or vacuum cleaners, but I'm so proud that he feels at home and has learned how to become a fun-loving dog.
With 6-8 million animals entering shelters every year and 3-4 million of those animals being put to sleep there is no excuse to buy animals. Shelter animals have stories to tell us, and lessons to teach us. I'm ecstatic to be working for PETA, enabling me to spread the word about how amazing animals are!
How do your pets support you and or inspire you and your business?
My dogs have helped me become vegan. I've been an animal lover my whole life, but in 2008 after learning about the cruelty that goes on in the agricultural industry I decided to stop eating meat, and later became vegan in 2013. I look at photos of cows, chickens, pigs and fish and I see the eyes of my dogs. All animals can suffer and feel pain and if I choose to share my bed with my dogs, why wouldn't I extend the same compassion to animals of another species?
Do you and your dogs (pets) share personality traits that have helped you in life/business?
My dogs are awesome! I adopted them both from area shelters, one from the Animal Rescue League and the other from the Western PA Humane Society. Howard from the ARL came into my life when our previous dog passed away at a young age from bone cancer. My dogs have taught me to be selfless, caring, patient, and calm, and I can't thank them enough. I love my dogs so much and really want other dogs to feel the love that they do, and also help other humans love animals.
Do you have a favorite quote that you live by?
I'm not sure its a quote, but I really believe I'm doing what you love, not just what can pay the bills.