We have our first official Mascot of Smiles, and his name is Charlie!
It all began on a fateful day around two years ago at the Dog Cafe in Los Angeles, when a lovely couple encountered a sweet, mellow, and very happy dog. It was Charlie’s smile and wonderful demeanor that first caught their attention. They signed up to foster him but quickly became his “forever home” and family.
Both of Charlie’s humans are front line workers who care for others everyday, and while Charlie proved to be skilled at alleviating stress and filling their home with joy, it became apparent that he was also capable of so much more. He proved a quick and focused learner in obedience class and passed the Canine Good Citizen test with ease. He then became an official pet therapy dog for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where he brings smiles and cuddles to its pediatric patients.
Charlie radiates a contagious kind of joy through his days. Diana Phan and her husband, who entered Charlie’s photo into the AfS Pet Project, say of him, “Charlie makes us smile in so many ways. The pure joy on his face when we come home, when he sees food, when he goes out for walks, when he is at the beach, or even when we are just sitting around has made us smile and enjoy each moment. Each day is full of things to be joyful about, especially the simple things.”
Diana learned about AfS years ago, when she volunteered on a mission in Weining, China.
In Diana’s words:
“It was such an incredible experience. I have been on other missions as well, but AfS made this trip so special and memorable for me. The highlight of my trip was the people I met – truly selfless, loving, and encouraging personalities who have inspired me ever since. I support AfS’s cause and mission and am excited to spread the word as best I can. The Pet Project was an amazing opportunity to do just that with people in my social circle.”
We’re so grateful that Diana volunteered with AfS to help bring smiles to the faces of children with cleft, and that Charlie helped do the same by getting over 3,000 votes! Diana and her husband suspect that it was his adorable smile in that winning photo, as he is posing next to a Starbucks “Puppucino” that he looks very excited about. Well, Charlie’s smile and zest for joy has us all grinning too.
“He has taught us how to slow down and enjoy our surroundings,” the couple said. “He enjoys walks so much that we have to take him out multiple times a day, and because of that we’ve learned so much about our neighborhood and neighbors. He has taught us how to appreciate the nature and people around us. Most importantly, he reminds us daily about how much smiles can impact lives.”
We think that makes him a pretty perfect Mascot of Smiles. If you’re as inspired as we are by Charlie and want to keep up with him, you can follow him on Instagram here: @charlie_thegoodboi