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Joyce Endee

This bridal shower went to the dogs (and cats)

Brynne Johnstone and Andrew Salmon pose with their new kitty, Felix, whom they adopted when Brynne dropped off gifts from her bridal shower for the N.H. Humane Society. She and her fiance decided it was better to give than to receive and opted to have shower gifts donated to NHHS rather than for themselves. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
December 16, 2009
TILTON — When Brynne Johnstone got engaged she had a special request. Instead of the typical bridal shower, she wanted gifts for the New Hampshire Humane Society, not for herself.

"It's an even better feeling to be helping someone than receiving things for yourself," Johnstone said.

She and finance Andrew Salmon are both employed at the Tilton Police Department where he is a police officer and she serves as Communications Specialist for the department. They had just built their own home and didn't feel they needed any gifts. Both are animal lovers and since she once volunteered at NHHS, it has become the charity of choice for the couple. So, rather than bridal gifts, guests were asked to bring a donation for the shelter in Laconia.

"My mom did the invitations. She got the Wish List for the Humane Society off their Web site and included it with the invitations," said Johnstone.

On Nov. 28 nearly 50 people attended her shower. They came laden with dog and cat beds, food, cleaning supplies and other items always needed and appreciated by NHHS animals and staff.

"It was great to see how much they brought for them," she said.

Johnstone has adopted many animals from the Humane Society and given them a loving home over the years. She and her fiance currently have a German Shepard puppy named Max, along with cats Lindsay, Peanut and Skye. On Dec. 5, when she presented NHHS public relations director Marylee Gorham and the staff with her shower gifts, she also took home a new kitten they named Felix.

Gorham was delighted with the many useful items given by the guests at Johnstone's shower.

"Brynne was a volunteer here for a couple of years when she was a teen. It's nice to see people continue that connection with us," she said.

NHHS encourages people to get involved with the no-kill animal facility. In 2009 over 1,900 pets were re-homed through the shelter, and that means a lot of food, bedding, kitty litter and cleaning supplies are always in need. The selfless donations from Johnstone's bridal shower will help in keeping animals housed there healthy, happy and well-fed until they find a new "forever home."

"We're all about thanking people for caring about animals. We genuinely appreciate the fact that they did," said Gorham.

As for Johnstone, she was glad her shower could benefit the animals. She posted photos from the day on Facebook and has received many comments from others who liked the idea so much they are considering the same idea for their own upcoming family celebrations.

"As adults we don't always have a need for gifts. It's nice to see even children giving up birthday gifts for the animals. I hope that when we have kids we can do that, too, and I'm glad others are considering it now. It's exciting," Johnstone said.

The giving won't stop with her bridal shower. On April 17 she and Salmon will be married and the attendants for their wedding will have donations to NHHS made in their names.

"Rather than wedding favors we thought it would be nice to make donations to honor our attendants," she said.

Anyone who would like to make their own contribution to the N.H. Humane Society can visit their Web site, www.nhhumane.org to see their wish list. Cash donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 572, Laconia, N.H. 03246.

The shelter is located at 1305 Meredith Center Road in Laconia and serves towns throughout Central New Hampshire.

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