Dog Lady Finds Her Calling

PAYSON PEOPLE

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Her name is Ann Campbell, but you can just call her the Dog Lady.

"I've been a bag lady when I worked at Safeway," she said laughing. "My real title is supervisor of dogs, but I'd rather be known as the Dog Lady."

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Ann Campbell

Whatever you call her, Campbell is in charge of the 60-some dogs housed at the Payson Humane Society. She does the routine stuff like feeding them, cleaning their cages, and giving them medications when they're not feeling well, but she also makes it a point to get to know each and every one.

"Each dog has a different personality," she said. "You can see them happy. You can see them loving.

"I watch them here and I swear they're having conversations. I hear them barking when people come and I believe they're saying, ‘We're here. We want a home. Please take us home.'"

And that's just what Campbell thinks you should do.

"There's only one dog here legally and he is quarantined," she said. "All the others -- it's not their fault that they're here, and that's what breaks my heart.

"I know there's a lot of animal lovers in Payson, but there's also a lot of people who just don't care. I like to see happy endings with these animals."

The Dog Lady practices what she preaches. She has taken 16 dogs and five cats into her home, most of whom were unadoptable for any number of reasons.

"It all started when this dog was brought into the shelter by his owner," she said. "He had been pushed, kicked, pulled, yelled at -- everything -- and this poor dog was just absolutely petrified.

"We had him for a few months and tried working with him, but he wouldn't let anybody come near him. I took him home, and he was so scared we literally had to carry him out of here.

"He wouldn't even come in the house, but as he saw my other four dogs come to me he gradually started coming into the house. Now he's a different dog altogether."

Campbell's menagerie has grown to include a deaf dog, a blind dog, and dogs with a host of maladies, both physical and mental.

"It's amazing how dogs with infirmities cope," Campbell said. "The deaf dog is so alert with her eyes; the blind dog: her nose just sniffs everything out. It's amazing."

The Dog Lady's love affair with dogs began in Europe. Her family is from Denmark, but they got stuck in England during World War II and ended up staying for 30 years.

"When I was 11 years old and living in England, I went to Denmark to visit my grandmother, Campbell said. "She lived in a big apartment building that had a fur shop on the ground floor.

"My grandmother was good friends with the owner, and I would go down and watch her make the fur coats and the capes. She had these stuffed animals and there was a little stuffed dog that I absolutely fell in love with.

"I wrote to my parents saying I was going to bring a dog back to England. They wrote back to my grandmother and said she just can't do that because they had bought a puppy for me, so we had to let them know that it was only a stuffed animal.

"I didn't know there was a puppy waiting for me, and I walked in and this furball just comes running towards me -- an all-black miniature poodle. I named him Sooty and that was my first dog."

Campbell eventually married an American and moved to the United States.

She was living in Michigan in 1991 when she decided to move to Payson, sight unseen.

"It was kind of like sticking a pin in a map," she said. "I wanted to go someplace where the weather was reasonably warm and (there were) not too many people.

Payson was her first small-town experience and there were times when she wondered if she had made the right choice.

"When I first came to Payson, I had a kind of a love-hate relationship," she said. "I'd never lived in a small town before and it's really different.

"But now if I go to Phoenix, I don't enjoy that. I don't like the crowds. I don't like the heavy traffic.

"I really like Payson. I like the idea of being able to go north and you're in the mountains and south and you're in the desert."

Of course, home for Campbell will always be where the dogs are.

"I can't believe how much of a dog lover I am," she said. "I can't explain it. It just feels like I finally found what I'm supposed to be doing in life."

Her dream is to one day open a no-kill shelter in Payson like the renowned Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where lame, sick, abused or otherwise disabled animals have a home for life.

"I would willingly run it for nothing," she said.

In the meantime, her message is simple: "Get a dog."

When you visit the shelter, which is located at 812 S. McLane Road, ask for Campbell. She'll help you find the dog best suited for your situation and personality.

"My dogs give me a lot of satisfaction," Campbell said. "They give me the love that I need that I haven't been able to find in people, and that, in turn, helps me in giving out unconditional love.

"It's true that dogs are man's best friend.

"There's a reason why God put dogs on this earth."

Profile

Name: Ann Campbell

Occupation: Dog Lady

Employer: Payson Humane Society

Age: 29-plus.

Birthplace: Richmond, Surrey, England

Family: 16 dogs, 5 cats, and a son (32) who got married a couple of years ago to a really wonderful girl who has daughters, so I became an instant grandmother. Then a week ago today (Friday), I became "Grandmother." My son had his first child.

Personal Motto: "To thine own self be true."

Inspiration: God.

Greatest feat: My obstinacy in wanting to continue rescuing these animals.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Growing house plants.

Three words that describe me best: Outspoken, honest (as I can possibly be), self-confident.

I don't want to brag, but: I do my job well.

Person in history I'd most like to meet: Lassie (and be able to talk to him).

Luxury defined: Sitting down after work in my La-Z-Boy chair, with a dog at my side, a strong cup of coffee in my hand, turning on the TV and saying, "Brain, quit!"

Dream vacation spot: I would love to go to Australia.

Why Payson? I believe it's a God thing.

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