A lifeline at a time of need for EW’s Stephen Paczkowski
By Andy Kriege, YSN
Stephen Paczkowski is a sales and product manager at Expert Warehouse, AVB’s electronics distribution arm, where he has worked for 12 years.
Besides his love of tech, Paczkowski is also passionate about dogs— so much so that he and his wife Sonia have been volunteering at a dog rescue organization for the past decade. Called Rescue Haven, the mission of the New Jersey nonprofit is to save unwanted dogs from being euthanized and to give them a chance at a new life. The organization attempts to find “forever homes” for unwanted animals and will also temporarily place them in foster homes pending a formal adoption.
In 2020 the shelter took in a five-year-old mixed breed (American Staffordshire terrier/boxer) that had been abandoned due to health issues that included an extreme food allergy. He suffered severe skin maladies if fed regular proteins like beef, chicken, turkey, lamb and pork. He also rolled around so much the shelter named him Rolly.
Meanwhile, Paczkowski was experiencing some real-life challenges of his own during that pandemic spring. He was diagnosed with throat cancer and was undergoing radiation treatments. On top of that he had recently lost two family pets within a year. “We took this dog in as a foster as we had lost two Boston terriers and our house was too quiet,” Paczkowski said. “Once we got him home and got used to his power and size, we knew we would be ours forever.”
In quick succession, Rolly was adopted, renamed Rolando Glissando Pepo Paczkowski, and given a forever home with Steve and Sonia.
The pooch seemed to sense exactly what Paczkowski needed during this stressful time. “His quiet grace and a penchant for sitting on my lap when I felt at my worst during cancer treatment sealed the deal,” he said. “This dog knew what I needed when I needed it, and without prompting came to me when I was at my worst and just plopped down on my lap.”
Paczkowski has now been cancer free for two years and says the support he got from Rolando was a big part of how he was able to cope throughout the ordeal. “Dogs are amazing and can often sense and help where humans simply cannot,” he said.
Rolando is full of love and energy and spreads both wherever he goes. “He is well known in our neighborhood,” Paczkowski said. “In fact, more people know his name than mine!” To garner even greater attention, Rolando struts his stuff when taken on walks. “He adopts a ridiculous haughty thoroughbred trot when he sees other dogs around town,” he said.
Rolando has since become a part of Paczkowski’s workday routine, bringing a sense of calm and joy to what is often a hectic itinerary now that he works exclusively from home. “He is on every video call I have,” Paczkowski said. “You will notice the white blur behind me is Mr. Rolando. He makes his presence known whenever things get loud. He is even known to chime in with his own response if things get too animated.”
Paczkowski implores others to consider adopting a shelter dog, especially now that the number of available “COVID pets” has exploded following their owners’ return to the workplace.
“If you are able, begin by fostering a dog to see if you have the ability to care for one,” Paczkowski said. “There are many shelter/rescue dogs of all ages and sizes who need assistance who are waiting for you to do so.
“Dogs bring out the best in all of us,” Paczkowski added. “Fostering dogs has changed my life and how I see the world. I honestly do not know where I would be without Rolando in my life.”
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BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.