A new nonprofit organization in Northwest Arkansas focuses on how animals and nature facilitate healing in the human spirit.
The Solgave Project is based in Fayetteville and will feature four initiatives per year with the first being The Yellow Dog Project. The initiatives will be a vehicle to provide objective-based, action-oriented phases that demonstrates the overall Solgave mission.
The Yellow Dog Project is a global program that teaches about “dogs that need space.” The purpose is two-fold in that it teaches dog owners who own a dog that needs a little extra space in public to utilize the tell-tale yellow ribbon on the dog’s collar or leash. The second purpose is to educate the public about what the yellow project means. The Yellow Dog Project promotes safe and appropriate interactions between people and dogs of all personality types and backgrounds.
How Solgave began
The Solgave Project was founded by Jared and Sunniva Ritter when they were living in Sweden two years ago (Sunniva is Norwegian). Now living in Fayetteville, the Ritters founded and operate Solgave Animal Solutions, which is the for-profit arm of their Solgave brand. They offer services including pet sitting, dog walking, in-home boarding and seminars about socialization and behavior modification. They also offer a free, public Community Pack Walk at a different location in Northwest Arkansas each month.
Solgave is an overall brand that began in Europe and was brought to the United States about a year ago. The Ritters created the brand and Solgave means “gift from the sun” in Norwegian.
“Solgave is a project that is rooted in the development of self, the fostering of creative ideas, and the healing elements of animals and nature,” according to the Solgave website.
Solgave features six basic pillars: nature, animals, balance, healing, education and children. The first four are addressed in the Solgave Animal Solutions business and the last two through The Solgave Project. A third arm is the nonprofit Solgave Second Chance Project, which the Ritters started in Fayetteville but realized it was not the best situation for their family. Their employee in the Ridgecrest, Calif. branch of Solgave Animal Solutions took over the Second Chance project, which works closely with dogs that have severe behavior or anxiety issues that need to be addressed before it can be rehomed.
“They all weave together really well,” Jared said of each piece under the Solgave umbrella.
Through education, training and compassion, the Ritters hope to demonstrate how humans and nature, including dogs, were created to work together to create balance in everyday life. The mission of all the Solgave branches is to help humans better understand animals, but more importantly better understand their own humanity.
“We don’t feel successful unless we leave people with a better understanding of themselves,” Jared said.
Educating Northwest Arkansas and beyond
In May, they re-launched The Solgave Project and already have demonstrations scheduled about The Yellow Dog Project including a recent showing at the Block St. Party in Fayetteville. They also hope to schedule demonstrations at other family-oriented events and are available to offer sessions in schools, daycares and clubs that cater to children and families. They also discuss the importance of The Yellow Dog Project at their Community Pack Walks and utilize volunteers to spread fliers and general awareness of the issue.
“We’re able to advocate for a movement that can bring awareness,” Jared said.
The Ritters agree that many problematic interactions between humans and pets can be avoided when children (and adults) are taught how to interact with animals both in the home and in public.
“Many do it the wrong way,” Sunniva said. “We had a dog sporting a yellow ribbon on our first pack walk but discovered no one knew what it meant–which defeats the purpose.”
The Ritters chose The Yellow Dog Project as their first initiative because it can have an impact on every single person in Northwest Arkansas and they’ve also seen many dogs who qualify as “DINOS” (Dog in Need of Space) in the region. A dog that needs space could include an elderly or sick pet, one that is in the early stages of socialization, a dog that is new to the family and the humans aren’t sure how well it will handle crowds, etc.
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