Digging Up the Future

Humane Society of Huron Valley gets ready for groundbreaking
Entrance to the current Humane Society of Huron Valley on Cherry Hill Road.

Entrance to the current Humane Society of Huron Valley on Cherry Hill Road.

A buried chewtoy, some chicken broth and a friendly pit bull named May are ready to play a key role in Tuesday’s long-awaited groundbreaking for the Humane Society of Huron Valley‘s new $8.6 million facility.

Seeking a behind-the-scenes peek at preparations for the event, The Chronicle dropped by HSHV on Monday afternoon and found staff there holding tryouts for the honor of digging the ceremonial hole – a task normally reserved for muckety-mucks with golden shovels.

The idea was to have one of the shelter’s dogs take the spotlight, but apparently not just any pup has the skill set necessary for the job. Some are just too dainty, The Chronicle was told. They paw too lightly at the dirt or don’t understand that digging is required at all. May, however, was totally enthused. This mottled brown pit bull was tearing into the dirt as though, well, as though there were a rawhide toy buried there – as, indeed, there was.

May digs for buried treasure in a rehearsal for Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony.

May digs for buried treasure in a rehearsal for Tuesday morning's groundbreaking ceremony.

As added incentive, HSHV staff had a can of chicken broth at the ready, occasionally sprinkling the ground where they hoped May would dig. She eagerly obliged.

Work is already well under way on the new five-acre site, where land owned by the University of Michigan is being cleared. Formerly part of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens adjacent to Cherry Hill Road, the spot will be leased by HSHV for 65 years under terms of a deal reached earlier this year. The Matthaei family also gave the shelter its current land, and had indicated a desire for the university to provide additional land should HSHV need to expand. Fred Matthaei, who helped plant some of the trees in that area decades ago, is expected to attend Tuesday’s ceremony.

HSHV still needs to raise over $1 million dollars toward the $8.6 million it needs for the facility, says executive director Tanya Hilgendorf. But, she noted as she walked past a row of barking dogs on Monday, the mission “speaks for itself.”

Site work has begun on the new Humane Society of Huron Valley facility.

Site work has begun for the new Humane Society of Huron Valley facility on Cherry Hill Road. The old building is visible in the background.

One Comment

  1. September 23, 2008 at 3:44 pm | permalink

    The Botanical Gardens has a blog -


    with some news and nice old photos from time to time.