In 2018, Henry Friedman hit the road with his brother Elias, a.k.a. The Dogist, and a Puerto Rican puppy named Finn. They were fostering the pup, rescued by The Sato Project, and on a cross-country mission to find him a home. Finn had other plans. By the time they made it to California, Henry and Finn were inseparable and @KeepingFinn was born.
The duo headed into the wild in search of adventure. #Vanlife suited these free spirits and as Henry chronicled their journey, the @KeepingFinn community grew, inspiring him to use his platform to raise awareness and funds for rescue dogs like Finn. He launched a wildly impactful Patreon mission, where 100% of the monthly contributions gets donated to animal welfare organizations around the country. Together, Finn and Henry have raised over $300,000 for animal rescue and facilitated the adoption of 100+ animals.
How did @Keepingfinn come into being?
When I left New York City, I was looking for an adventure at the end of my 20s. So I bought a van, converted the inside into a primitive home on wheels, and traveled west. What started off as an aimless experiment quickly turned into a life changing pursuit of adventure and purpose, centered around dogs and animal welfare. I think our journey reveals the power of story telling and community to drive impact/awareness to a cause. In the 4+ years we’ve lived on the road, we’ve raised over $300,000 for animal welfare organizations across the country. We’re helping dogs get adopted. We’re celebrating great work/people/orgs in the animal welfare space. And we’re able to drive community engagement to the cause through storytelling.
How do you pick which organizations to support?
Most people only know the rescue organization that their dog came from, or the one around the corner from their house. So we like to show/support/work with those organizations that are doing something unique/special/different, like organizations that work with senior dogs, or special needs dogs, etc. We also love working with “frontline” rescues. These are the organizations working in underserved communities that are literally out on the streets rescuing stray dogs, feeding dogs, and providing spay/neuter/vaccinations for those that need it. And from a story telling perspective, these kinds of organizations are particularly compelling on social media because they engage people on an emotional level — and when we do a great job of telling that story, we can compel people to support our cause and help those organizations. This is one of the reasons Instagram is such a great vehicle to drive awareness for animal welfare!
What has been your most memorable part of the journey thus far?
Fostering dogs! It can be a lot of work fostering a dog in a van but it’s an incredibly rewarding and memorable experience every time. Most of the dogs we foster came from really sad/traumatic beginnings. And then we get to love them, feed them, show them the beach, the mountains, the deserts, etc…They learn from our dogs. they grow/change/transform soooooo much in the time that we have them. Then we find them a family who will love them forever. It’s our favorite thing because it’s a reminder of why this work is so impactful. We’re not just helping dogs, we’re helping people/families as well.
What’s next for your rescue work?
As our monthly donations get bigger (currently over $20k a month), we’d like to take on bigger and more impactful projects. And after that? Perhaps we start our own animal welfare organization where we’re able to help animals in our own special way.