Coping Creatively with COVID-19: Sew Grateful

Two face masks sewn by UW Veterinary Care grateful client Cindy Pischke

A playful project where Patience is a patient and a virtue too

Funny photo of white dog sitting at sewing machine
One-year-old Patience sits at dog mom Cindy Pischke’s sewing machine.

It took Cindy Pischke over an hour to sew her first golden retriever-themed face mask. She taught herself the technique after watching a YouTube video. Now, after sewing more than 85 masks for Facebook friends across the country, Pischke can sew a mask in under 20 minutes.

The project began in April, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a request for a face mask from an immunocompromised friend. It has since gained momentum as a fundraising project to benefit the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, where Pischke and her husband Peter brought their golden, Patience, for advanced surgical care.

Pischke is a social worker, American Kennel Club judge, golden retriever breeder, avid dog photographer, and seamstress — a woman of many talents and treasures. Her house contains a closet full of dog-themed fabric, perfect for this endeavor.

poster showing grid of photos with people wearing dog themed face masks
Pischke’s local photo shop, Camera Casino in Oshkosh, donated commemorative posters with a collage of recipients wearing her face masks. One of these posters now hangs in UW Veterinary Care.

After posting a photo of her first mask on Facebook, she began receiving requests from her network of friends. People naturally wanted to pay her for the masks, but Pischke demurred.

Instead, she thought of her young pup Patience, who had recently been treated at UW Veterinary Care, the school’s teaching hospital. She reflected on working closely with small animal internal medicine resident Alexander Saver on a treatment plan and aftercare for Patience’s ectopic ureter, which required two surgeries.

“He’s a wonderful man. I think the world of that guy. He’s so caring and knowledgeable,” Pischke says. “Patience would not have survived if they did not do all that they did.”

With those memories fresh in her mind, Pischke contacted the school to find out how to direct donations to its building expansion fund. Then she posted the donation link on her Facebook page and was off and sewing, delivering canine cheer to those helping to slow the spread of COVID-19. To date, the recipients of Pischke’s masks have donated more than $1,200.

Denise Garlow


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