If you’re happy and you know Whit

scared |skerd| adjective fearful; frightened: he's trembling and scared at the shelter | [ with clause ] :  I was scared to take him in | [ with  infinitive ]: We were scared that he would not get along with other dogs 


Little Bernie is finally going to his forever home this week! Hooray for Bernie. That means that I can take in another small dog. This is what came to my attention:

IPAC is Iberia Parish Animal Control.

It’s nearly 4th of July, and the shelters are full. In the summer months, it’s a depressing triage. I cannot imagine working in the shelter, having full responsibility for the process of choosing which will be euthanized. Working in rescue is, for me, is a happy thing. I am looking at the glass as half full. I choose, from amongst a large number that require fosters, which ones to help. I can’t save every dog, but I can save one at a time, and that is enough for me. I cannot, as much as I would like to, take in a pregnant dog right now, nor can I take in the mother with her seven nursing puppies. I can’t even respond to the messages that come in to the rescues that sound like this: I have been taking care of this dog, but it is not mine and I’m going on vacation so I need someone to take it or I’m taking it to the shelter. The shelter says if it is not claimed after three days, it will be euthanized. Or like this: I need a new home for my dog, he is really sweet and house-trained but my baby is due next week and I need him gone. Or like this: I’m looking to re-home this 10 month old puppy, my daughter doesn’t play with it anymore and we want it to go to a good home. I work and I just can’t give it the attention it needs. Yes, people suck. These are the people that are at least trying to reach out to a rescue for help. In the grand scheme of things, they are way better than the ones that dump their dogs or take them to a shelter without even trying to find a new home for them. 

I have Tres here, going through physical therapy and needing help with the stairs to go in and out of the house. I have Henry going through his heartworm treatment. He is on strict cage rest with leashed potty breaks only. No running, no jumping, no playing. It has been 4 weeks of that, and he has 4-6 to go. He is not pleased. I have Nola, who, along with Bernie,  is working hard on potty training, but he’s used to just going when the urge hits. I have my hands full. Add my dogs – Pen & Ollie & Bailey – and I have 7. What am I going to do if this little, shaking dog, who has come from a really bad situation, doesn’t get along with the other dogs?

Well, this could go one way or another. Either he will start a fight, or, and I was strongly counting on this outcome, he will arrive at The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs, will meet the pack, and will decide that this is a happy, safe, and fun place to be. Add to this uncertainty the fact that this little guy is an intact male. I have had zero luck with boys with balls. They can be aggressive, stupidly aggressive, like pick-a-fight-with-a-dog-6-times-your-size stupidly aggressive.

This poor little guy has been mistreated and is scared. I’m scared he won’t do well here. What do you do when you’re scared? Well, thinking about it won’t make the fear go away, but action will. I decided to try. Running The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs has been about stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. And guess what?

I can do this. Again and again, I realize I can do this. And so, I am very pleased to share pictures and videos of a little scared dog we call Whit. Whit isn’t scared anymore. This boy is happy. Like all of the dog guests that have come before him, he is grateful. He is happy. He is lifting his leg on my chair – no Whit! Outside! Okay, we are working on this. Those balls are coming off today buddy; you don’t need them. We are not marking all over the house. Nope. No.


This is what happiness looks like. Click here. This is why I foster.

Whit is a 6-year-old bundle of happiness and he is in need of a forever home. He will follow you everywhere, wagging his tail. He would love to sit on your lap. Whit (minus those pesky balls) is available for adoption through Take Paws Rescue.


The Daycare Puppy

Eliza was dropped over the 6 foot privacy fence at The Eden Daycare facility with another puppy and abandoned. They were found Monday morning by an appalled staff member, filthy, hungry, and covered in fleas. They caught the jerk who had done it, abandoned them, threw them away. They were his and his girlfriend’s puppies.  There was some lame excuse about a fight they had. He did it to hurt his girlfriend. Idiot.

Eliza had a flea allergy. The day that I picked her up from the Veterinary Hospital that had been caring for her, she was looking rough, scrawny-underweight, missing a lot of hair, her ears were pink and nearly hairless. She smelled bad, from the flea dip, and she had a big scab on her bottom. They said that her anal glands had been infected. She is a mess, I said, poor thing. She looks much better, they said.


Click her to see Eliza’s arrival at The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs 

A few weeks later, I took her to the vet and there was another yellow lab puppy just her age, all plump and healthy and fluffy. The difference in them made me sad. This girl had a rough start. She didn’t deserve that.

We were at the vet a few times with Eliza. She had a seroma, a fluid build-up, on her little bum. We had it drained twice. It may have happened because of the drop over the fence. I hate to think about her falling like that.

Eliza has long legs, and big, webbed, labrador feet. She is going to grow up to be a big girl, and beautiful, and loved. It amazes me, dogs that are treated so badly, and yet they trust me. They crawl into my lap. They want to be held. I guess it takes a lot of abuse to make them lose faith in humans. Puppies, in particular, just want to be held. (It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.)

I don’t know what happened to the other puppy, a german shepherd, it went to another rescue. The rest of the Cecchine Hotel dogs trained Eliza, as much or more so than we did. They let her know that this is a safe place, a happy place. That is really a good feeling, to see that and know that this is a healing place. The pictures that I took say more about that than any words I can write.  We loved her and help her and played with her, and then we sent her to her forever family to live the happily-ever-after that she deserved all along.

Eliza - fostered 31 March 2017 - 22 April 2017
Adopted in Virginia

Собака по имени Саша – our newest guests

Her name is Cherokee Princess Sapphire, but we call her Sasha. It suits her. Her shelter papers had her listed as Sapphire, but she’s no good on the pole, if you know what I mean. I chose Sasha because it is a soft name, feminine and strong. A good Slavic name for a beautiful pure bred Siberian Husky. And she is beautiful. Her eyes are the light blue of frozen glacier water. Why the long name above? This girl has AKC papers. How in the hell does a gorgeous, 3-year-old American Kennel Club girl end up in a shelter?  Was there some awful tragedy in the family? Nope. This is one of the stories that make me angry. I will try to balance my angry frustration with lovely puppy photos, and accept that we never really know why people do the sucky things that they do.

The lovely woman who volunteered to drive Sasha, and several other dogs, south to various rescue organizations told me Sasha’s story as she rolled her eyes in disgust. Sasha was owned by the daughter of the shelter manager where she was turned in, un-spayed, with the excuse that daughter had been evicted and moved to a place that doesn’t accept pets. This dog would have cost anywhere from $1300 on up from a breeder, which leaves lots of questions. Excuse my general indignation, but, how can you be an animal shelter manager and not teach your own child to spay/neuter her pets? Why would a shelter manager’s daughter buy a dog from a breeder when so many beautiful, deserving dogs are being euthanized at mom’s shelter? Why wouldn’t mom make her daughter either find a way to keep the dog or help her to find a new home for this girl? Shelter managers know that when the shelters are full, as they are now, completely full, the owner surrendered dogs are the first to be euthanized.  (Strays are held for about a week while their owners have a chance to find them.)

Despite being abandoned by her owner, Sasha is lovely and likes to cuddle up into a ball at my feet. I have been battling a stomach flu, and Sasha has been nursing me, keeping me company, letting me know that I am loved. She plays with Bernie, our little dachshund puppy, at my feet.

She makes my first lab, Pen, extremely jealous with her I’m-beautiful-and-I’ll cuddle-your-mom-if-I-want-to-attitude. I’m pretty sure that Sasha was an only dog. The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs has been an adjustment for her, and she is doing very well.

Sasha is not the 1st purebred dog I’ve seen in a shelter, and she won’t be the last. It makes me angry. I feel like its just to easy for people to throw dogs away, not my problem, let somebody else deal with it.

We are so happy to have Sasha as our guest, but we know it won’t be for long. This beautiful girl is going to be adopted quickly. She is going to be taken into a family and loved forever, the way that it should be. We are excited to find her forever family. They will be lucky to have her.

Sasha will be available for adoption from Take Paws Rescue. Also, if you happen to need a calendar, Take Paws can help you out.

2017 Take Paws Rescue Calendar

(Oh yeah, and I have a degree in Russian, which I don’t get to use much these days, and I’m perfectly good with that!)

Let me pause here for a puppy photo:

Its not a great photo, but they are cute. Someone dumped them, 7 of them. Yeah, people suck. It was called a “common dumping area”. The good news: someone picked them up! Yay! The bad news: it turns out they have skin issues, possibly mange. The good news: a rescue volunteer was ready to take them and make sure that they get the care that they need and deserve. The bad news: the person that found them said that she was just going to dump them again rather than deal with it. She then agreed to bring them to the rescuer. Bad news: She never showed up or answered the rescuer’s calls. Why do people suck this much? They are cute, little, innocent puppies for God’s sake! More bad news: dogs and cats and puppies and kittens get dumped every day. There are more puppies and kittens being born than people willing to take them into their homes, and that is why some people are completely opposed to any sort of formal breeding.  I just want people to take responsibility for the pets that they brig into their home. They are living things, and they should be treated as part of the family. As much as you might want to, you don’t move away and leave family in the backyard for the neighbors to feed. You don’t dump the families’ babies in a box somewhere and let them fend for themselves. He might really be an ass, but you don’t throw grumpy old uncle Jack out of a truck and just drive away from him. Family is forever, period, the end.

I’d like to end on a positive, and I was ready to post this blog entry, when I saw a message that came to NOLA Lab Rescue:

“Hello, I have a friend on vacation in New Orleans. A stray dog followed her back to her Airbnb and she doesn’t know who to reach out to. The Shelter is closed until tomorrow and the humane society has a waiting list to take in strays. Any suggestions?”

I suggested that she take the dog to Zeus’ Rescues, where they have a microchip reader. She doesn’t have a car. Found out you can Uber with a dog. You just have to let the driver know in advance. Then she said that the finder was willing to take the dog home with her, to Ohio, and that she already has a rescued dog, a lab named Bentley from The Greater Dayton Labrador Retriever Rescue. Then I knew she was a good person, and I just gave my number and asked the finder to call me. Jenny is the lovely young lady that rescued an overheated, dehydrated puppy and went all out trying to get him home or home with her. We drove to her AirBnB with dog food, a small harness, a leash, a small stuffed pig, some treats, and a crate. We hoped to help her find a pet carrier and she had already added him to her ticket home tomorrow on Allegiant Air. Unfortunately, this little puppy is too big for that size carrier. She named him Nola. I told her I had posted his picture on all of the local lost pet boards and I would take him to get scanned for a microchip.

There, that’s better. Not all people suck!

Nola does not have a microchip. I asked and  Zeus’ Rescues gave me a sample of Trifexis ( kills fleas and prevents flea infestations, treats and controls adult hookworm, whipworm and roundworm infections, and prevents heartworm disease) and I have some dewormer at home that I randomly bought at Walmart just in case.  We decided to bring Nola to The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs and find him transportation to Ohio. I have family in Cincinnati, so that might end up being me.

добро пожаловать! Welcome Nola!



He seems to like it here. He is absolutely adorable.

The Comeback is Always Stronger Than the Setback

Uno, dos, Tres … recovery!

After dropping Tres off at South Paws 5 days ago, we are so excited and relieved to have him back at The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs! Everyone was so happy to welcome him home.

Here’s the run-down on what’s happening. Tres was found caught in a hunting trap at 4 months old and his back leg was cut off to free him. Due to infection, he needed further amputation, and lost his entire right rear leg. After coming into foster care, Tres was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia on his remaining rear leg and a Femoral Head Osteotomy (the removal of the “ball” part of the ball-and-socket that makes up the hip joint) procedure was performed to eliminate his pain. He has had a few days of recovery with the wonderful staff at South Paws Veterinary Surgical Specialists, and he is back with us at last. The vet techs told us that Tres doesn’t know a stranger, he loves everyone and is eager for attention of any kind. It is amazing to think of what happened to him, and still he is a happy, trusting, loving puppy!

This reminds of something….

We are keeping Tres strictly confined until his doctor gives up a green light to begin physical therapy. He is in an x-pen and he needs a lot of help moving around to go outside and do his business. We are helping him support his weight with a sling.

This will be a difficult recovery for Tres. Being an amputee makes Tres’s recovery process significantly longer and more complicated. He will need aggressive physical therapy and supportive treatment over the next 2-3 months. The goal for Tres will be to speed the recovery of the left hip by maintaining range of motion, recovering muscle mass, and increasing weight bearing.

It is critical to build up his gluteal musculature to support his hip. Tres’s sutures will be removed June 19th and then he will begin full course rehabilitation approximately 3 times a week. This will include: underwater treadmill, cold and heat therapy, therapeutic laser and therapeutic ultrasound, neuromuscular electro-stimulation, and specialized muscle re-education exercises.  We expect to see improvements in weight-bearing, range of motion, and muscle mass over the coming months. Tres has severe muscle atrophy and we will be working with him on prescribed at home rehabilitation as well as his physical therapy sessions at South Paws. We are working hard to give him the best recovery possible, and we can’t do it without you! We are still short of our fundraising goal. Please help us to help this sweet puppy in his recovery! The vet says that with the appropriate therapy, Tres’s prognosis is excellent!

We will do everything we can to speed the brave puppy’s recovery and help him return to full mobility faster and stronger.



The only thing better than a puppy? 2 puppies!

I like a challenge. I like to learn new things. I like puppies. (Duh.)

I’m working my way up to taking in a pregnant rescue, but at the moment, I have my hands full with Henry the beagle’s heartworm treatment, (60 days of cage rest),  and Tres the tripod’s FHO surgery and rehabilitation. However, it’s been weeks since we had a young puppy (I’m so spoiled.) So, the same day that Sophie went to her forever home, we picked up two 8-week-old puppies (before her crate got cold.) I like a full house!

Welcome Lucy and Bernie! NOLA Lab Rescue took in an accidental litter of Dachshund-Catahoula puppies. I used to take one puppy in; this time I thought, I’ll try two!


I guess mom and dad used a ladder of some sort to make this happen…

These puppies inherited all of the cute, and none of the stature! Their legs are short, their bodies are long, their ears are floppy, and they are ready to win your heart over. They look very Dachshund. Dachshunds are scent hounds who were bred to hunt tunneling animals, such as badgers, rabbits, and foxes. But what, you might be asking, is a Catahoula? Catahoulas are a Louisiana breed. They are an amalgamation of native American dogs, Greyhounds, and Spanish Mastiffs, bred to track and drive feral hogs and cattle in swamps and forests. What an odd, cute mix!

Lucy and Bernie are spunky, playful, active puppies, and we adore them. Lucy is the more active of the pair. She likes to explore and squeeze into tight spaces. Bernie is a little, rounder and calmer. I have them set up together in a puppy playpen next to my desk, but they are mostly roaming the house. They sort of imprinted on Gary, and they follow him everywhere he goes. They get along with all of the dogs, and totally ignore the occasional ‘get off my lawn’ sort of growl that comes from 90lbs Ringo and Henry the Beagle. Tres has just doted on them. If they are in the playpen, you will find Tres next to it. They are often napping with Tres. He is very protective of them.

It is an absolute joy having tiny puppies in the house. My face hurts from smiling. If you need a puppy fix, I highly recommend fostering. You get a few weeks of them and then they go off to their happy forever homes and your house will be calm again. Win. Win. Okay, there are some messes to clean up, but so what. Your floor probably needed to be cleaned anyway, right?

Speaking of messes…

This is New Orleans in May – so, rain, then storms, then more rain, until the yard is a soggy, muddy mess. (Basically, payback for the nice winter.) Some of the dogs do not like it. (Some like the mud a little too much, but have been trained not to roll in it, ahem, Pen.) When it rains, we play inside. Because we have tiny puppies, which are A) not potty trained, and B) not fully vaccinated, which means no paws on the ground yet, we have puppy training pads at the doors. Guess what I found out? My foster dogs that have spent quite a bit of time in shelters got used to using those too. So, we have big dogs peeing on tiny little puppy pads, and missing quite a bit. Ugh! I’ve been cleaning floors quite a bit this week. Good times. Thank God for hardwood floors. If this house were carpeted, this would not be okay.

Time for an important warning:  ROOMBA AND DOG POOP ARE MORTAL ENEMIES  If you are lucky enough to have a robot 
vacuum, and I can't recommend this enough, it is life-changing, then FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHECK YOUR FLOORS 

Back to the many joys of puppies….they are just a blur of happiness. Occasionally, they sit still long enough for a photo.

This dog is home – Iffy Foster Fail








Dogs have big personalities. You can research a breed and get a general idea of their general disposition, but there are no guarantees. When you have a lot of dogs coming through your hotel, you realize that some dogs fit your family better than others. There are easy-going, chill dogs, high-maintenance, needy dogs, and everything in between. You never know what you are going to get, and you can’t judge a dog by its breed or its looks. I have met the sweetest, calmest pit bulls, and the meanest little yorkies.

Whatever kind of dog you think you want, there are certain dog faces that make you fall in love at first sight. You can’t help yourself. My Facebook feed is filled with rescue dog posts. I see a lot of dog pictures.  Did you know that some people sell and or/give dogs away on Facebook? It seems like a reasonable marketplace for dog lovers to find available dogs. One big problem comes to mind – dog-fighting. It is unbelievable to me that this is a thing, but it is. It involves fighting dogs and bait dogs and I’m no expert, but I have become aware that there are dog-fighting rings and they are looking for free or cheap dogs. That is why I am a member of several Facebook Groups for people who are looking to “rehome” their pets.  See that puppy up there, that picture in the middle. I fell in love. Mom is a lab-mix, she had an accidental litter, and puppies were being given away on Facebook. I NEEDED to save this one. I had to make sure that it got a good home, a great home. OMG, look at that puppy face. In love.

I drove out into the country to meet the owner and see if I could help her with her puppies. She couldn’t afford to keep them. They hadn’t had any immunizations. She was doing her best, but was worried that the momma dog was already pregnant again.  I talked to her about how to make sure the puppies all went to good homes. (Ask for a potential adopter’s vet’s phone number. Call them. Make sure their dogs are up to date on vaccinations and are well cared for. Ask for personal references that you can call.)  I gave her info on local low-cost spay programs. I brought home this gorgeous little foster puppy.

I named him Bailey.

Bailey is my perfect dog. He like to snuggle on my lap. He gets so excited about food that he bounces across the floor like a bunny rabbit. He has these super, short daschsund legs, but he bounds across the room and launches himself up on my lap. We call him a flying squirrel. He is an adorably silly-looking, iffy dog mix of Labrador Retriever, Chow, English Bulldog and Dachshund. (I know, because we DNA tested him out of extreme curiosity.) Bailey is my personal therapy dog. He drops my blood pressure and makes me smile so much that it hurts. It didn’t take me long to realize that he was home. Everyone who saw us together knew I was going to foster fail. I know, I know what you are thinking. 1. You can’t keep them all, and 2. how do you not keep them all?  So, here’s the thing. I love ALL of these dogs. I love having them here. I love watching them heal and I love seeing them go to their forever homes.  Some of them are easier to say goodbye to than others. Some dogs are fiercely independent, and they are easier to send off than the needy ones. Some are really needy, and it can get tiring giving them all of the attention that they deserve. A 90lbs lap dog is not so much my thing. Some of these dogs fit my family just right. Bailey was different from the others somehow. I got a message that he could be added to a transport to New York and I cried. No. No! I’m not okay with Bailey leaving, just no. I had to convince my family, who love him, but hadn’t thought of him as anything other than a temporary foster dog. We had, in particular, drilled the word temporary into the kid’s heads. I failed. I foster failed and I’m so glad that I did. We adopted Bailey and he is my little best friend. I cannot imagine my life without him.

All of my foster dogs wear a little bone shaped tag that says ADOPT ME on one side and has my contact information on the back. I let my family know that I was not giving Bailey up (after lots of discussion) by going to Petsmart and buying him a tag that says BAILEY. It was my $7 way of making him a permanent member of my family. He serves as our hotel butler. He buttles. He is at the door to greet you and will walk you out when you leave. If your feet get cold he will lay on them. If you are stressed, he will jump up in your lap and you will feel the stress melting away.

Some of the local rescues have programs where you can check out a dog like you check out a book. You can borrow them, take them home, see how they fit your life, and then decide if you want to make an adoption commitment. I think that’s great. If you don’t want to try foster-to-adopt, where you agree to foster with an option to adopt, then the next best option is to borrow a rescue dog for a weekend or a week and see if that’s your dog. You will know.  The difference between getting a dog straight from the shelter and getting a dog through is a rescue may seem minimal, but in some ways there are advantages to going through a rescue. A rescue will make sure that the dog is fully vetted, meaning its been to the vet, has all of its shots, has been spayed or neutered, and is on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, and has been micro-chipped (invaluable for getting a lost dog returned to its owner). That is what you are getting when you pay an adoption fee . A rescue foster has also spent time assessing each dog and can tell you if a dog is well suited to a house with children, cats, or other dogs. Rescue volunteers take time to call adopter’s personal references, their vet, their landlord. We visit the home and make sure that it is safe and appropriate for the animal. I wouldn’t recommend a large, active 1-year-old Labrador Retriever for an older couple who have had hip replacement and have an unfenced yard, but I’m sure that everybody has their perfect dog out there somewhere. If you haven’t already, I hope you can find yours.


Bailey - fostered and adopted - 2 March 2017 - forever