1st Rescue – Meet Pen and Ollie

It was a Saturday morning in New Orleans. The first Saturday of the month. We like to go to the local Freret Market. Freret Street is transitional. It is up-and-coming, revitalizing, and still haunted by its pre-Katrina gang and projects past. It’s a microcosm of my part of New Orleans, the affluent bumping up against the poor. House-by-house, block-by-block, revitalized, revitalizing, under-construction, tear-down. We looked at a house near Freret Street. It was an affordable and modern shotgun rebuild, walking distance to great new restaurants and bars. It was great except for the drug dealers two doors down. They were very polite. Like really polite. They said Good Morning as we walked the neighborhood. It’s a very southern thing, that politeness. I still can’t get used to it after living in DC and Paris. We talked to some neighbors and passed on that house. Not with kids, they said. Still, we like the restaurants. We frequent the monthly street market that has live music and food trucks and local artists and dog adoptions…

He wanted a hot dog and a beer. We put Pen, our young Labrador Retriever, my writing companion, in a harness and leash and headed out. There were puppies. Five of them, in a little pen. I knew they would be there. I just wanted to maybe look. They were really cute. I picked one up. I didn’t want to put him down. Um, beagles I think, said the sorority girl volunteer. They sort of had beagle coloring, and floppy ears, and long legs. Non-beagle legs. Beagle with a lift-kit, we decided. Cute, we decided. Pen liked him. She was surprisingly cool and well-behaved around the puppy. Please, I said? I might have whined. A little. I might have definitely had the pleading eyes and sad face as we walked away. Can we please? I pleaded. I came for a beer and a hot dog, he said. We can’t afford another dog, he said.  It was true that our one dog was expensive. We bought her and she had parasites and needed so many vaccinations and medecine, and dog beds, and a leash and collar and toys, and food and treats, and toys. She needed a good deal of toys. And attention. She needed a lot. And she would need to be spayed. Cha-Ching, cha-ching.

Let’s just ask, I said. I had heard sorority girl saying they had their shots and the rescue would pay for the spay/neuter. Maybe not so expensive, I said. We asked. We found the non-sorority girl in charge and we asked lots and lots of questions. Really, not so expensive. Cool. Ok, he said. Grudgingly. I could tell that he only wanted to make me happy and basically thought this was a really stupid idea. But, he said ok. We filled out adoption paperwork. I will need to talk to your vet, she said. We called his personal number, on a Saturday morning (sorry Ned), and handed her the phone. All good. I’ll need to do a home visit, she said. Right. We have a fence. We don’t have a landlord. We aren’t cooking meth or a puppy mill. Sure. When? I can come right after I’m done here, she said, around 4. Great, we said. And here is where it gets weird. It was loud with live music blaring. We thought she had okayed us taking the dog, and so I named him Ollie and brought him home. She never showed up at 4. We later got a phone call. She was unhappy. We took the dog without her permission, she said. Wait, what? We had talked to her for like half an hour and walked away from her holding the dog and everything was cool. Except that in her version, we had stolen the dog. Whatever. She was kind of dramatic. Ollie was fine, and napping, and I tried to reschedule that home visit for the next three days, and she just kept saying she would come, and never did. So, I’m not going to say who that rescue was, except to say that it’s not Zeus’ Place, which is usually at the Ferret Market and is great. I will say that that other rescue should have been more organized, more explicit, and more thorough. They should have followed up and they didn’t. I stole their dog. He is a great dog. We really love him. I’d steal him again. Trying to track down that rescue so that they could do the home visit is the reason I rescue now. Before that, I knew nothing about dog rescue. That was just the beginning…..

Pen - 8 September 2016 - forever

Ollie - 19 November 2016 - forever

Volunteering to Hold Puppies Is My Kind of Volunteering

Now that I am getting involved in animal rescue and learning about the local rescue organizations, I thought it would good to get the kids involved.  A few months ago, we made our bi-weekly pilgrimage to Company Burger, which just happens to be across the Street from Zeus’ Place. I have several friends who have adopted dogs from Zeus’ Place, and they always have a cute sign out that says something funny, like Slighty Used Kittens.  We walked in before dinner and asked about volunteering. My daughter and I have been helping out at their weekend adoption events ever since.  We spend a few hours with the adoptable dogs, sometimes in front of Petco, sometimes at Dat Dog (where you get a free hot dog if you adopt a dog). We get to hold puppies and walk the older dogs around to meet people. These animals are so happy for the attention. I found out that my daughter, who is 9, can read a cheat sheet of dog information, memorize the pertinent details, and make a pretty good hard sell.  It feels so good when someone fills out an application for adoption.

Michelle Ingram opened this New Orleans pet rescue, boarding and grooming establishment in 2006. After working in animal rescue for over a decade, Hurricane Katrina made her realize the importance of doing what you love. I am 100% in support of that. I like to say that I could have nice things, but I’d rather have a dog to cuddle up to (or you know 5 or 6).  Zeus’ Place is named after Michelle’s chocolate Labrador Retriever, who died of cancer not long before Katrina hit. This year they have expanded and they welcome new volunteers for adoption events and as registered dog walkers.  They often have litters of absolutely adorable puppies, and I’m happy to report that they are very quickly adopted out. If you follow along on Zeus’ Facebook page, you will see what I mean. Zeus’ also has a full range of mutts and iffy dogs of every size, shape, and color. If you are in New Orleans and looking to adopt, foster, or just take an iffy dog for a walk, check them out. Afterwards, you can walk up Freret street for an awesome hamburger at Company Burger or a really good hot dog at Dat Dog, both offer pet friendly outdoor seating.

I love the way that the local businesses are supporting rescue organizations, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon with my daughter than cuddling puppies, walking dogs, and helping them find their forever homes. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Kids should volunteer in the community, they should see their parents volunteer. It makes them better people.

May 2nd is Give NOLA Day, a tax-deductible way to support New Orleans non-profits like Zeus’ Place. Please consider a donation to this or one of your local rescues!

Michelle was recently on the news:  Here’s what Zeus’ Rescues is doing to end pet homelessness in New Orleans area

Give back. Volunteer. It just might be the best part of your weekend.