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

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

A cuddle-bunny named Sophie

If you stray, as we all do from time to time, and you end up at the shelter during Easter, they name you Bunny. When you get rescued, you get a name that suits you. Sophie it is. I’m not a fan of renaming dogs if they are already trained to a name, but this 8 year old beauty has a mysterious past. Along with a new start and a new collar, she gets a new name, an I’m not a pole dancer name.

Welcome Sophie. We’re glad you’re here.

One of my favorite things is introducing the new guests to the resident and foster dogs at our hotel. My dogs are very social. I love to see all of the tail wagging as they meet, circle, sniff, and hump the new guest (stop it Bailey!)

We are sort of like a Bed and Breakfast, but for dogs,so actually more of a Crate and Bowl. If we were running an ad it would say:

Welcome to our Hotel for Dogs. We are located in sunny New Orleans, just barking distance from a whole host of tourist attractions and excellent restaurants. If you are lucky, you will be asked to sit table-side at some of our outdoor venues. We are located just next to the Broadmoor walking trail and we have on-site exercise facilities with a personal trainer available. We serve 3 in-crate meals daily, have 24 hour concierge service, and training snacks and water are always available. Rest awhile on our spacious front porch, play ball in the yard, or, on particularly hot days, we offer a small pool and sprinkler for all of your cooling off needs. 

Thank you for choosing to decompress and heal* at the Cecchine Hotel for Dogs. 

*2 of our guests, Henry the beagle, and Sophie the lab, will be undergoing heart worm treatment under our care. Last week, Sophie was on her third week of four weeks of the antibiotic doxycycline. Her tummy was upset; she wouldn’t eat. Even though she wasn’t feeling well, she was her regular, cheerful self. She was slightly dehydrated, so I walked her to the vet where she sat very calmly for 4 separate needle pricks to get fluids. She got some anti-naseau medication and we switched her from kibble to chicken and rice and she is feeling all better. She is done with this first step of treatment, hooray!

Miss Sophie is just a darling. She is the oldest guest in the hotel and she mothers all of the other guests. Here she is with our 8 month-old-tripod, Trey. Isn’t that sweet?

What can I say about Sophie? She is beautiful. She loves it when I scratch behind her ears. She likes to be brushed, which we do a lot, because this girl is fluffy. Sophie loves to take walks around the neighborhood. She likes to meet other dogs who are also out walking. She’s quite social. I have to be careful opening the front gate, because she would like to explore. She doesn’t run out, she ambles out.

I really love that when she smiles, she looks young!




I can’t imagine a forever home that wouldn’t love this calm, gentle girl.  Sophie is available for adoption through NOLA Lab Rescue here.

Sophie - fostered 22 April 2017 - 31 May 2017
Adopted in Covington, Louisiana

Uno, Dos, Tres…welcoming three more legs

Just another day ay The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs…

I was just saying to my husband, you know what this hotel needs? A three legged dog. (We have 6 rescue dogs and two 8-week-old puppies on the way, but what the hell…)
This is Tres. He is a tripawd puppy. (Get it? uno, dos, Tres)…This seven-month-old lab-mix was found caught in a hunting trap last April. The man who found him didn’t know how to get him out of it and so he cut off his rear leg with a hot pocketknife. I can think of a lot of things I would do if I found a dog in a trap, and that is not one of them. This poor puppy must have been in so much pain. Tres was brought to a rural shelter in Many, LA and a vet had to amputate the rest of the leg due to infection. To add insult to injury, they took his balls too. (Well, he needed to be neutered.) Tres is doing okay on three legs and no balls but he has a long road ahead of him.

The Sabine Animal Shelter is full, and when I saw his picture (above) and read his story, I immediately knew that I had to help him get out.  NOLA Lab Rescue agreed to liberate this sweetheart and I am going to foster him.  You can follow along with Tres’s story on Iffy Dog, on my Facebook and on Instagram @danielle_at_pithypen.

NOLA Labrador Retriever Rescue is a 501c3 nonprofit animal rescue that is entirely run by volunteers.  NOLA Lab Rescue is dedicated to placing Labrador 
Retrievers into approved, loving homes and promoting responsible pet ownership. We receive zero government funding and we save these babies with the help of donations from people like you. 

Our mission is to provide:

*permanent adoptive homes for unwanted, abandoned or abused labs and lab mixes

*medical care and foster homes for rescued dogs

*education to pet owners regarding spaying/neutering and responsible pet ownership

*public information about irresponsible breeding practices and animal abuse in an effort to end both

Days 1 and 2: We am so excited to have Tres as a guest at The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs while he gets healthy and we find his perfect forever family. The shelter assured me that Tres is doing very well on 3-legs, but, we consider ourselves a 5-star Hotel for Dogs and we must fully prepare for our guest. We work hard to ensure all of our guest’s safety and comfort. I am, of course, referring to Housing Accessibility under the Americans with Disability Act and the Fair Housing Act, (ADA Title II), Facility Access. I will spare you the legalese. We needed a ramp.
My house, in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans, aka, ‘the Bowl’, sits 5 feet below sea level on the Mississippi River flood plain. Built in 1915, the year of a big hurricane (back before they named them), it was the same year that New Orleans’ first pumping station was built. You can walk to it from my house. Like many area homes, mine is elevated. We have steps up to the front porch and to the back deck. Trey is a young dog, and certainly will be capable of doing stairs, however, I am concerned about injury. Some of our guests crowd the stairs and do not politely take turns. Tres will be putting extra stress on his three remaining legs.
As a side note, my son James did an independent study in Geometry last year and his project was to design an ADA compliant ramp for a non-compliant building at his school. He was able to design, 3D print, and present his findings to the headmaster, who then took the opportunity to teach him about ‘grandfather clauses’.  So, I could have utilized my 12-year-old’s excellent math skills for this compliance project, but instead, I did what I always do. I turned to Amazon. We have installed a telescoping ramp of the sort that can also be used to allow dogs easy access to the rear of an SUV (that I need but don’t have).
Wondering what else I might need to ensure Tres’s overall wellbeing during his visit, I came across Tripawds, a user supported community for amputation and bone cancer care for pets. I have spent the morning learning about three legged dogs.

 Tips for three legged pets: 

 * Minimize activity during recuperation 

 * Do not over pamper your pet, they will do fine on three legs 

 * Be patient 

 * Use caution on ramps and stairs 

 * Provide non-skid surfaces to avoid injuries 

 * Ensure that your pet gets adequate pain control and keep your vet informed about how your pet is responding to 
   pain medication 

 * Consider a rehab therapy program with a licensed practitioner 

 * Keep your tripod lean and active. You want to avoid weight problems on their compensating joints 

 * Consider a quality joint supplement such as Cosequin

Tres is doing reasonably well. We will take Tres to the vet to discuss pain management. I do know that many pain medications cause constipation, so I’ve already looked into remedies for that.

You can add any of the following to dog food to alleviate constipation: canned  pumpkin (not spiced), steamed sweet 
potato, bran flakes, Metamucil, warm milk,  olive or fish oil (I use salmon and/or anchovy oil).  Works on kids too! 
(not the dog food, just the other stuff)

I’m assuming that this dog is going to have some pain. But wait, your dog can’t tell you he’s in pain, and pain medicine is complicated. Think about it, whenever you go to the doctor, you are asked to rate your pain from 1 to 10 by pointing to a chart of increasingly unhappy stick-figure faces. It’s not even close to an exact science. Some people are just unhappy and whiny, right? Dogs can’t put words to their discomfort, but observing their behavior can tell us a lot about how they are feeling. Is your dog acting normal? Does the dog sleep soundly, wag their tail, eat well, still beg for table scraps, and want to hang out with family. All of these habitual things indicate that your dog is doing well. When the dog is in acute pain, there is often an abrupt change in their behavior, and whining. Chronic pain, the kind that builds slowly over time, can be much harder to spot. Observe your pet. They will tell you in their own way when something just isn’t right. Watch for decreased appetite and or lethargy.

I’ve copied a chart used by professionals:

Back to Amazon. Tripawds suggests a special harness with a lift handle so that I can help Tres up and down the ramp and stairs. Got one. Hmmm…it says that rugs should be put down to keep him from slipping. This could be an issue. I do not like rugs. First of all, we have allergies, and it’s easier to keep hardwood floors clean. Second, the two areas that are carpeted in my house are pretty much the places that every puppy goes to pee (do they think they are hiding it in the carpet or something?) I needed an alternative. I kept looking… ta-da; Paw Friction applied to the dog’s pads will provide traction. Done. What else? A Rehab Therapy Program. Well that sounds awesome, and expensive. What can I do on my own? I can certainly get a book and learn a few stretches and exercises.
Kids are getting out school in a few weeks, what the $&*! am I going to do with them? (It hits me like a brick wall, every May.) I know, we have a wobble board. James used it with an occupational therapist when he was young. I’ll get a dog sized one and we’ll play catch. I can put a kid on one and a dog on the other. It helps with balance and all of the tiny muscle movements that are needed. I used  one in physical therapy when I tore the ligaments in my ankle. Good times.

How to use a wobble board:
 Place the board on a non-slip surface and sit your dog/child on the board. Use your foot to shift the board from one side to another while using a treat to ask your dog/child to look up, down, and from side to side. Work your way up  to having your child/dog stand on the board. Throw stuff at them. Fun, right? They try to balance and catch.

While we are at it, and since I’m on Amazon Smile and NOLA Lab Rescue gets a donation from every purchase I make, we definitely an ice pack. I used ice a lot for my pain. They make a dog fitting one. The delivery guys love me…

(If you aren’t using Amazon Smile, please pick your favorite charity and sign up!) Hey, pick NOLA LAB RESCUE! It helps Tres and others like him.

Look, he’s already smiling because you are helping him 🙂

Day 3: 

Day 3 is magic, and like all of our other guests, Tres has fully made himself at home here. The ramp is in place on the front porch office stairs. We started out assisting him. He would whine or bark at the bottom of the stairs and we would give him support on the way up the ramp. His harness has a handle for that. As of yesterday afternoon, Tres has not only learned to use his ramp, he has also managed to get himself up and down the stairs unassisted. He is determined not to be left behind, and he’s never far from my side. His determination makes me think that he will do well with physical therapy.

(Bailey, aka the Flying Squirrel, thinks the ramp is his personal trick ramp, and he does an amazing leap once he’s half-way down. It’s impressive considering his little legs, but he thinks he can fly.)

Today Tres had an evaluation at Southern Animal Foundation, one of New Orlean’s only low cost, non-profit animal hospitals. He was not happy to get in the car when I said vet. I’m glad he’s still easily liftable at 42lbs. When we arrived, he hit the tile floors and just splayed. He was intentionally going limp as I tried to walk him to the exam room. I wanted them to see his poor gait. After a very long stay in an animal hospital and shelter, he was not happy with the cold tile floors and the fluorescent lights. I don’t blame him. I’ll bet it smells a certain way to him too. He didn’t even want the treats I offered him.

Tres also did not enjoy the physical exam. I did my best to give tummy rubs while he was stretched and palpated. He was not amused, but submitted to it. The vet said that he has abnormal motion in his remaining rear leg. We talked about a local rehab option, SouthPaws, and she took him for x-rays.

Not good news.

Tres’s hip is not properly placed on his remaining rear leg. She shared the x-rays with an orthopedic specialist at SouthPaws on a phone consult. Trey is going to need hip replacement or specialized surgery on his remaining rear leg, and then physical rehabilitation. Good news, he is young and can live a full, wonderful life once we get him, err, straightened out. So, here’s the thing. I am in love with this boy. Look at him. He’s a doll. How can you not love him? He must be in chronic discomfort if not pain, but he is happy to be here his tail is wagging and he just wants to play with everybody here. He has endured the worst and still loves everyone and life. Tres has a really great life ahead of him. He was lucky. He was saved. Rescued twice. I am, therefore, going into full-on fundraising mode. We don’t know what the costs will be, but they will be substantial. I am confident that you all will fall in love with this boy too, and together we can give him the bright future that he, and every dog, deserves. I am happy to be his hotel and his foster momma until Tres gets back on his feet again, pun intended, but this boy needs a forever home. Please share his story, help me get him well, and then his hotel crate will be used to help another puppy in need!

I’m going to get him started on the pain meds and see if they help him out.

Update here: The Comeback is Always Stronger Than the Setback 

Why I Foster – Meet Lila

Grand Opening of the Cecchine Hotel for Dogs

Finding our second dog, Ollie, opened the door to the world of rescue. I am a one to go down rabbit holes on the Internet, and this was no exception. I was fascinated to learn about the local rescue organizations and the work they are doing here in New Orleans. I first stumbled across NOLA Lab Rescue on Facebook last January. NOLA Labrador Retriever Rescue is a volunteer run, nonprofit organization dedicated to placing unwanted, abandoned and abused Labrador Retrievers and Lab mixes into approved, permanent, loving homes and promoting responsible pet ownership. I looked around and latched onto a single post seeking fosters for puppies. This particular tiny, needy puppy looked a lot like my yellow lab. Our first dog was a lab because my husband has a lot of experience with them. Labrador Retrievers are consistently among the most popular breeds in the US. They make wonderful pets. They love exercise, playing fetch, and swimming. Labs are loyal and kind, gentle and patient with kids, great with other dogs, and they are intelligent and easy to train. So, I’m looking at this picture of a lab puppy. I like puppies. OK, I love puppies. I could get one, like immediately. I impulsively volunteered, filled out a foster application, and impatiently waited to get my first foster puppy. I named her Lila.

Its just temporary, I told my husband. Many, many times I told him that. (I don’t think he believed me yet). Lila stayed with us from January through March 2017. She was transported to upstate New York for adoption and is now living happily ever after in her forever home. She was my training puppy, (as far as rescue work goes). I learned a lot through my rescue experiences with Lila. There are an amazing group of volunteers in place to get the word out about dogs in need, to pull dogs from high kill shelters and get them in foster homes, and to coordinate adoption (from phone interviews, to vet checks, to home checks). There are people volunteering to transport them across the country to get to forever homes. In Lila’s case, all the way from New Orleans to upstate New York. We sometimes have drivers going long distances and sometimes have 20 drivers each taking a short leg. It amazes me that people do this, and at the same time, it is such an easy and rewarding thing to do, it surprises me that more people don’t.

I’ll admit it. I started fostering for selfish reasons.  We can’t afford the vet bills for more dogs, but I want more dogs, so fostering is a good option. By becoming a foster parent, I am not only gaining a fluffy guest, I could be saving two dog’s lives. I am taking one dog out of a stressful, high-kill shelter, and I am also opening up a cage for another dog in need. NOLA Lab Rescue is a no-kill dog rescue where dogs never run out of time. NOLA labs live in caring foster homes for anywhere from a few days or a few months while waiting to find their forever homes. As a foster, I provide a safe home and food, and the rescue pays for all of the vet care and can supply crates and other necessary items as needed. Is it hard? Nope. (Like having kids, only the first one is hard.) Do I get attached? Absolutely. I love these dogs. So, how do I send them away then? It’s actually simple. I’m more happy for the dog that is finding the right forever home than I am sad for me. Also, one dog checking out of the Cecchine Hotel for Dogs means we have room for another guest, and we get to save another life. That is why I do this. It feels really, really good.

How can you help? Animal rescue runs on volunteers. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, you can volunteer at adoption events.  Rescue groups near you could use your help in the following areas: fosters, adoption screeners, animal transport volunteers, public outreach and fundraising, social media, dog training, and photography. No time at all? Rescue groups will very thankfully accept donations of dog food, crates, leashes, and tax deductible donations to pay the vet bills. Many rescues have an Amazon Wishlist. 

Why are we moving dogs from Louisiana to NY or VA or Maine? Why does the world need more rescue volunteers? Well the euthanasia statistics are depressing, I’ll get to that. I’m going to go cuddle a puppy now…

Lila - fostered 27 Jan - 10 March 2017 ; adopted in NY

Please spay and neuter your pets!