It’s a dog day, not just an afternoon

No one can have a sad expression for long once they spot Lena at Progressive Auto Center, said Lisa Kelly, owner. The 20-month-old Boxer can improve anyone's mood, and after one look at Lena, they start smiling and telling stories about their own pets. Lisa has been bringing her dogs to work for 15 years. In fact most of her customers will remember PeeWee, a Chihuahua-rat terrier mix, who is now retired and stays at home. Now, Lena has taken his place, sitting proudly in her desk chair behind the counter. Lisa said her northern customers who've had to leave their dogs behind will come in to see Lena and say, 'I need my dog fix.'

Sharon Yanish/Special to the Eagle

No one can have a sad expression for long once they spot Lena at Progressive Auto Center, said Lisa Kelly, owner. The 20-month-old Boxer can improve anyone's mood, and after one look at Lena, they start smiling and telling stories about their own pets. Lisa has been bringing her dogs to work for 15 years. In fact most of her customers will remember PeeWee, a Chihuahua-rat terrier mix, who is now retired and stays at home. Now, Lena has taken his place, sitting proudly in her desk chair behind the counter. Lisa said her northern customers who've had to leave their dogs behind will come in to see Lena and say, "I need my dog fix."

Every dog has his day.

June 20 is the 10th anniversary of Take Your Dog To Work Day, created by Pet Sitters International, an educational association for professional pet sitters. One day each year they urge employers across the country to allow employees to bring their dogs into the workplace to focus on what great companions animals make.

At the same time, the association encourages pet adoption from county shelters, dog pounds and humane societies to give older dogs another chance to be loyal and loving companions.

Marco Island resident, Deborah Chapman, volunteers at the Humane Society Naples, a privately funded organization with a no euthanasia policy. Recently, she said, the facility’s population has swelled with more than 200 dogs and cats.

“To my knowledge we’ve never had this many animals.”

Chapman believes the large number of foreclosures in the area has forced families from their homes into condos or apartments that don’t allow animals. Sometimes divorce, death, job loss, a move to a nursing home, or even allergies make it necessary for people to give up their pets, and the act of surrendering their beloved dog or cat is an emotional experience.

“They’re often crying when they bring in their animals,” said Chapman. “These pets are not ‘throw-aways.’ The families love them enough to give them another chance.”

One of Chapman’s most critical jobs at HSN is matching a surrendered pet with the right new family, using the history provided by the previous owner. Certain criteria must be met before they release the animal. A landlord or condo association must be consulted to make certain that dogs are accepted. A form asks questions about allergies, for what purpose the dog is wanted and where the dog will be kept.

“This is not a purchase,” she said. “This is an adoption.”

Thanks to the big heart of one Marco Island couple, another chance is what one small dog received.

In November, a technician found a dog left at the front gate of the Human Society Naples. The four-pound Yorkshire terrier was close to death. His hair was almost gone. He had ear and eye infections, a serious flea infestation and a racking cough. The dog was missing all his teeth. If that wasn’t enough, he had a tapeworm and pancreatitis. But in spite of all that, the little Yorkie was still alive.

Unlike public county facilities, HSN doesn’t take in strays and only accepts pets surrendered by owners. But the abandoned animal was in dire need, so the vet gave the dog emergency care, estimating his age at 14 years.

Amy and Jim Kauffman had been looking for a condo-sized pet and, once they saw the small dog, they decided to adopt him.

“He could barely lift his little head,” said Amy. “He was really in bad shape.” Once his health improved, the Kauffmans took him home. “His name is Lucky,” said Amy, “and we’re lucky to have him, too.”

They continued to nurse the Yorkie, giving him seven different medications for his various ailments. He thrived on their attentions. In seven months, his coat has grown enough to get a “Florida haircut.” He has a complete doggie wardrobe and goes everywhere with them, except when they leave “to do human things,” said Amy. They’re grateful to restaurants that allow dogs in outdoor seating, because Lucky looks forward to accompanying them to dinner. He’s a good natured little dog and holds no grudge against humans. Strangers are drawn to him, and he never shies away from a pat on the head. Although he has no teeth, Lucky hasn’t lost his appetite and has kept his four-pound weight on a diet of soft dog food. “He loves to eat,” said Amy. “Good love and good food go a long way.”

“We are so thankful for people like the Kauffmans who give these little lost souls a happy second life for however long it may be,” said Chapman.

Most of these pets have come from loving family homes, she said, and make wonderful additions to most households. “The dogs and cats are so grateful for having a new family to truly love and be loved,” she said. “You can see it in their eyes.”

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Take Your Dog To Work Day is an annual event created by Pet Sitters International, an educational organization representing over 8,000 professional pet sitters. Visit www.takeyourdog.com to learn how to celebrate this special

day with Man’s best friend.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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