Dogs join owners at pet adoption fundraiser
A pink flower pinned to her shaggy black and white coat, Daisy did her best to mellow out beneath a wrought iron table at the PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar on Monday.
The Old English sheepdog played catch in the park before making her way to the back patio that overlooks the serene Guadalupe River.
She was just one of about 100 pooches wagging their tails and intertwining their leashes as part of a fundraiser for Adopt-a-Pet's low cost spay and neuter program.
The event - now in its fourth year - invites Crossroads residents to dine with their dogs.
Retiree Dian Johnson, of Victoria, also donned pink. She kept a firm grip on Daisy's pearl-beaded leash, lest she get too excited or, worse, forget she's not a lap dog.
"This is her going out leash," Johnson said, smiling. "She just wants to love on everyone. She doesn't know a stranger."
Daisy's size wasn't an issue as soon as Dozer, a 220- to 230-pound English mastiff walked onto the property.
Owned by Gail McDonald, of Ganado, an instructor at the Victoria Dog Obedience Club, Dozer happily let youngsters collect around him lift his paw to measure it in their hands.
"He's put on a little winter weight," McDonald said about just one of the seven dogs she has opened her home to.
The 4-year-old mastiff was on his best behavior, she said, because that's all he's ever known. He's a certified therapy dog and just made a trip to visit senior citizens in Ganado.
"He's just a big baby, a big body pillow," she said.
And volunteers spoiled him with treats every chance they could.
"Will he inhale my hand?" one server asked, chuckling as Dozer looked up at a food container with puppy dog eyes.
Irene Henrichs, 52, of Victoria who works in education, meanwhile, comforted her leopard shepherd lab, Lola Faye, who was cowering in fear upon the mastiff's arrival.
Henrichs adopted Lola Faye five years ago after her old dog died.
"I was so depressed, and when I walked in, she was the only one that just flopped down like, 'She isn't going to take me,'" Henrichs said, adjusting the dog's matching leopard-print scarf. "She also has a mean bark."
But Henrichs said she couldn't blame Lola Faye for falling behind on her security dog duties when the only threat she deals with on a regular basis is two-legged or carrying the day's mail.
Jaylia, a 3-month-old Chihuahua, also had some adjusting to do. She sat, shaking in a 7-year-old's lap as a black lab gave her a once over. The dog's owners, Rudy De Los Santos, who volunteers at Adopt-a-Pet twice a week, and his wife, Estella, of Victoria, looked on while awaiting a meal of panko-crusted fried shrimp or chicken, shrimp pasta or meatloaf with scallop potatoes.
"This is just so neat, but honestly, I don't care what I eat. I'm not here for the food. I'm here for the fundraiser," Estella said.
Renee Wheeler, Adopt-a-Pet director, said the PumpHouse was the perfect venue for such an event.
"It's just two parts coming together," she said of the restaurant's animal-loving owners. "In the past, we've been stuck in parking lots. This just feels like it was meant to be."
Last year, the organization garnered $5,000. Wheeler said she hoped to exceed that.
Karen Klinkerman, a Victoria veterinarian who has worked at the Houston Highway facility for the past 12 years, said the money goes toward maintaining equipment, purchasing medicine and providing people with vouchers for services elsewhere when the lines get too long.
She said getting an animal spayed and neutered also helps prevent reproductive infections.
"Everyone always thinks, 'It won't happen to my dog,'" Klinkerman said. "This really helps us out a lot."