It’s a dog’s life in Delaware

April 15, 2018

The invitation read: "Puppy Shower and you're invited! Joyce's new joy is an adorable Shih Tzu puppy named Mai Tai. So put on the dog and let's have a doggone good time!"

The menu: hush puppies, hot dogs and Dogfish Head beer.

Ginny was the hostess, and she believes, "Retirees can still have the sort of absurd fun we automatically had in our younger years. The day of the party dawned grey and dreary, but spirits were high. Several guests wore tuxes, while the guest of honor wore pearls."

Hostess Ginny was also laden with pearls bequeathed from her chocolate lab Molly.

The recipe for the original Mai Tai cocktail was from Trader Vic's, San Francisco, 1941, and friend Jim served as bartender.

Drinks were served in old-fashioned glasses ordered for the occasion as party favors for the guests.

Four-month-old Mai Tai, who was not quite housebroken, was not a party pooper. She stood up to the two host dogs, jumbo Labradoodles Nick and Nora.

Joyce explains, "I got a dog for all the reasons you don't want a dog: She makes me get up early and go out for a walk, rain or shine. She needs me to move beyond myself and care for her. There is always someone else to think of, to love and to enjoy."

The invitation asked that in lieu of gifts, donations should be made to the Delaware Humane Association, which has been in existence for 61 years, with its office in Wilmington.

The only satellite location opened up in September 2017, and is housed in the Midway Shopping Center in the old Beebe Thrift Shop location, which moved over a few storefronts.

DHA has adopted out more than 250 cats and dogs since opening.

All of the animals are vetted and made current on vaccines in Wilmington before coming to Rehoboth. The site welcomes visitors who want to adopt a cat or a dog.

Have you wanted to adopt an animal but are afraid of the commitment because you also love travel? Consider becoming a casual dog walker like my friend Irene, who volunteers for the DHA on a weekly basis.

Irene said, "Shelter dogs can't get enough fresh air and exercise, and so I spend most of my time outside, aiming for at least a 20-minute walk per dog.

"I know it sounds corny, but during our walks, I whisper affirmations to them. For example, what a good dog you are ... you are so pretty ... you are the best dog. Many, if not most, of these dogs have been through miserable ordeals, so the least we can do is help them feel loved and wanted."

Rehoboth site Manager Jody Rini agrees. "We have a great community of people who enjoy the experience of spending time with the animals. It's also a great reason for retirees to get outside and walk. I can never have enough casual dog walkers."

Rini makes certain not to pair a volunteer with a dog who may be high-powered, so don't worry, he says. "You'll have an enjoyable experience when you join our network of friends."

DHA partners with organizations in other states to rescue animals from kill shelters.

I recently met a sweetheart named Timone, a Catahoula leopard dog from North Carolina, who was rescued from a kill shelter. He is best friends with Maverick, a hound-Rottweiler mix from West Virginia.

Rini will also help with animals and families who have experienced the death of an owner.

If you are interested in either adoption or dog walking, contact Jody Rini at the DHA center at 302-200-7159.