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Kelly Luker

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Pumpkin, Little Pup Lodge’s guest here on scholarship (a foster), shows no sign of graduating to her Forever Family anytime soon. Yes, she’s rather mature and yes, she has the mildest tad of a seizure disorder, but c’mon! She’s freakin’ adorable and quite mellow, that latter quality sometimes in short supply for the Chihuahua breed.

It was time to put Pumpkin’s sales and marketing team into overdrive. That team being me, I put chin in hand and stared off into space waiting for a brilliant idea to strike. Many weeks of chin, hand and space later it hit: let the world know it just how adorable Pumpkin is. Admittedly, she has had just the tiniest struggle with her weight, earning her the nickname “Plumpkin,” but is not that pesky muffin-top the bête noir of us older gals?

I needed professional help and did not have far to seek. A mutual friend had introduced me earlier to Anastasia Torres-Gil, the designer behind, who makes fabulous doggy clothes and accessories out of recycled designer duds. Think: Prada, CBGB, Versace and Louis Vuitton. Anastasia and her business will be huge some day, I have no doubt. But she’s putting her heart into helping homeless dogs right now instead of trying to make her first million. To that end she and photographer Portia Shao of visit the SPCA about once a month to dress and take glamour shots of shelter dogs. When Anastasia showed me some of the results, I started posting a different photo on my Facebook every few days. Between her designs and Portia’s amazing eye, the photos are downright bewitching.

Both agreed to let Pumpkin and me crash one of these photo shoots. She was a bit nervous, as many first-time models are. But admit it, is she star material or what? I will now wait for the hordes to come begging to adopt her, and I will be extremely choosy. Only the best for my princess.

*All photos courtesy of
*All outfits courtesy of
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Play (Braille) Ball

Molly first visited about a year ago. A sweet and gentle poodle, she had a couple of problems; a tad of incontinence and failing eyesight. She loved to retrieve tennis balls though she had a hard time figuring out where we threw them.

A year later Molly’s incontinence got better, but her eyesight is virtually gone. She still loves retrieving balls so I’ll aim for her foot and slowly roll one towards her. Once she feels it she pushes it back towards me with her nose. When I roll one and miss, Molly wildly sniffs the ground around her to find it. If it’s more than 3 feet away, chances are she won’t. Wanting to help, I’ll quickly retrieve the ball myself and bring it back so she will not get frustrated.

Yesterday a couple of my other hotel guests wanted to play fetch so I pitched the ball across the enclosed softball field we visit and watched as they raced to get it. I looked over at Molly to see if she was upset that I had directed the ball somewhere else. But Molly was already barreling across the field, clearly convinced she might get the ball before the other two. No matter that she was headed in the wrong direction.

It seemed that Molly was not the one who was frustrated. She was having fun. The game was about the game, not the outcome of the game. Yet another Zen lesson from our four-footed gurus.
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