By Sharon Gittleman
ROYAL OAK – Rick Latimore’s dachshunds knew who was the boss.
“The smallest one, Zimmer was the queen of the house. She ruled over the big dog, Arthur. He was a very lovable giant puppy,” said Latimore, about his shepherd/collie mix. “He loved to sleep in bed with you, which meant you slept on the edge.”
Latimore’s other dachshund had her share of charm.
“Gretchen was the lady,” he said.
He lost all three dogs in one year, not so long ago.
He’s come to terms with his pets’ death.
“You get to show them a great life,” he said.
Latimore was just one of the dog and cat fans who came to the Royal Oak Animal Shelter fundraiser held at Pronto! on St. Patrick’s Day. The restaurant’s owners donated 10 percent of their profits last Saturday to help the volunteer-staffed canine and feline haven.
Some visitors dropped off toys and treats for the animals living at the shelter.
A hefty box of dog biscuits was piled on the floor near the restaurant’s entrance next to containers of kitty litter and a parcel filled with cat food tucked in a Nordstrom’s shopping bag.
“Someone brought a truck up and dropped off $400 worth of Dog Chow and Tidy Cat,” said Pronto! staffer Ron Uhouse.
Uhouse ducked the question of whether he was a dog fan.
“No comment,” he said, smiling.
He still got into the spirit of the gathering.
“I support the Royal Oak Animal Shelter,” he said.
The 5-year-old event brought in $5,000 in 2006, said Pronto! co-owner Bill Thomas. He helped found the fundraiser after city budget cuts left the shelter without money for the homeless creatures.
“We saw the need because the shelter animals don’t have a voice,” said Thomas. “We saw it as an opportunity to step up to the plate.”
Last year’s donors dropped off enough pet food to last six months, he said.
Thomas hopes to add a little extra comfort to the shelter pets’ lives.
“Our goal this year is to get air conditioning,” he said. “We’re guessing it will cost $9,000.”
Lately, strays have filled the no-kill shelter, Thomas said.
“The economy is tight,” he said. “There isn’t enough money to go around.”
Thomas has added three rescue dogs to his own family, including golden retrievers Buddy and Leo and Pookie, the havanese, who joined him at work when she was young.
“She became such a fixture,” he said. “The UPS guys ask, ‘where’s Pookie?'”
Fundraiser attendee David Kress remembers how his pet Lucy, a whippet/shepherd mix, behaved when he brought her home.
“She was in the cage chewing a bone like she didn’t care,” he said.
A little tender care changed her attitude.
“She loves everyone,” he said. “She thinks everyone adores her.”
Kress chose to get his best friend at a shelter.
“They don’t have a home. They are dogs that are lost and unwanted,” he said. “Why go to a breeder? Everyone needs a home.”
Kress said he planned to donate money to the shelter.
“I think it’s important to support these organizations,” he said. “Funding is difficult these days. You have to help out.”
By noon, Pronto! visitors had dropped off $250 in a donation box on a counter near the front door, said restaurant employee Shy.
She understands people’s love for dogs – especially those with personality plus.
Shy named her family’s lhaso apso Phootz, for good reason.
“If you take your shoes off, he’ll lay on top of your feet,” she said.
Phootz’s past may not have been a happy one.
“He was a rescue and someone gave him to me,” she said.
Her newly adopted dog often trembled and cried in his sleep, she said.
“He had nightmares,” said Shy.
Phootz is his new family’s champion, especially when it comes to 2-year-old Myrhon and 3-year-old Orion.
He’ll lay across the door protecting it if we’re all in one room,” she said. “If anyone gets close to my kids, he goes mad. He doesn’t like anyone near his family. He thinks, we saved him, he’ll save us.”
Deborah came to Pronto! with a table full of friends eager to help the shelter animals. She said she adopted her dog Casey Rose to keep her rescued chocolate lab Rocky company.
“I thought he needed a friend,” she said. “We all need a friend in life.”
You can help throughout the year
You can drop off shelter donations, pet food and animal treats at Pronto! throughout the year. The restaurant is located at 608 S. Washington, in Royal Oak. Book bags, mugs and t-shirts emblazoned with “Royal Oak Animal Shelter,” are available at Pronto! Corner Store, located at 600 S. Washington in Royal Oak.