2018-10-03 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

I am not a fan of high school reunions, but I love dog reunions. That’s why the annual Last Hope Animal Rescue Barbecue is my favorite rescue event of the year. The best part is seeing the adopted dogs, now healthy and happy, returning to visit with their families, especially those who came into rescue emaciated, neglected, abused or in dire straits. This year a hero dog was guest of honor.

Last Hope holds an annual barbecue at our Adoption Center in Wantagh inviting volunteers, adopters and their families. We encourage adopters to bring their Last Hope alumni dogs. The parking lot is the BBQ setting so it’s not safe or secure for the adopted kitties. Cats prefer to send their pet parents to the festivities, while they stay home.

We moved the 2018 barbecue from the usual August date to September 29 because it was so hot and humid all summer. We kept our beach theme and dog swimsuit contest even though it was after Labor Day, when life guards are traditionally off duty. We didn’t expect any dog drowning danger with a Tommy Turtle-type pool filled with beach balls and lots of people standing around.


Ginger poses with owner Richard Engel after being proclaimed a hero dog at the Last Hope BBQ. Ginger poses with owner Richard Engel after being proclaimed a hero dog at the Last Hope BBQ. BBQ Guest of Honor: Last Hope honored a hero dog at the barbecue. For the first time in Last Hope’s 37 year history, we got a call in August on the hotline from the Engel family asking for help because their 10-year-old Beagle mix Ginger found two infant kittens in the back of their Copiague yard, which is adjacent to a wooded lot. She carefully carried each kitten to the back door as if they were her own offspring.

Ginger became maternal and tried to wash them but the kittens were very hungry and kept crying loudly. Her family held onto Ginger’s adopted babies several days but realized they needed help nurturing such young kittens because they weren’t eating from a dish yet.


Ginger tends to the 2 infant kittens she rescued. Ginger tends to the 2 infant kittens she rescued. These two babies are quite unusual. The kittens, Mutt and Jeff, have gray-white fuzz over their black fur. It’s like a mantle that comes to a point on the kitten’s forehead as if he is wearing a werewolf costume. When found, Mutt and Jeff weighed 12 ounces each and were about two weeks old.

This wasn’t the first time Ginger was a feline lifesaver. Five years ago, she rescued a tiny, dehydrated gray kitten that wobbled into the yard. He became the family cat Frankie named after the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi.

Frankie was curious about Mutt and Jeff. He’d go over to them to investigate but as soon as they screamed, Frankie would run away from the loud mouths. Doubt if the real St. Francis would be such a scaredy cat.


The Babylon Shelter’s new address is 80 New Highway, Amityville. The Babylon Shelter’s new address is 80 New Highway, Amityville. Mutt and Jeff went to Last Hope cat coordinator Aunt Doreen who has bottle-fed many kittens. These two ran every pet and person in her household ragged. Mutt and Jeff seem to be hyperactive kittens that scheme as a team, and can get lost in a small hiding place in a second. They scared her adult cats so Frankie was not the only cat coward. The tiny brothers worried Natasha, Doreen’s Irish Wolfhound mix who loves to act as nanny to bottle babies. These two would not stay still so Natasha could wash and care for them.

After awhile we began to wonder if the kittens survived as infants in the lot because they had boundless energy and powerful meows, or did their mother cat abandon them because they were such noisy hooligans. Ginger was invited to the barbecue as an Honorary Last Hope Volunteer and Hero Dog. She brought her mom, Marilyn, her big brother, Richard, and her godmother. She enjoyed herself and made sure she ate a hamburger and hot dog. At the presentation, Ginger received a crown; two stuffed, black kitten squeaky toys to take the place of the babies she gave to Last Hope; a Petsmart gift card and a framed certificate that read: “Last Hope Animal Rescue Proclaims Ginger Engel - Beagle Mix- to be a Hero Dog For Finding and Saving the Lives of Two Infant Kittens in Copiague, NY” which was dated and signed by the Last Hope president and dog coordinator.

Ginger also posed for photos wearing a Dog Writers medallion (playing the part of a life-saving medal). She was gracious and impressed, yet far more impressed with her hamburger and hot dog. Next project is for her family to monitor the movements of Mutt and Jeff’s real mom so she can be trapped and spayed. This way Ginger can retire from the kitten lifesaving business. Two Happenings:

*Last Hope Low Cost Vaccine Clinic- Sun., Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Last Hope Adoption Center, 3300 Beltagh Ave, Wantagh. Open to all Long Island owners of dogs and cats. No appointment necessary. If possible, bring paperwork for prior shots. Dogs must be on leashes and cats in carriers. Dog/Cat Rabies – $10; Canine or Feline Distemper – $15; Bordetella – $15 (For Kennel Cough).

*New Babylon Shelter Moving Day- The current shelter was closed Mon., October 1 while the dogs and cats were moved to the new shelter. Grand opening ceremonies are still a few weeks away while the staff unpacks, organizes and fine tunes routines at the new address- 80 New Highway, Amityville 11701.

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