Monday, February 13, 2012

Puppy love: Local celebs discuss their tail-wagging favorites
Erik M. Lunsford
St. Louis Blues center David Backes and his dog Rosey in the Post-Dispatch studio on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, in St. Louis. Photo by Erik M. Lunsford
He loves me, he loves me not. That's something you'll never have to worry about with a dog. It's an unconditional love, more than any well-matched couple.

It starts with puppy love the first year and turns into a long-lasting romance.

Valentine's Day can be as much fun for pets as it is for humans. St. Louisans love their tail-wagging friends, and some folks have big plans for the holiday. We talked with (and interviewed via email) four local celebs, and found love is in the air this Valentine's Day.


Mayor of St. Louis; champion for the humane treatment of animals; lawyer by trade. He lives in south St. Louis with his wife, Kim, his daughter, Kate, and three rescued dogs.

Dog • Mia, 13, Yorkshire terrier

How did you meet? • Kim found Mia through the St. Louis Senior Dog Project's website. We had adopted one of our other dogs, Sophie, from the organization.

Was it puppy love at first sight? Kim was the one who brought Mia home and was the first to fall in love with her. I knew she was a keeper because she was so cute and rarely barked.

What type of dates do you go on? Mia doesn't play with toys now that she is deaf and blind, but she still loves to be petted. We also go for short walks outside.

What does the future hold? In her older age, we're making sure that she is happy and comfortable. There are very few places my wife goes without Mia.

Any special treats for your dog? Mia is on a limited diet. For the most part, her biggest treat is a belly rub and a scratch behind her ears. On occasion we give her a taste of peanut butter.

What do you have planned for Valentine's Day? I'm always on the go, so I look forward to spending the evening at home with Kim and the dogs for Valentine's Day. Kim says, "Though I love all three of my dogs, I have a soft spot for Mia. She is deaf and blind, so she requires a lot of attention, but it is very worth it."

Any other pets? Sophie, 9, a terrier mix and Riley, 12, a Maltese or Lhasa apso mix


Founder of CheresseINK, a marketing and event relations firm; contestant on the "Bachelor, Season 6."

Puppy • Kennedy, 1, black Labrador retriever

How did you meet? My boyfriend (Dan Shannon) and I first met Kennedy when my mother decided to go look at puppies at the Chesterfield Humane Society. Next thing we knew, she walked into our home with an adorable black furball that had eyes that made you melt.

Was it puppy love at first sight? I knew it was a solid love when Kennedy tore up files and papers in my office, barked at me when I'd get on my cell phone, and of course devoured a nice and expensive collection of shoes that I no longer have. I'd look at him, and his face was just so cute, I somehow couldn't be mad.

What type of dates do you go on? We both walk him as much as we can, and he has several play dates especially with his girlfriends Molly and Bridie. We joined the University City Dog Park, where Kennedy probably wishes he could live 24-7. Kennedy is also an avid traveler in our SUV and expects a few trips per week; he never takes the wheel, just the breeze from the window or a nap.

What does the future hold? I hope Purina gets to see his gorgeous face. Kennedy's not a wildcard spokesperson, and I won't mark up any agent fees. We will enjoy life to its fullest.

Any special treats for your puppy • At the store, Kennedy grabs Lite Greenies, Dingo's with creamy peanut butter, Busy Chewnola, Puppy Yogurt and calcium bones.

What do you have planned for Valentine's Day? We're heading to the U. City dog park so he can visit with his many female friends.

Any other pets? No.


Founder and (division of; host of a show on the Pet Life Radio Network called "Sassy Seniors"; weekend anchor for KSDK (Channel 5).

Dog • LaRue, 2 or 3 years old, Lhasa apso and Maltese

How did you meet? I met LaRue exactly one year ago this month. My beloved 14-year-old dog, Meeko, had recently died and my sister softly suggested that I perhaps consider a new family member. I eventually started looking on and saw an adorable Chihuahua at one of the shelters. When I visited him, he also had a brother, and they needed to be adopted together. I didn't think I was ready for two pooches and that's when they brought out LaRue.

Was it puppy love at first sight? It was love at first sight when I first saw her. She looked like a dude dog with her long beard. She was adorable, scruffy and very sick. She's such a social butterfly and simply walked over to me and found her new home in my lap. LaRue was just a day or so away from walking the green mile at the county shelter. Her eyes said it all. She was thankful, but I was even more so.

What type of dates do you go on? LaRue is my circus dog. She's a natural acrobat with all of her jumping, twirling and dashing through tables, chairs and hallways of my house. She loves walking in the park in my Lafayette Square neighborhood. Everyone is her friend, two- or four-legged. I have, on occasion, taken her to meet seniors, but she's still a bit too young and circusy. She also loves playing with her menagerie of toys. She'll also do anything for bellyrubs and massages.

What does the future hold? I can see taking her circus show on the road. If that doesn't pan out, then we'll continue to explore our fabulous city through her eyes and very heightened canine sense of smell.

Any special treats for your dog? LaRue would sell my shoe collection for a treat. Trust me, she's chewed up a few, too. I only give her healthy treats like crunchy carrots or green beans. I also work with some wonderful pet companies that send me products to test. I've grown to love Fruitables, Zukes and Wellness brands.

What do you have planned for Valentine's Day? She's my date. We'll be heading to Treats Unleashed to grab some treats and then a long walk.

Any other pets? No.


St. Louis Blues team captain; attended college at Minnesota State University-Mankato, where he studied electrical engineering and held a 4.0 GPA; with wife Kelly, supports a local no-kill animal organization Five Acres Animal Shelter in St. Charles

Dog • Rosey, 2, Shar-Pei-boxer-pit bull mix

How did you meet? Rosey was rescued from a local animal control when Five Acres was pulling dogs that were going to be euthanized the next day. They had room to save 12 dogs, and she was the 13th that they wanted to take but didn't have room. We got the call, I saw her face and I knew I had to save her from death row.

Was it puppy love at first sight? When we rescued Rosey, and I saw how small she was and how big her head was, I fell in love immediately. She came and licked my hand, and I scooped her up to bring her to the vet for an exam. This is where we found she had intestinal parasites, cracked ribs and a broken back leg. We decided to nurse her back to health, and fostering quickly turned into adopting.

What type of dates do you go on? We walk every morning for at least 30 minutes with our dogs. They love car rides and going to the dog park. Their favorite time of the year is going to the lake for boat rides and being able to roam free at the cabins in Minnesota.

What does the future hold? Years and years of companionship and shared memories together, as well as advocating for homeless animals and showing society that by adopting a pet you save a life and gain a true companion.

Any special treats for your dog? Our dogs get many treats, toys and food from Treats Unleashed, a local dog bakery.

What do you have planned for Valentine's Day? Valentine's Day for our dogs is much like all of the other holidays for them. They get to lie in their warm beds by the fire and enjoy the evening with a specially decorated treat and get as much love from my wife and I as they can handle.

Any other pets? Three other dogs: Rodney, 10, Rottweiler; Marty, 10, pit bull/Lab mix; Bebe, 11, beagle and two cats: Sunny (has one eye) and Polly (two toes short of a world record, polydactyl cat).

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