Bonita Springs — Barbara Garzelloni of Bonita Springs was talking with a friend about birds with no thought of dogs at all. Her friend had large pit bulls; but floundering around their legs, fighting for a scrap of food too big for a puppy, was a tiny little black puppy that had been “dropped off” by someone who did not want her. She was pretty much fending for herself and not very well.
“I just spontaneously picked her up and told my friend I was taking her home,” said Garzelloni.
Zena was a little malnourished at first from being fed adult food; Garzelloni had to figure out the needs of a puppy on the run. She was totally unprepared; but she knew puppy food was on the list. She did not even know the breed. She just understood the 7-week old puppy was in trouble and her responsibility. Today, Zena, “the warrior dog” is a charcoal miniature poodle who weighs all of three pounds and warns the garbage man with ferocious barks that are harmless; she is all love. She practically house broke herself and proved to be just the right “first dog” companion for Garzelloni.
Garzelloni decided Zena needed a friend. She didn’t consult Zena, so there were some hurdles to overcome at first. Zena accompanied Garzelloni on the ride to Melbourne, Fla. to visit the chosen “new friend,” a rescue dog at Coastal Poodle Rescue. Garzelloni surfed the web looking for more information about poodles and found the site. Coastal Poodle Rescue is adamant that the abused and abandoned poodles they rescue find loving homes, not just any home. The dogs must be adopted in Florida because home visits are required. Zena and Garzelloni passed the visit test in Melbourne and the home visit in Bonita Springs. Coastal Poodle Rescue interviewed references, the dog groomer, the vet and neighbors. One neighbor said, “I want to be her dog!” All the rescue poodles listed on the Internet had cute names and little stories. Riley was “Adonis,” perhaps, in fun, because he is a little out of proportion for a miniature poodle, a little gangly.
Riley was abandoned by a family whose home was foreclosed. He immediately became Garzelloni’s constant companion, her “Velcro dog.” He had a few eating issues for which she brought in a dog trainer from Canine Command who helped fix the situation. Today, Riley waits patiently for food instead of putting up a wail or scratching at the cupboards. Sometimes, though, he puts on a show if he’s tired of waiting, running across the floor on his hind legs, carrying a ball that he throws in the air and catches himself.
Though they had initial jealousy issues, Riley and Zena have become best friends and best companions to Garzelloni who is currently cutting working hours in anticipation of retirement and more time with her precious companions.
“I love the dogs so much; I’ll never again be without a dog in my life, and it will always be a rescue dog,” Garzelloni said. “They just love you the way you are.”