SAN ANTONIO — Howard Karp was resistant to Latte at first. Six years ago, his wife, Darleen, said she wanted a dog; specifically, a toy Yorkie. Their children were grown and out of their Wesley Chapel home and, at this point, both Howard and Darleen were working full time. Why burden themselves with a puppy?
But Darleen insisted and Howard relented and Latte, a teeny honey blond, came home with them.
"She was only this big," Howard said, holding out his left palm as if he were cupping a peach. His resistance to Latte's charms melted quickly. Now, as a 60-year-old man, he stood in public with Latte's pink leash around his neck and held Latte's bag of toys bought at Paws in the Park, a festival to raise money for Spay Pasco, a nonprofit spay and neuter program. Darleen was next to him, cuddling Latte — in a pink and white dress, pink collar and a pink elastic band holding her hair out of her face. Latte has a liver disease, so she can have only limited amounts of protein. The Karps steam veggies for her and she loves blueberries.
"She's so smart," Howard Karp said proudly. "She'll wink back at you when you wink at her."
This was the Karps' first time at Paws in the Park, held Saturday in San Antonio City Park. This is the festival's fourth year.
"We just had to come and check it out," Darleen Karp said, as the event dwindled to a close in the early afternoon. Animals of all sorts were there for a blessing of the pets, agility and training shows, parades and contests.
At the CARES animal rescue tent, volunteers began to load up their belongings. They are a nonprofit rescue group in Odessa, founded last year by two women — Lisa Lewis and Sue Lambert — who went to rescue animals in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and came back shell-shocked, knowing they had to do more to help other animals.
"Hey Curley Q," Lewis said soothingly to a collie-shepherd mix that was dropped off at their booth during the festival. The CARES group brought four dogs that are up for adoption. But one person dropped off three puppies she found and another man handed over Curley Q, found on Curley Road.
"How do we come here with four dogs and end up going home with eight?" Lewis said. But she smiled. "Oh, you're a sweet girl," she said to the dog.
Lewis and Lambert still work full-time and put their own money into CARES, along with any donations.
"At night, most people are going out to dinner and a movie," Lewis said, reaching into Curley Q's cage and rubbing her head and back.
"But we're out scooping poop. And that's okay. It's worth it."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4609.