Sweetie’s happy tale

In March a scruffy little puppy
found her way to the Cayman Islands Humane Society. That same dog, Sweetie, is
now on her way to Pittsburgh after being adopted by guests at The Ritz-Carlton
Grand Cayman.

Around the same time Sweetie
arrived at the Humane Society, the Ritz-Carlton started a programme dubbed
Doggy’s Day Out, which involved dogs from the Humane Society being hosted at
the Ritz-Carlton two days per week.

According to Marcus Caudill,
housekeeping manager at the Ritz-Carlton and the man behind the programme, the
idea was to allow guests to interact with the Humane Society. Rather than
taking guests to the Humane Society Shelter to walk the dogs there, they came
up with the idea of hosting Humane Society dogs at the Ritz-Carlton.

“We decided the best way was to
build a little dog area here and Omar and Jason and everybody at the Humane
Society were gung-ho about bringing the dogs here. We have the guests sign up
and they donate $25 per walk to the Humane Society. It gives some of the dogs
some more interaction with the guests and they have the ability to get outside
and just hang out here and enjoy it,” said Mr. Caudill.

According to Mr. Caudill, the
response from the guests has been amazing, with many guests donating more than

“In our busy season every slot is
full. One guest, the first day we did it actually, handed me a cheque for
$1,000,” he said.

Many guests visiting the resort
miss their pets and hosting the dogs there provides the guests with an
opportunity to interact with them.

“We’ve had a lot of guests come
down and say ‘I just want to hang out with them for a couple of minutes’ and a
couple of people actually have cats at home so they say ‘Hey, what a good
opportunity to give our girls an opportunity to hang out with a dog’,” said Mr.

For the Humane Society, the
initiative has been a great boost.

“It’s not only a monetary donation,
it’s great for the interaction for their guests and it works for the dogs as
well, and now this dog will have a permanent loving home,” said Carolyn Parker,
president of the Cayman Islands Humane Society.

Although Sweetie is the first dog
to be adopted by a guest at the resort, a number of the other dogs involved in
the programme in the past have found homes either on Island or through transfer
to facilities in the United States.

“We have a replacement dog for
Sweetie in the mill, because they get trained before they come to do this. They
go through the beach training, working with Kenneth Morgan, the dog trainer, so
that they have some skills before they come over here. But it gets them out of
the kennel and it’s really exciting for them,” according to Ms Parker.

Sweetie was adopted by the DeNinno
family from Pittsburgh, who had taken her for a walk while they were guests at
the Ritz-Carlton. Shortly after their stay, the Humane Society was contacted by
the family with a request to adopt Sweetie, and after the Ritz-Carlton checked
their records, they found that the family had walked Sweetie during their stay.

“We’re flying her to JFK on the
Cayman Airways direct flight and they’re driving from Pittsburgh to pick her up
and then they’ll drive back home. They’re going way out of their way just to
come pick up Sweetie,” said Ms Parker.

According to Ms Parker, Cayman
Airways has been instrumental in helping the Humane Society get Sweetie to her
new owners, flying her there for free.

The DeNinno family will drive
almost 400 miles from Pittsburgh to pick up Sweetie in New York. For Sweetie,
this will avoid transfer onto another flight, and of course a 400-mile drive
provides plenty of time for bonding with her new family.

Not only does Sweetie’s departure
make a small dent in the number of dogs at the Humane Society looking for a
home, but the DeNinno family also gave the Humane Society a $500 donation for
Sweetie’s adoption, which will help the Humane Society care for the other
animals remaining at the shelter.

Although Sweetie’s story has a
tail-wagging ending, there are many other dogs and cats at the Humane Society
shelter on North Sound Road looking for a home. For more information or to
volunteer, contact the Humane Society at 949-1461.


Sweetie tries to eat her adoption certificate.
Photo: Eugene Bonthuys

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