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Happy Tail: Two stories converge at one puppy


About nine years ago, Judith Navratil’s dog, Snoop, died. Six months later the Pittsburgh woman began thinking about adopting another dog and began to look on Petfinder. A litter of puppies that had been abandoned at a shelter in West Virginia caught her attention.

Lolita was the oddball of the litter.

Lolita was the oddball of the litter.

“I fell in love with the picture of the oddball of the litter,” she says. “All the rest looked like little brown Beagle pups, but my sweetie was the biggest of the group, white with black spots.”

The pups were no longer in West Virginia. They were now at Augie’s Doggies, a rescue group in Pittsburgh. Augusta DeLisi, then 15 and founder of the rescue, had been saving dogs since she was 12. At that time she, like Judith, had been browsing on Petfinder when a photo of some puppies in West Virginia that were about to be euthanized caught her attention. She was determined to do something.

“I contacted eight different shelters in my area to see if they would take puppies if I went down and got them,” she said. “One said they had room.”

She talked her dad into taking her to pick up the puppies. “We only had one cage, so we had dogs jumping all over us in our van,” she said.

She continued to rescue dogs, and when she was 15, she joined Petfinder and began listing her rescued pups on the website, where Judith saw the black-and-white one, now named Lolita.

That was nine years ago. Today, Lolita is being treated for Cushing’s disease. “She has slowed down a bit,” says Judith. “In her youth she was the most athletic dog! She had agility training and was always the fastest pup in the dog park.”

Still, Judith is looking forward to many more years of companionship with her “sweet baby.”

As for Augusta DeLisi—she has moved to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, with her family and is still rescuing dogs. “I call my UAE extension of Augie’s Doggies, Abu Doggies.” In February she was honored in the 2015 Unite4: Humanity Awards at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles for her work in animal rescue.

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