Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Fueled by really good pizza and a belief in happy endings, Deanna Cecotti has been battling on behalf of Greyhounds for 15 years. Also fascinated with WW I battlefields, she may be a fighter by nature, but this girl is "nicer than I seem."
Her love of dogs started at age four, in Fairbanks, Alaska.
“My folks decided we needed a dog, so dad and I adopted Buff, a Cocker Spaniel with a white nose and freckles. Mom said, ‘You do know he's blind in one eye, right?’ But I thought he was the swellest guy in the world and considered him my closest sibling . . . my little brother, Buff.”
Next came Cookie, a Collie, "probably the smartest in my family. Even mom, who worried relentlessly about me, would let me go ice skating if Cookie was with me."
Fast-forward to 2000, when Deanna adopted a Greyhound, and then eased into rescue.
Today her specialty is “sort of cat college,” she laughs. “Fostering and placing dogs who need some time with a cat.”
OHS alumni Louie, a big orange Tabby, educates foster dogs while constantly plotting his escape outdoors.
Countless retired racers have left pawprints in Deanna’s house, "and peed on the carpet" on their way to forever homes. She’s fostered close to 50 Greyhounds, plus “cat testing” and boarding many more. She serves on the Greyhound Pet Adoption Northwest Medical Welfare Committee and helps in other ways.
"Others do way more, commit more hours volunteering at the kennel, doing hauls and events. They deserve a spotlight more than I do," she insists. "It takes 20 or 30 people doing what I do and more to keep GPA-NW going. I'm not a star, I'm a foot soldier, and happy to be in that minor role."
Deanna’s ironic humor helps on days of pissy rugs and Houdini Louie. “I was forced to play the accordion as a child — it’s damaged me, I’m sure,” she giggles.
Retired from 35 years as Librarian and Manager at Multnomah County Library, she recalls being "summoned to the periodical room. A young woman resembling a forest elf had a squirrel with her. I explained that she should leave and come back without the squirrel, and she answered, ‘But the squirrel has nowhere else to go!’ Another time somebody was using a computer with a duck on their lap.”
For nearly four years, rain or shine, Deanna has walked dogs at Oregon Humane Society, where she's rarely sad for the pets.
“You're giving them some people time and outside time, and when you come back next week they're usually gone to a good home," she explains, in her upbeat style. "Dogs with three legs, no fur, blind puppies, they get adopted."
For reasons she can't explain, Deanna treasures a Hotei Buddha found on a property her parents bought in the 1949 Seattle area.
“Besides some bills, this is one thing I got when my mom passed. She always wanted to spray-paint him gold, because then she wouldn’t be able to see his tits. I spent my childhood stopping her."
The shoes that are so Deanna? “My Keens slippers. Not my ballet slippers or my high heels or little red do-me pumps, but comfortable slippers."
Sadly, she's outgrown the awesome red cowgirl boots she got in exchange for taking wretched cough syrup as a girl.
Deanna doesn't criticize greyhound racing.
"In their own way, they ensure they get the dogs to us to find good homes," she says. "That’s all we can hope for. Many who raise or train them really care about the dogs."
Because the Multnomah Greyhound Track closed, “We get racing dogs from Kansas, Arizona, and sometimes Florida. Volunteers drive trucks pulling big trailers on marathon trips and sleep in shifts in the backseat of a pickup for days to get them to us."
Deanna's white with brindle senior hound, Birdie, big 82-lb brindle boy Rosso, and black (going grey) Apple complete her pack. Plus foster(s) du jour.
On a recent Audubon trip, someone said “I don’t want to be offensive, but I heard Greyhounds aren’t very bright.”
"I told her, my dog Apple will get up during the night and go 'woo woo woo' like somebody is at the door to get the other dogs stirred up, just so she can have their spot on the sofa or wherever. To me, that’s pretty clever . . . of course she's a complete couch and bed whore."
Deanna's heart is covered with pawprints.
“Greyhounds are solid, sweet, kind, and gentle,” she says with a twinkle. “Then there’s a little bit of a fool in there. What's not to love?”
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals and their humans. She and hubby Herb compete for space on the couch with three big RagaMuffin cats, two retired racing greyhounds and one slightly neurotic foster greyhound -- who never wants to leave. Ever.
UPDATE: Slightly neurotic foster greyhound / failed foster number three. Never has to leave. Ever.