PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (AP) - Friends around Provincetown were greeting her with “Hello, Dolly!” last week after probably the most famous dog on the internet this summer started settling into her new home.
Texas rescue puppy Salvador Dolly, or just Dolly, became an online, social media and TV sensation in late July because of her black-fur “mustache” that looks like the one made famous by artist Salvador Dali. After capping the adoption applications from all over the country and Canada at just over 100, Dallas-based Hearts & Bones Rescue chose partners Scott Martino and Ryan Landry, who live part of the year in Provincetown, as Dolly’s new “forever family.”
After fostering, and some confusion about another adopter, Dolly was flown through the volunteer Southwest Animal Transport Team to the organization’s team in New York City, where on Sept. 20, Landry picked up the fast-growing, now almost 3-month-old puppy.
“It was love at first sight,” said Allison Seelig, head of marketing for Hearts & Bones, who met Landry in Brooklyn with the puppy. “She is such a wonderful little pup.”
Although a surprise that night for Martino didn’t quite come off as planned, Dolly was greeted in Provincetown with a birthday party and a house full of people singing “Hello, Dolly!” (which includes the line “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong”).
“I never win anything in contests, or situations where you have to hope for luck,” Martino said as he showed off Dolly last week. “So I just kind of thought the odds aren’t really in my favor for this to happen. … When I turned the corner (to see Dolly for the first time), I thought ‘It’s really true. She’s right there.’” He soon emailed Seelig: “I’m so in love with her already!”
“We’re just so happy to have her,” Landry said.
The couple had lost their 17½-year-old dog, Rhoda, just a month before Dolly’s photo started getting famous. While rescuers just had “a good laugh” about the mustache, photos they posted eventually went viral on outlets that included social media, “Good Morning America,” People magazine, the Daily Mail newspaper in London and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”
On Instagram, a video of a Mustache Party, where the dog-rescue workers sported mustaches just like Dolly’s, got 17,386 views. (A photo last week of Landry with Dolly got close to 1,900 likes in less than a day.)
Landry had wanted to get a new dog as a sister to Violet, their 12-year-old Jack Russell terrier, who has a black heart shape on her white back. But Martino resisted.
Until he saw Dolly on Facebook. “Oh my God, that face!” he thought.
In an email to Hearts & Bones, Martino said: “I was toying with the idea of getting another puppy for us and to keep Violet company but wasn’t sure I wanted to dive in so soon … until I saw (Dolly). I think with (her) mustache and Violet’s heart, they would be a hysterical team and would be loved to the moon and back.”
The adoption process included a video interview around their house and neighborhood, wanting to show the interviewer the “calm life” they could give her and how close they lived to the beach for possible walks. Martino, though, hadn’t realized he scheduled the interview for the day of Provincetown’s Carnival parade. They had to explain why scantily clothed passersby resembled fairies and wood elves.
Interviewer Lindsey Schloss “was like ‘That’s incredible!’” Martino recounted with a laugh.
“We spoke with many wonderful people who were interested in Dolly, but Scott and Ryan stole our hearts during their virtual home visit,” said adoptions manager Schloss via email. “Their love for dogs was palpable and … once we saw their amazing community and got to know their loving spirit, we knew Dolly would have a wonderful life with Scott and Ryan.”
Schloss also mentioned the “too cute to handle” Salvador DalÍ T-shirts worn for the interview, and Landry and Martino wonder if their background as artists ended up being a factor in being chosen to adopt Dolly.
More than two decades ago, the two co-founded the Gold Dust Orphans theater troupe - largely presenting in Boston, Provincetown and New York City. They both perform (usually in drag) and handle various other duties, including Landry writing the company’s cultural satires and Martino creating costumes. Landry also leads the band Space Pussy, hosts the Showgirls talent show in Provincetown, and is a painter and Dali fan.
Dolly was one of 11 five-week-old “shepherd mutt” puppies rescued with their mom from Dallas Animal Services. Dolly was “The Mustache Puppy” in the first Facebook announcement, but soon the siblings all were named after artists, including Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. In case they didn’t get Dolly, Martino also applied to adopt Frida Kahlo - whose markings look like one long eyebrow.
The rescue service’s social-media savvy and clever names seem to be a pattern. A few of the dogs recently on the website for adoption: Carol Brady (from a “Brady Bunch” litter), Gaten Mattarazzo (from pups named for “Stranger Things” actors), and SpongeBob SquarePants (though he’s not yellow, but a black Labrador retriever).
Based on her paw size, Martino and Landry believe white, black and brown mutt Dolly will grow into a large dog. They know she’s part German shepherd, and possibly part pit bull (based on markings they call her “toupee”) but a friend works for a dog DNA-testing organization and will next month help them figure out her lineage.
“I’m going to be OK if she’s a big dog,” Martino said. “I’m looking forward to large-dog energy around the house.”
Dolly’s first week in Provincetown was spent getting comfortable with her family, including Violet, and her new home and town. While “excitable,” Martino said, “she’s been really good. I’ve got her on the leash … and she’s already walking and we took her to the beach. She sits and she stays. Dolly came to us so well-behaved and socialized, it’s very apparent that Hearts & Bones also picks very good foster families. They should be commended on what a great job they did with her.”
While some friends in Provincetown were aware of the new famous resident, the first strangers to recognize Dolly on an early walk through town were women from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. One even works at the Dollywood theme park there named for area native Dolly Parton - a favorite singer of Landry’s and Martino’s and another reason they kept the puppy’s name as Dolly.
“It’s a funny little kismet story,” Martino said. “The first people who recognize her work at Dollywood. … That’s kind of meant to be, right?”
The attention for Dolly isn’t likely to go away. On Aug. 1, Hearts & Bones put her little face on T-shirts, tank tops and tote bags to encourage puppy adoption and to raise money toward rescue and medical care.
The couple was hugely impressed by Hearts & Bones as a thorough and “get them to the right homes operation,” have stayed in touch with photos, and say they would be happy to continue having Dolly as a spokes-dog for animal rescue.
“We are so grateful for all the love Salvador Dolly has received from across the country and are thrilled to have found her the perfect forever home!” Seelig said. “There are so many dogs like Dolly all over the country just waiting for a second chance. We hope that her story inspires more people to adopt, foster and support shelters and rescue groups!”
Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodtimes.com
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