JOLIET – Tina Schmidt learned of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel luau in Joliet at the last minute, but she and her rescue Cavalier, Shelby, 8, still drove all the way from Dixon to attend.
“It’s obviously for a good cause, and I love the Cavaliers,” Schmidt said.
“They’re very sweet and affectionate, and get along with everyone – humans and dogs.”
The recent event, hosted by Karla McKanna – a volunteer with the Greater Chicago Cavalier Rescue – was a fundraiser for the rescue. Last summer, McKanna hosted another GCCR benefit party, with a “Downton Abbey” theme.
Greeting guests and accepting admission donations ($12 for adults, $5 for kids) was event co-chairwoman Marie Brestel of Aurora.
Monitoring Brestel’s actions was her 13-year-old Cavalier, Danny Boy, colorfully clothed in a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses and hat.
Brestel, as festive as Danny Boy in her yellow shirt and lei, said she generally organizes two events a month.
“We just had an influx of dogs into the rescue – about 30 to 40 – and most of them have medical issues,” Brestel said.
“We’re trying to boost the budget as much as possible.”
Lounging around McKanna’s backyard and enjoying her pool were 61 humans, 67 Cavaliers and one Havanese, McKanna said.
Most of the guests – human and canine – had dressed in clothes to match the day.
Even the food was themed – pulled chicken served on Hawaiian rolls, meatballs in pineapple sauce, Hawaiian salad and fresh fruit. Dog treats came in assorted flavors: pineapple, tuna fish, cranberry and pumpkin.
For dessert, GCCR volunteer Laura Love-Paramo of Joliet designed and baked a cake resembling a waterfall.
Love-Paramo attended with her brown and white Cavalier, Scout, and her black and white Cavalier, Oakley, a therapy dog for her 10-year-old son, Michael.
The Cavaliers feasted on banana yogurt ice cream.
Christine Johnson of Shooting the Gap photography in Joliet was hired to capture the fun.
“For every print, I donated $5 back to the rescue,” Johnson said. “It’s not about me.”
GCCR President Helen Cordell of Yorkville attributed the organization’s success to volunteers, especially with fostering and fundraising. Working with veterinarians willing to provide substantial discounts – for spays and neuters, vaccinations and unexpected medical problems – also is a blessing.
Although the event raised $1,574, an equally nice benefit of GCCR parties is that volunteers, adoptive and foster parents – with dogs in tow – all get to socialize, swap stories and reminisce, McKanna said.
“Everyone gets along,” McKanna said. “The dogs never even bark.”
For more information, visit www.gccavalierrescue.org