Giving back

Luling’s Yvonne Dufrene shares her love of animals with others by giving from the heart

Heather R. Breaux
April 30, 2008 at 4:08 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

FRIENDS. Yvonne Dufrene, shown at left, became friends with Herman Feist, right, after she surprised him and many of his
neighbors in Boutte Estates with pet supplies last Christmas.
Photo by Heather R. Breaux
FRIENDS. Yvonne Dufrene, shown at left, became friends with Herman Feist, right, after she surprised him and many of his neighbors in Boutte Estates with pet supplies last Christmas.
When Yvonne Dufrene of Luling spearheaded a personal gift-giving crusade to help animals throughout the parish last Christmas, she had no idea the monumental impact her kind gestures would have on the lives she touched - including her very own.

Dufrene, a self-proclaimed animal lover, says that for as long as she can remember her neighbors have always allowed her to be friendly with their animals - a fellowship she’s grateful for.

“My neighbors graciously allow their precious Datchsun named Baby to visit me and I always have treats in hand for the other animals,” said Dufrene. “And on any given day you can find me throwing birdseed out into the yard.”

“I’ve always loved animals and it gives me joy to spend time with them.”

Last December Dufrene took her generosity to the next level when she doubled as Santa Claus for pets in Boutte Estates, but says the friendships that have developed between her and the pet owners have been the greatest gifts of all.

“Around Christmas everyone is thinking about what presents to buy for friends or family members and animals are usually an afterthought,” said Dufrene.

“So I decided to help out a little by going door to door passing out supplies to those who had pets.”

And “helping out” is exactly what she did.

With bags of dog food, 2-gallon water jugs, blankets, toys and other pet-friendly necessities Dufrene made her way through the Boutte neighborhood until every accepting pet owner was tended to.

Along the way she met a man named Herman Feist - the 90-year-old keeper of a black male Chow named Bear and female wolf mix affectionately referred to as Poochie.

As the story is told, Feist’s dogs are more than just pets, they’re a reminder of his late wife, Theresa.

“I’ve had the dogs for about 10 years, said Feist. “They were given to me by my wife when they were only puppies and I’ve cherished them ever since.”

Dufrene says that she and Feist have become quick friends and has since helped him take care of the dogs.

“I’ve helped cover the cost to get the dogs spayed and neutered and helped get Poochie treated for heartworms.”

Dufrene says that Feist is a wonderful pet owner who loves his animals and points that all the help she’s given has been with his consent.

“Mr. Herman loves his animals, said Dufrene. “He even built their dog houses himself. I just wanted to help with the medical costs because I know how important his pets are to him.”

Dufrene says that Feist‘s family members have offered to reimburse her for the veterinary expenses, but she refuses to take any money.

“God has blessed me so abundantly and in so many different ways,” said Dufrene. “The friendship and wisdom that I have gained from Mr. Herman is payment enough.”

Dufrene says that Poochie was boarded at Destrehan Veterinary Hospital for nearly two months while undergoing heartworm treatment and was recently reunited with Feist.

“I picked up Poochie from Dr. Moreau’s office, where she was treated like a queen and brought her home to Mr. Herman,” said Dufrene.

“The reunion was evidence that his dogs love him just as much as he loves them. Poochie’s tail never stopped wagging.”

Feist says that he’s forever grateful for Dufrene’s friendship and can never thank her enough for what she has given.

“She gives with her whole heart,” Feist said.

View other articles written Heather R. Breaux

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