Memory of beloved pet inspires woman’s animal shelter drive

Tabitha's late pet Dexter, who inspired her to begin a drive for the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter.

Tabatha Guasp’s faithful dog Dexter was always by her side to ease her during some of the most difficult times of her life. That made his tragic loss last year all the more difficult to overcome, and Guasp admits it still takes an emotional toll.

Recently, she made the decision to channel those emotions into creating something good.

In Dexter’s memory, Guasp has begun a donation drive for the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter, collecting various items and monetary donations to assist the shelter as it cares for so many animals.

“(Dexter) was adopted too, from a rescue,” said Guasp. “So the whole thing, to give back in his name, would be great … I’ve been grieving him a lot lately. The anniversary of his death is coming up and I’ve been looking to pull out of it. So for other dogs who have been picked up, strays, dogs who were surrendered as well, if I can help them have a merrier Christmas, I’ll know something good came from it. Maybe that (his death) didn’t come in vain.”

The circumstances around Dexter’s death are still unclear, Guasp said, nearly a year later.

On Christmas day of 2022 Guasp let her dog Dexter out in her Kenner backyard, a backyard that was new to everyone since the family had recently moved in. Later, when she went outside to check on him, she could not find him and believed he had to be hiding somewhere.

That wasn’t the case – Dexter had gotten out of the yard. Guasp said she and family members walked around the neighborhood, but Dexter was not found. When she was home again Guasp said her godchild found a hole in the fence where Dexter must have crawled out of.

One day later, she received a phone call from the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter. The news was not good: Dexter had been struck by a vehicle and the injuries were fatal.

Guasp said she is thankful that someone found Dexter and brought him in to the shelter so that she could be notified, but also that she and her family were baffled on how Dexter – a 13-year-old deaf dog with arthritis, bad eyesight and only one eye – was found 17 miles from his home in St. Rose.

“We never got closure,” said Guasp. “We never figured out why he got where he got to. Nobody came forward and honestly, I didn’t expect anyone to because (if someone hit Dexter) I don’t think anyone would want to admit that.”

Among the items Guasp is collecting for the shelter are canned Friskies pate cat food, canned dog food, peanut butter, milk bones, cat treats, pill pockets, small blankets and small cat toys. Monetary donations can be given via Venmo (@TRIP_4) or in the form of a check written to Turning Rescues Into Pets (T.R.I.P), a local non-profit organization that supports the animal shelter. Checks or donation items can be dropped off to the shelter or mailed to 921 Deputy Jeff G Watson Drive Luling, LA 70070.

Guasp said Dexter was a steady, loving companion that helped her get through a divorce and also as her mother battled cancer.

Guasp fondly remembers the day she adopted Dexter.

“He was a senior dog. His previous owner wrote a beautiful note … they couldn’t keep him, they’d fallen on hard times,” said Guasp. “Their little granddaughter was allergic and they wanted him to go to a good home. Once I saw his picture online, I knew he’d be coming home with me. We drove there first thing in the morning and once I saw him I knew I wasn’t leaving without that dog – he was so cute, so silly and so full of energy. For an old man, he was just so full of energy.”

Guasp said Dexter could make anyone laugh, whether they were an animal person or not.

“He liked to talk at you,” Guasp said. “I felt like he’d live forever, even though I knew he wouldn’t. He was just a big ball of happiness.”

She hopes this drive will help with the closure she’s been missing.

“Maybe it’s a way to close the chapter on a good note,” she said. “Helping other animals get what they need and make something really terrible into something better.”

 

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