Pets are often considered to be a big part of families, which is why the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin invites pets and their owners to stay and vacation together at the beautiful beaches of South Walton, Florida. To honor these furry family members, the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin created a Pet of the Month contest on Facebook. This summer, one winner was a sweet and spunky dachshund named Odie, who was rescued by Jim Sheppard from the Atlanta-based DREAM Dachshund Rescue Organization. Upon hearing that Odie was named Pet of the Month, Jim decided to donate $250 to the DREAM Dachshund Rescue and the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin offered to match the funds.
“This is a prime example of why the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin began the Pet of the Month program – to create a sense of community among pet-owning guests and contribute to the goodwill of animals,” said John Sallman, General Manager of the Residence Inn Sandestin at Grand Boulevard.
Life-long dachshund lovers, Jim Sheppard and his wife, Nancy, adopted their first dachshund back in 2000 and named her Daisy. To say the least, Daisy was extra special to Jim and Nancy because not only was she their first, but she had been with them since birth. A few years later, they rescued two other dachshunds – Molly in 2003 and Max in 2004. Both Molly and Max were older dogs when they were rescued, so the Sheppards never knew their actual ages. Molly passed away in 2012, and Max in early 2014, which left the Sheppards with their original dachshund – sweet little Daisy. However, in March 2014, they suddenly lost Daisy due to aspiration pneumonia, and, devastated, the Sheppards decided they would not have any more dogs for a while. But then they heard about DREAM.
The Sheppards knew about DREAM, but up until this point, they had never adopted from them. They began searching their website and found two possible dachshunds – a Longhair Red and a Silver Dapple. They met the Longhair Red, Lilly, on a Saturday and decided to adopt her. Prior to adopting Lilly, the Sheppards had already set up an interview to meet Odie and decided to go forward with those plans. And while they didn’t have intentions of adopting a second dog so soon, as soon as they met him, they knew they had to have him. The energetic little pup, Odie, was one year old when the Sheppards adopted him in 2014, and even now at four years old, Odie is just as energetic and full of personality. He loves to chase his ball and will play fetch for hours if he could.
This summer, the Sheppards were on their way to a week-long vacation at a house on 30A, but were unable to check-in to the house until the following day. A slight detour to the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin would lead to a much bigger impact for the organization that brought Odie and the Sheppards together. As Jim and Odie were walking through the lobby, the front desk agent asked if she could take a picture of Odie for the Pet of the Month contest. When the contest went live on the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin’s Facebook page, Jim shared it with the DREAM foundation and everyone jumped in to support Odie.
When Odie won, the Sheppards gave the $25 PetSmart gift card to DREAM Dachshund Rescue to honor Odie as well as an additional donation of $250. When the Sheppards told the Residence Inn team about their donation, the entire staff decided to match it.
“The effect of one trip through the lobby with Odie at your hotel produced a nice donation and a gift card for the organization where we adopted Odie! Doing adoption right is expensive and I know the donation means a lot to DREAM,” says Odie’s owner, Jim Sheppard.
DREAM (Dachshund Rescue, Education, Awareness and Mentoring) first began back in 2002 as an Atlanta division of a larger, national dachshund rescue organization. From the beginning, the DREAM team knew they wanted to focus much more locally due to the huge pet over-population problem in the southeast, and especially in Georgia. DREAM spun off into its own organization in 2005, and their focus was (and still is) to make a big impact in a small community. DREAM Dachshund Rescue is an all-volunteer organization and their fosters, volunteers, supporters, transporters, vet team, and everyone else involved are the life blood of the organization, committed to helping as many dachshunds and dachshund mixes as possible from metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Not only does DREAM focus on rescue efforts, but they also believe in working just as hard on education, awareness, and mentoring so that they can help many of these dogs stay in their original homes.
Since adopting from DREAM, the Sheppard’s have continued to support DREAM over the years by volunteering at their Howl-O-Weenie fundraiser and donating to their veterinary care fund. DREAM happily considers the Sheppards a lovely part of their ever-growing DREAM family.
“We had no idea that a simple act would generate the fabulous and generous donations from both the Sheppards as well as the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin. We are extremely thankful and beyond words to fully express our appreciation. All donations go straight to our veterinary care fun, where we continue to help more dogs in need,” said Kim Hembree, President of the DREAM Board of Directors.
Over the past 10 years, the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin, an extended-stay hotel featuring 119 suites, has been honored to welcome guests and their four-legged family members for relaxing beach vacations. The Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin’s Pet of the Month winner is determined each month on the Residence Inn Sandestin at Grand Boulevard’s Facebook page based on the number of ‘likes’ each photo receives. Each month’s winner receives a $25 gift card to PetSmart, a personalized certificate, and a chance to be entered into the Pet of the Year contest
Recently celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin has continued to deliver unparalleled customer service and community outreach. The Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin is a proud inductee into TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame, which honors hotels that have received a review-based Certificate of
Excellence five years in a row. The hotel is conveniently located in Grand Boulevard, a shop, dine, play and stay Town Center located in South Walton County of Northwest Florida. Residence Inn guests are only steps away from the Grand Boulevard Town Center’s amenities, including casual and fine dining restaurants, shops, arts and entertainment events, Grand Park and the Boulevard 10 Movie Theater. For more information, visit www.marriott.com/vpsri and www.grandboulevard.com.
About Howard Hospitality
Based in Miramar Beach, FL, Howard Hospitality, a division of Howard Group, is a small hotel management company with big ideas. Howard Hospitality was founded and began managing the Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard in 2012. Since beginning management of these two Marriott hotels, the properties have won four Platinum Circle Awards, a Gold Circle Award, and a Silver Circle Award for Overall Guest Satisfaction from Marriott International, Inc. The hotels have also won awards for excellence in Check-In Experience, Food & Beverage Quality, Breakfast Satisfaction, Breakfast Area Neatness, and Marriott Rewards Elite Member Appreciation. With a dedication to community enrichment, Howard Hospitality is proud to be a sponsor of the recently opened Full Circle Kitchen at Food For Thought Outreach. Committed to bettering our area, Howard Hospitality also proudly partners with other local organizations such as Sacred Heart, Alaqua Animal Refuge, the Cultural Arts Alliance, and the Emerald Coast Theatre Company. For more information, please visit www.howardhsp.com.
About DREAM Dachshund Rescue
DREAM (Dachshund Rescue, Education, Awareness and Mentoring) is a rescue organization for dachshunds and dachshund mixes in the Atlanta, North Georgia and Savannah areas. DREAM rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes dachshunds in need as well as educating the public on compassionate dog guardianship of any breed. Their mission is supported solely through donations and it is completely operated by volunteers. DREAM does not have a shelter but rather carefully selects foster homes for the rescue dogs based on that animal’s particular needs. For more information, please visit www.dreamrescue.org.