Something to be thankful for: Newt’s Nook

NewtsNook2Newt’s Nook is open for business, and just in time for Thanksgiving

The heated, air-conditioned facility at the Animal Guardians sanctuary in Texas, named for former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, provides a safe, healthy environment for injured rescue dogs, particularly pit bulls, to recuperate until they are adopted.

“We’re thrilled to help such a worthy project,” said Dawn Rizos, owner of The Lodge gentlemen’s club in Dallas, who funded the shelter after Gingrich rejected her donation to his political organization. “I wish Newt were here to see these wonderful dogs and know that we’re giving them a chance for happier lives.”

Staff members of the Lodge and Animal Guardians teamed up for a dedication ceremony this week, hanging a large “Newt’s Nook” sign on the building and welcoming dogs to the new facility. The sign, created by Lodge bartender Bryan Calloway, features a caricature of a smiling Gingrich and a friendly pit bull.

The idea for the shelter stemmed from an Entrepreneur of the Year Award that Gingrich bestowed on Rizos, then rescinded. In September Gingrich’s organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, invited Rizos to receive the honor from him at a private dinner in Washington on October 7. A week before the dinner, upon learning The Lodge was a gentlemen’s club, Gingrich’s organization said there had been a mix-up and told Rizos not to attend. He refunded the $5,000 she had mailed in to attend the dinner, and Rizos used that amount to pay for construction of the shelter.

“… We were disappointed to suddenly be rejected,” Rizos said. “But instead of holding a grudge, we decided to make something positive out of his bad manners.”

“I can’t tell you how much this new building means to us,” said Annette Lambert, director of Animal Guardians, located 40 miles north of Dallas. The rescue organization cares for more than 100 dogs at its sanctuary.

Rizos announced that The Lodge would donate an additional $100 to Animal Guardians for every dog adopted from the facility through Valentine’s Day 2010, and give each adopter a gift certificate to The Lodge or, if that environment is not to their liking, Stratos Global Greek Taverna, a popular Dallas restaurant.

(Photo: Lodge VIP Manager Sunny Hunter with Animal Guardians rescue dogs outside the new Newt’s Nook rescue building; courtesy of Mike Precker)

John Woestendiek

John Woestendiek is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of "Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man's Best Friend."