The Perfect Pair

 Photo by Joy JillThe Perfect Pairby Zandra Wolfgram

She wasn’t in the market for a husband, but when she was “fixed up” with a spunky, new best friend, Connie Lanigan was thrilled. She and Frenchie, who is known as the “social director,” had a lot in common: They were both petite, feisty and aging quite gracefully, if they do say so. Thanks to Alaqua Animal Refuge (, the retired healthcare worker from Choctaw Beach and her husband, Jim, are the happy owners of an 8-year-old Chihuahua. “She is just a stinker, but we love her,” Lanigan says.

Seniors or folks with special needs looking for a pet for service or companionship can apply for a free pet as part of the Senior Citizen/Special Needs Pet Program. If they feel they are no longer able to care for the pet, it can return to the no-kill shelter at any time. “I really feel if anyone would like to have a dog they should be able to,” Lanigan says. “Alaqua allows seniors and their pets to live out their lives together.”

Ardent animal lovers, the Lanigans confess they have gotten more from Alaqua Animal Rescue than just their furry friend. The couple volunteers much of their free time walking the rescue dogs at Alaqua. “We get a lot of exercise and have met a lot of nice people. We pretty much eat, sleep and drink animals,” Lanigan says.