Colleen Mooney was born and lived much of her live in New Orleans before a job moved her to other cities. She writes a cozy mystery series she refers to as Murder Light that is set in New Orleans. It’s called The New Orleans Go Cup Chronicles and the third book, Drive Thru Murder, was released in early April.
Since January 2017 Colleen organized a Sisters In Crime chapter in New Orleans, has been elected President and has a planned a Mystery Writers’ Conference for June. She is currently working on her 4th book in the Brandy Alexander series. She is also the Director of a breed rescue group for almost fifteen years and placed over 300 unwanted or abandoned Schnauzers. In her free time, Colleen sails, goes to a lot of parades, festivals and lives with her husband and three schnauzers in New Orleans.
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The last time I moved back to New Orleans, I stayed. I volunteered to help with Schnauzer Rescue, a breed rescue group. The lady I started helping retired and now I’m the Director of a great group of four volunteers. If there wasn’t enough for me to choose what in New Orleans to write about, the people I meet in rescue are an added resource. I wrote this for our Schnauzer Newsletter when someone asked me how did I get into rescue.
My Brain on Rescue (Schnauzers)
I was the kid who spent all my allowance playing games at school fairs trying to win the gold fish, turtle, or whatever poor creature was the prize. I overheard my dad tell my mother after I brought home a sickly parakeet in a tiny cage, “Those games are rigged. Nobody ever wins. How is it she always comes home with some poor sick looking creature?”
I always won fair and square. The ping pong ball landed in the goldfish bowl or the ring tossed circled the square with a picture of the bird. I won the game and got to select which pet I wanted as my prize. I always picked the sickliest one in the tank or cage because I knew no one else would choose it. Maybe I could save it. I didn’t share this with my parents because they were already complaining they had to buy a bigger turtle bowl, a bigger cage, a bigger aquarium—a bigger creature residence. If they knew I picked a sick one they would have left it in the container I brought it home in figuring it was going to die anyway. They weren’t mean, just frugal.
Of course, once I found two baby mockingbirds that fell out of the nest and were in the grass. One was sickly and barely moving. The other one was hopping around and squawking. I put them both in a shoebox and the next morning the sick one was still alive and the one hopping around the day before was dead. The sick one lived for almost 20 years in a really big cage my dad made for it in our garage!
I didn’t get the rescue gene by accident.
My dad always brought home stray animals. He had the rescue mentality. Dad would come home from work looking all sad and say to my mother, “I saw a sad story today.” She would ask what sad story and he would proceed to tell her how some poor dog was abandoned, eating out of a garbage can, dodging traffic—whatever. She would start wringing her hands and say, “Well go get it,” and he would then tell her the dog was out in the car.
Dad found the dogs and my mother fed them and took care of them—constantly complaining. Don’t misunderstand, she loved animals, but she loved complaining a tad bit more so she was in heaven combining the two.
Growing up we had no idea why anyone would pay for a dog. We weren’t schooled in specific breeds only that dogs were were big, little, yappy, old, puppies, black, white, mean, and biting dogs. It was a total shock when I learned people paid a lot of money for some dogs (breeds) and even more money to have it vetted only to grow tired or bored with them and would give them away! They just didn’t give them away, they left them at animal shelters. The bigger shock was there wasn’t a line of people at the shelters waiting to adopt these dogs.
Rescue was a natural for me even before it was recognized. While I wish I could save them all I really sort of fell into breed rescue saving Schnauzers. I knew my limitations and at the time they were financial. Once the shelters knew I’d take a Schnauzer my name went on the underground Schnauzer Railroad. They gave my name to other shelters and to anyone who brought in a Schnauzer. Soon people would call me to take their Schnauzer they no longer wanted and didn’t want to feel bad by taking it to a shelter.
Before I became known as Schnauzer Rescue there was the first one. The one that got me involved with breed rescue was a little Schnauzer I found running along the highway. I named her Schnitzel.
If I look back at a single event that got me into rescue it was Schnitzel. I found her running on the highway on my way home. I brought her to the closest vet, which was my vet, to see if he recognized her or knew who she might belong to. I thought she was a puppy because even full grown she was only ten pounds. She was tiny and very cute.
The vet came out after his exam and said to me, “This is a sad story. She’s in heat. I hope she isn’t pregnant because she has heart worms and really bad teeth. She looks to be no more than 3 years old. She’s covered in fleas, ticks, and tapeworms and she needs a groom. Someone probably put her out on that highway either to let her get hit by a car because they didn’t want to treat the heart worms or maybe they wanted someone to find her and take care of her. I’d like to think it’s the latter but over here, it’s probably the former.”
I asked, “I’ll take her. Can you give her a bath and her shots? I’ll schedule the heart worm treatment when I come back to pick her up. What time can you have her ready to go home with me?”
“We can have her ready by 2:00 pm today, but don’t you want to go home first and talk with your husband about her?” he asked.
“I will. Just get her ready. I’ll be back before you close.”
When I got home, I saw my husband working in the yard. I brought him out a cold beer and said, “I had a bad experience on my way home and it turns out to be a sad story.”
He stopped working and asked, “What sad story? What happened?”
“I almost hit a little Schnauzer running along Highway 22.” I could see the worried look across his face as I went on, “She was so small, I was lucky I got her in the car and took her over to the vet clinic. Dr. Bill said she’s in heat, has heart worms, and might even be pregnant. He thinks someone put her out on the highway to get hit so they didn’t have to treat her for the heartworms.”
“Go call them right now and tell them we’ll take her,” he said and tried to shoo me along to make the call.
“I already told them to have her ready and I’d pick her up at 2:00 before they close.”
I named her Schnitzel because in German it means little chip. She was always small and never weighed more than the ten pounds she was when I found her, but she had personality in spades. Holding her was like holding an infant whenever you picked her up because she was happy in the crook of your arm on her back. Once I bought a baby sling at a yard sale and carried her around in it. She looked like a Joey, a baby Kangaroo in a pouch.
She loved to go with me everywhere. I took her sailing and once it turned cold and windy while we were out. I fashioned her a foul weather wind breaker out of a plastic West Marine bag cutting holes for her head and front legs. She wore it with her life vest when we were underway. She loved sailing and had quite the sea legs – all four of them!
She was cat-like and walked around on the back of my furniture to get a higher position to see something. She would jump onto my desk and curl up next to my computer while I worked. She loved for me to dress her up for yappy hours at Jefferson Feed. Here is a picture of her in her Chanel suit and pillbox hat at the January AFTER FIVE-BRING YOUR BLING event with her escort Meaux. She was quite the fashion plate and everyone loved her.
In loving memory of Schnitzel
With us 1993 – 2006
Schnitzel was with us 13 years and she could have been as old as three when I found her. I thought she was only one-year-old because she was so small. She was cute, fun and an entertaining little dog.
Colleen’s series has humor, local color and a cast of quirky characters that could only be found in a city that knows how to have a good time. You would expect her protagonist with a name like Brandy Alexander to be a stripper instead of the girl next door with a serious passion for rescuing dogs. Brandy has a way of being at the eye of every storm that seems to go through the city and we’re not talking about the weather. In the city known as The Big Easy, Brandy Alexander’s life is like a Category 5 Hurricane. You have to ask, is there anything in Brandy Alexander’s life that is not complicated? While Brandy may help solve the crime, it’s no surprise that she is often rescued by one the Schnauzers!
There’s no place like New Orleans to have a good crime!