Canine ‘wedding’ benefitting PAWS

There is a certain link between humans and their animals that benefits both. Sometimes that relationship goes well beyond the routine. One such relationship is leading to a “wedding” between Frangelica Meloni and Shaggydog Stark.

Frangelica Meloni is the four-legged daughter of Chadds Ford’s Kathryn Meloni. Frangelica has been a therapy dog for the past several years and the wedding — scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rose Tree Park — is to benefit PAWS for People.

The acronym, PAWS, stands for Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services. It’s a non-profit organization committed to providing therapeutic visits to any person in the community who would benefit from interaction with a well-trained, loving pet.

Even the closest of couples can have differing opinions.

The animals, including dogs, cats, and even rabbits, are used in hospitals, health care facilities, chemical dependency centers, courtrooms, libraries, schools, and private homes. With Kathryn Meloni being an attorney, it’s apropos that Frangelica takes her therapeutic magic to the courtroom. The Melonis became part of a pilot program in 2016 aimed at calming children and families who have to go to family court.

Kathryn said at the time that Frangelica was a rescue who was “super friendly, loved people, calm enough and well-behaved” after she began training. It was a little different before that, though.

“She was a little terror. … Her name, Frangelica, is a hazelnut Italian liqueur. She was nuts. That’s how she got her name, though that doesn’t make a lot of sense now because she’s so good. Once she started the obedience training, she flourished. As a result of that, I thought serving as a therapy dog would be a good thing for her,” Meloni said at the time.

After two-and-a-half years of working with trainers, Frangelica passed her advanced level and became a favorite. She’s been used in a variety of settings. Meloni told a story about a woman in a nursing home who was highly agitated and fighting with a nurse until she saw Frangelica.

“She spotted Frangelica and stopped, smiled, calmed down and started to pet her. It was miraculous to watch. … And [Frangelica] loves it. She eats it up,” Meloni said. “She knows it’s her job.”

Today, Therapy Team Meloni works at Delaware County Courthouse, Media Library, Rachel Kohl's Library, and Granite Farms Estates. Also, both dogs do extra work at Barnes & Noble and similar places, Kathryn Meloni said.

As for Shaggydog Stark, Kathryn Meloni said his parents are Ashley Kennedy and Lee Coates, soon to be married the end of June. Their Best Dog and Dog of Honor for the wedding are their two dogs, and they invited Frangelica to the wedding, as she is family.

Shaggydog has been with PAWS for seven years now. He volunteers at Richey Elementary, Baylor Correctional Institute, and Claymont Library. He is part of the first cohort of the "PAWSitivity for Prisoners" program. He, too, is a rescue, part-Great Pyrenees mutt from a shelter in South Carolina, his human mama Ashley Kennedy said.

Meloni refers to her future dog-in-law as “an awesome boy and a great therapy dog.”

They — the humans anyway — are looking for vendors and raffle donations for the wedding. Vendors can register here.

Meloni may be reached at KMeloni@KMeloniLaw.com

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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