Out of the storm, one big dog finds happy life at Mooresville horse farm

Mardi with Dee Dee Washam
Mardi with Dee Dee Washam Courtesy of Dee Dee Washam

Not all of the Katrina evacuees were people.

The Rottweiler is white-faced now. She doesn’t jump with the same ease onto Dee Dee Washam’s sofa at her Noble Acres horse farm in Mooresville. She’s clearly slowed down.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the dog arrived weighing a sickly 44 pounds at Bob Busby’s DiDio K-9 Country Club kennel with about 35 other Rotties rescued from the storm. Most were sick and malnourished.

Washam, a groomer, was determined not to take any of the dogs home. But as she bathed the dogs, there was something about this one “that tugged at me,” and soon the Rottweiler was added to Washam’s “dysfunction junction” where all of her rescued animals have a story.

She named the dog Mardi, short for Mardi Gras.

Animal rescuers from all over the country worked the Gulf Coast looking for abandoned animals. Project Halo of Charlotte rescued 500 dogs alone. Busby gave Ethan Graybill, another Rottweiler lover from Woodruff, S.C., his motor home and told him to bring back as many as he could.

When the 35 arrived – it took two trips – Busby turned part of his kennel into a clinic, as veterinarians from Lake Norman Animal Hospital examined each dog. “Most of them were very ill and undernourished,” Busby said. Once they were healthy, the dogs were fostered up and down the East Coast.

But one, Mardi, stayed in Mooresville at Dysfunction Junction.

The Rottie fell in easily with Washam’s other rescued dogs and cats. She’s social, lazy and ladylike – she loves to get her toenails clipped.

“She thinks she’s a 10-pound lapdog,” Washam said. “If you’re on the couch, she is too.”

Now Mardi is 111/2 years old and weighs 114 pounds. She takes a lot of naps and has hip problems. “But she’s still with me,” Washam said. “She was a New Orleans girl turned into a very happy Carolina girl.”

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