A big heart for pets makes it tough for Shana Pope to say no.
Shana Pope has a big heart for animals, though being allergic to cats has kept her from welcoming felines into the house. “That would be a mess,” she says.
But Pope hasn’t let that affliction keep her from being a pet owner, and she’s channeled her passion for pets into the five dogs who live with her and husband Todd. She’s particularly enamored of miniature schnauzers, a fascination she dates back to the first time she saw one in a pet shop.
“I immediately fell in love with Cooper, but we had just gotten together, and Todd didn’t think we were ready for a dog,” says Pope, who manages the Five Paces Inn on Irby Avenue in Buckhead. “I came home pouting. Then my parents came to the house, and my dad pulled the little black dog from underneath his shirt. We wound up keeping him for a while, and I knew he wasn’t going home. He led the way.”
Two years later, the couple bought Oscar, a black and silver miniature. But when Cooper passed away suddenly, Pope was ready to expand the crew. On a visit to pick up two miniature male schnauzers, Irby and Winston, they also fell for Dolly.
“She’s the tiniest and fiercest nine pounds of fury,” Pope says.
Four years ago, Pope adopted Riggs from the Angels Among Us Pet Rescue. The Staffordshire terrier and schnauzer mix is now 4. And when Oscar died, Pope thought she was done expanding the brood, but then fate introduced her to Willy Jackson.
“I met a couple walking him in Buckhead, and he was so cute,” says Pope. “But they told me they hadn’t been able to find him a home and were taking him to the pound the next day. I didn’t even talk to Todd; I just brought him home. He’s about 54 pounds now and constantly on the go. He’s like having two dogs.”
While all five critters get along, keeping the crew organized is the secret to Pope’s sanity.
“We have a sunroom off our bedroom where each has their own bed,” she says. “When I tell them it’s time for bed, they know which one to go to. That’s a good thing because having dogs sleep in the bed with us isn’t my husband’s favorite thing.”
The dogs also eat, go outside and sleep all at the same time. Behind the couple’s Cumming home is a deck with a stone drainage system where the furry kids hang out during the day. An Infinity SUV is the ideal size for transporting them to the vet or groomer, although Pope does it in shifts “so I’m not tripping over all of them at the same time.” And she took each one to obedience classes. “Staying consistent is really important,” she says. “I make sure they all know when it’s time to sit, time to go out. They know which is their bowl and their specific toys. That makes it super easy.” But it’s not always calm, she admits.
“There’s never a dull moment,” Pope says with a laugh. “It’s still hard to get a little peace when I’m trying to concentrate or go to the restroom, but it’s really not that difficult. We’ve learned how to make it work. And I have enough love to go around.”
PHOTOS: Joann Vitelli
Atlanta-based writer and editor contributing to a number of local and state-wide publications. Instructor in Georgia State’s Communication department and Emory’s Continuing Education division.