Meet Dog + Human

A Little Q&A with the Owners of Some of the Cutest Canines in La Jolla

 Jean Spengel, Debra Madden and Their Dogs, Kellan and Devyn

Jean Spengel owned the La Jolla Veterinary Hospital for more than 20 years and worked as an associate veterinarian before selling the hospital in 2001. She then went on to work at Windan’ Sea Veterinary Clinic until she retired in 2016. 

Debra Madden worked at Solar Turbines as an engineer and project manager until retiring in 2014. 

Both Kellan and Devyn came from Oakhurst Kennel, which has been breeding Rhodesian Ridgebacks for over 40 years. The ladies have been friends with the owners for quite some time, and when it was time to bring a new puppy into the house, they brought Kellan home, and when Kellan lobbied for a little sister, they brought Devyn into the pack.  

What similar qualities do you see in yourselves in the dogs?

We are probably like our dogs in that we like being outdoors and being active.

Where do you both love to take the dogs to run around and burn off all that energy?

Our favorite place and the dogs’ is Fiesta Island. It is 90 acres of open, undeveloped space with a lot of shoreline where we can walk and the dogs can run and play. It keeps them worn out and us sane! We are also on the board of directors of Fiesta Island Dog Owners, a nonprofit with 16,000 supporters. Our goal is to convince the city to preserve the 90-acre fenced off-leash area on Fiesta Island intact.

What do you love about owning several pets?   

We love having the dogs, but we also have two cats which the dogs adore. They are often found all together sleeping on the couch. Sometimes the cats use the dogs as their “beds,” and sometimes the dogs lay with their heads on the cats like they are their pillows. Just seeing the bond between these guys makes us happy and makes us smile. They’re both lovable in their own way, and they have their own personalities which makes life with them interesting. No matter what happens, the dogs love us day in and day out. The cats, well, they’re cats so they show their affection a little differently and when they choose to!

Kera Murphy and Lola

Kera Murphy is the co-owner of La Jolla Sports Club as well as the co-owner of SanDiego.com and Pro Coaches Online. She is also the owner of the nonprofit Promising Future Fund and KLM Hair Design and is a mom to her beautiful 1 and a half-year-old blue pit bull, Lola that she adopted three days after she lost her 13-year-old service dog, Hootie. 

Describe a day at work with Lola.
She is always sure to head straight to the daycare to check on the kids. It seems to be her top priority. In between naps—hers, not mine—she greets members and makes sure nobody’s in need of a spot. Once she knows everything is OK on the gym floor, we do a loop around town to get lunch and catch up with the locals.

Do you two have a nightly ritual?
Us girls usually go for a walk and say hello to all the neighbors. After that, it’s meal prep time. I’m usually a little more strict with her rations, but don’t tell anyone. 

Does your dog sleep next to you at night?
Lola has a couple of beds at her disposal, but that doesn’t stop her from regularly attempting to get into mine. We are working on this!

What qualities do you and your dog have in common?
We are social, observant and have a great love of the outdoors. Both of us also give a good handshake.

What personality traits has your dog inherited from you?
All of the good ones, of course. I don’t know where the stubbornness and selective hearing came from. 

Daron Fitzgerald and Panda 

Daron Fitzgerald is a certified personal trainer and trains many residents of La Jolla as well as the greater San Diego. She is the mom to a six-year-old English bullnose bull terrier, Panda.  Daron adopted Panda two years ago from the San Diego Humane Society., and for both of them, it was love at first sight.

 How do you balance work life and being a dog owner?

Since I’m lucky enough to set my work schedule, I honestly set plan around Panda. I will come home every 3-4 hours to let her out and spend some time with her.  On days that I know it’s going to be busy, I will take her for a run on the beach, or for a long walk the day before and let her get all of her energy out. Even if I can get home for an hour on my hectic days, I will still take her for a walk, or play with her so that I can tucker her out until I get back home. 

What is your favorite memory of you and Panda?

It would have to be when I first learned that Panda loves bubbles.  She’s a total bubble feen. One day we were on the beach, and the guy was blowing bubbles, and there she was jumping up in the air to try and eat the bubbles. The next day   I went out and bought one of those bubble guns, and every time I get it going, she goes nuts. 

What kind of funny or mischievous things does she do?

No matter if she’s eaten already or not, and even if she has food already in her dish she will still come over and want whats on your plate. Sometimes she doesn’t even want the food that she has in her bowl but will go straight for mine. Panda is always looking for food.  She loves looking in plastic bags for food.  She gets fed like four times a day as well a treats, and those four meals are not small at all.