Richard Epling and Eduardo Huerta opened Rio Cafe, a casually elegant eatery at 2526 E. Grant Road that serves a variety of inspired Latin dishes, nearly four years ago.

They participated in Puttin' on the Dog for three years and hope to do more fundraising events for various shelters.

They adopted Dash, a dog whose heritage remains a mystery, from the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. He's now about 8.

Why a rescue animal?

Huerta: "There's a lot of abandoned animals everywhere. Why are you going to buy from a mill or at a store?

"I know they need a home, too, but Dash was found on the street."

Epling: "After (our dog) Reno died, I used to go every Saturday and walk the dogs there.

"I guess in a way I was looking for someone. Dash found me."

How do you fit in time with your dog?

Huerta: "Richard gets up every day at 6:30 a.m. and plays with him for an hour and a half."

Epling: "I also go home at lunchtime every day and play with him."

How did you choose his name?

Huerta: "He used to have a white dash in his forehead. Richard called him 'Dash,' and he barked at him. He chose his name."

What's the coolest thing Dash does?

Huerta: "He used to jump and give you a kiss without touching you."

What do you do in your spare time?

Huerta: "We take him for walks and he loves to be in the car. We take him to Reid Park when we have time."

On the bed or off the bed?

Huerta: "On the bed."

Do you cook for your dog?

Huerta: "No, but we always give him scraps even though we know we shouldn't. He eats everything."

What's your best dog story?

Epling: "We used to take him to the dog park in Chicago. Any time two dogs were about to fight, he'd run up to them and start kissing them.

"He was the peacemaker."

Best trick?

Huerta: "He catches a Frisbee in the air. He loves to play fetch."

Epling: "We can actually have our food in the living room on the coffee table and walk out of the room, and he won't touch it."

Worst trick?

Huerta: "He's very well-behaved, actually.

"Well, when you're sitting at the table, he puts his paw on your leg until you give him scraps."

Biggest indulgence?

Epling: "He reaps the benefit of restaurant food on occasion."

Do you vacation with your dog?

Huerta: "We went to Vermont with Reno for a week-and-a-half in a cabin. He loved it."

What needs to happen to reduce the number of homeless animals?

Huerta: "People should be aware they have to neuter their dogs. A lot of people don't care.

"What I think is really unfair is when temporary residents get a puppy and then leave it when they move.

"It is not a toy. They're not considerate enough to say, 'This is a live animal.' "

Epling: "Get the dog that's right for your personality. A lot of people don't take that into consideration.

"That's what makes the relationship work."