Vila Jarrell, pictured, readies for a kiss from Pancho, the Rhodesian Ridgeback who became one of Tucson's worst-known cruelty cases when he was found chained in the sun, nearly dead from exposure and valley fever in 2008.
Her husband, Redman Jarrell, fell in love with the dog while doing a radio spot with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, and adopted him.
Today Pancho and Kola, a Lab mix they adopted from a Seattle shelter, make up their family.
The couple own Vila Thai Cuisine at 972 E. University Blvd., which opened four years ago in Main Gate Square. The dogs often come with them to work, staying in an adjacent art gallery.
Vila Jarrell chaired the food and drink commitee for Puttin' on the Dog in April, and helped coordinate Chow Down for Hounds last year.
Redman Jarrell, the executive chef, took Pancho to the Humane Society for months of intravenous treatments to combat the valley fever. The dog, now about 3, lost his eyesight last year.
What's your best dog story?
"How Pancho's recovered with all he's been through - from the sunburn to the blindness to the intravenous treatment to where he is today." Redman Jarrell wanted to thank the veterinarians at the Humane Society, for "making sure he got healthy again. They were completely amazing."
Restaurants take a lot of time. How do you fit in time with your dogs?
"I give them a lot of exercise before I go to work in the morning."
What do they mean to you?
"I feel lucky to have them. It is a lot of work and can require a lot of patience … but I feel like they are an extension of me. It's like having kids without having kids."
How did you choose a name?
"Kola means friend in Lakota indian. Pancho was named Bobcat at first because they found him at a construction site, but then we decided to call him Pancho because I got him for Vila - Pancho Villa."
What's the coolest thing your dogs do?
"Pancho - him just maintaining his positive attitude and how happy he is despite everything he's been through is pretty cool."
What do you guys do in your spare time?
"We take them on hikes around where we live. We take them running. Kola loves to swim in the pool."
On the bed or off the bed?
"Pancho's a good spooner. But normally they sleep off the bed."
Do you cook for your dogs?
"I make them a combination of brown rice, chicken breast, carrots, spinach, green beans and eggs and salmon. They're used to human food."
"Kola can open locked doors. It's not a good trick, but it's her trick. We've actually found her in a grocery store produce department. And in a coffee shop. She loves people. She likes to get out and mingle, and she finds a way to go and end up where people are."
"Pancho's would be his ability to run without being able to see."
"They get pretty excited when its time to go to work because they get to hang their head out the window. And they know they get to see lots of people."
Do you vacation with your dogs?
"We don't really get to vacation very much." And when they do, he said, "we have a list of people who are willing to dog sit for us."
What needs to happen to reduce the number of homeless animals?
"Spay and neuter. And I'd say tighter restrictions on breeding. Also, if someone is going to adopt a dog, they need to adopt it to be a companion animal and not a status symbol."