Rhody Pets: A Newport Pet-Sitter All About Fun

Lucky Paws founder Denise DiGangi has tails wagging for her doggie day trip services

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Having a home-based pet-sitting business is the dream for so many animal lovers, but it takes a certain level of commitment to share your bed with seven pups, including two 50-pound pitties. “The other night I had to sleep up where the pillows go,” says Denise DiGangi with a laugh. “The crew
weren’t budging!”

DiGangi is the exuberant owner of Lucky Paws, an Aquidneck Island-based pet-sitting and dog-walking business, now celebrating 20 years of loving service. Every day, rain or shine, she goes door to door (and mansion to mansion!) picking up pups for an energy-burning adventure and then delivers them back home, ensuring muddy or sandy paws are toweled off before they reach any white couches.

This dedicated doggie daycare service began as a volunteer gig. “I first moved to Rhode Island as a Salve Regina University art student; then, after a stint in social work in New York, I returned to Newport and began volunteering as a dog walker at the Potter League,” shares DiGangi. “People started to ask me to sit their dog, and now I have over a hundred regular clients with a surge of extra bookings in the summer, including guests at Forty 1º North,” the elegant waterfront
lodgings in Newport.

One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the demand. “I’m keen to hear from trustworthy, reliable individuals with animal experience to help me with dog walking and cat visits. Although I am here to create a fun environment, I take this job very seriously – at the end of the day I am responsible for a life.”

Thankfully, DiGangi has great matchmaking skills when it comes to putting together her play groups. She studies each personality type and even assigns sections in the car when they go on merry jaunts. “I place the calm, friendly dogs way in the back, those that need a little space on the seats behind me, and the smaller dogs, wild cards, and trouble-makers up front!” 

DiGangi’s car is now synonymous with good times, so much so that when she was recently cruising along in downtown Newport, one of her regulars’ ears pricked up. “This 85-pound Lab was out on a walk with his owner, heard the engine, and became so hellbent on climbing in the vehicle I had to stop and give them both a ride home!” she chuckles. “Apparently dogs get FOMO too!”

Find out more at LuckyPawsRI.com and follow the fun on Instagram at @luckypawsri

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