Pets are often considered to be a big part of families, which is why the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin invites pets and their owners to stay and vacation together at the beaches of South Walton. To honor these furry family members, the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin created a Pet of the Month contest on Facebook.

This summer, one winner was a sweet and spunky dachshund named Odie, who was rescued by Jim Sheppard from the Atlanta-based DREAMDachshund Rescue Organization. Upon hearing that Odie was named Pet of the Month, Sheppard decided to donate $250 to the DREAM Dachshund Rescue and the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin offered to match the funds.

This summer, the Sheppards were on their way to a week-long vacation at a house on 30A, but were unable to check-in to the house until the following day. A slight detour to the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin would lead to a much bigger impact for the organization that brought Odie and the Sheppards together. As Jim and Odie were walking through the lobby, the front desk agent asked if she could take a picture of Odie for the Pet of the Month contest. When the contest went live on the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin’s Facebook page, Jim shared it with the DREAM foundation and everyone jumped in to support Odie.

When Odie won, the Sheppards gave the $25 PetSmart gift card to DREAM Dachshund Rescue to honor Odie as well as an additional donation of $250. When the Sheppards told the Residence Inn team about their donation, the entire staff decided to match it.

“The effect of one trip through the lobby with Odie at your hotel produced a nice donation and a gift card for the organization where we adopted Odie! Doing adoption right is expensive and I know the donation means a lot to DREAM,” Sheppard said.

Over the past 10 years, the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin, an extended-stay hotel featuring 119 suites, has been honored to welcome guests and their four-legged family members for relaxing beach vacations. The Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin’s Pet of the Month winner is determined each month on the Residence Inn Sandestin at Grand Boulevard’s Facebook page based on the number of “likes” each photo receives. Each month’s winner receives a $25 gift card to PetSmart, a personalized certificate, and a chance to be entered into the Pet of the Year contest