Dog Days of Summer: Our tails are wagging for Todd Graves’ new shelter pup and the entrants of this year’s contest

If you’re from Baton Rouge, or even if you’re not, it’s likely you’ve heard the story of the inception of Raising Cane’s. The college business professor dismissing the idea. Founder Todd Graves’ unrelenting hustle—aka working as a boilermaker and a fisherman—to raise the startup money. The humble beginnings at LSU’s north gates.

But it’s likely that even if you don’t know all of that, you do know the origins of the chicken franchise’s name. From the sunglass-clad portraits to the T-shirts to the plush toys, the mascot is hard to miss. It’s Graves’ yellow Labrador retriever, Raising Cane.

“In 1996, when I didn’t have a name for my soon-to-open restaurant, a friend suggested I name it after my dog, Raising Cane, who hung around the construction site,” Graves recalls.

The entrepreneur has been a dog lover his entire life, with yellow Labradors long defining his canine preferences. So it made sense to place his pup at the center of the brand. And even after Raising Cane I passed away in 1998, Graves kept the tradition going, with yellow Labs Raising Cane II and Raising Cane III. 

Photo courtesy Todd Graves

“For the past several years, we’ve had two dogs,” Graves notes, “Cane II and yellow Lab Roux, and then Roux and Cane III. When Roux passed last year, Cane missed having a canine buddy around the house.”

At a shelter in November 2021, the Graves family found the perfect friend to fill the void: a “super mutt” named Clove that shook up the yellow Lab legacy. “She and Cane are best friends, and they like to spend their days together running in the backyard, playing tug of war, and sunbathing by the pool,” Graves says. “Clove never leaves her big sister’s side.”

The addition of a rescue pet to the Graves family tree is all the more significant given the Raising Cane’s company’s passion for pet welfare. The firm has partnered with thousands of organizations nationwide—including Friends of the Animals, Capital Area Animal Welfare Society and the Denham Springs Animal Shelter—to support everything from pet adoptions to dog parks to therapy and service dog programs. Through the Plush Puppy Program, the net proceeds of stuffed yellow Lab likenesses are donated to pet-related causes; since the first plush puppy was sold in 2004, Raising Cane’s has donated $1 million to pet welfare organizations.

“The money we receive from Cane’s helps us with the medical care for all of the dogs we take into our care,” Friends of the Animals executive director Paula Schoen says. “When we pull dogs from the shelter, we never discriminate based on if they are heartworm positive or have other medical needs, and that’s because of those donations. Their support is crucial for us to be able to help as many dogs as we do.”

Below, you’ll find many former shelter pups like Clove as well as quite a few purebreds like Cane III. And while they took different paths to their forever homes, they all have one thing in common: they’re very good dogs. 

Read on to hear from their owners—each of whom would also likely name their fast-food franchise after their furry friend.


Chihuahua-terrier mix

“I adopted her from Friends of the Animals in August of 2020. She comes to work with me every day. She thinks her job is being the doorbell and to alert me that a customer has entered.” —Travis McLavy


50% pitbull, 50% pointer

“Bucky is not only the sweetest dog, but he’s also the best big brother to his two little humans. He uses his inside bark when talking to us (usually), helps clean messes that his brothers make (the food ones primarily), and he loves to cuddle on the couch (or the ground) with his baby.” —Ashtin McNicoll



“She’s got the funniest personality and is the biggest protector. We call her our little guard dog because no one’s coming in our house until they get past her! She’s just the best.” —Anna Chapman

Winston, aka Winnie

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

“When he’s not snuggling or snoozing next to me, he loves going on bike rides, playing in the pool, shopping for plants, sunbathing outside and begging for pup cups.” —Kelly Hansen

Photo by Geauxgarcia Photography

Miles and Major

French bulldogs

“There is no personality quite like a Frenchie! We love how Miles and Major are the comic relief in our lives—totally goofy and overly energetic but always in the mood for playtime and belly rubs. Without a bad bone in their bodies, they would welcome any stranger with open paws and few loud snorts.” —Dan Bergeron & Shawn Zeringue


F1B Irish doodle

“On top of being adorable, Rouge has a playful personality, loves meeting new friends, and is great with all age groups. We take him everywhere with us. He is a regular at Mid City Beer Garden, and he loves to promote local dog-friendly restaurants.” —Anna Katherine & Austin Jackson

Photo by Eye Wander Photo


Bichon poodle

“We rescued Tux in October 2021 from Rescue Rehome Repeat. Tux adds so much joy to our household. He’s so cute and loves his brothers.” —Lisa Jain Welden and sons Devin and Sohan


Shih tzu-poodle mix

“Maisel (of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) definitely lives up to her namesake, as she is the most marvelous travel buddy and dress-up queen with the world’s best eyelashes.” —Sarah Cripps

Boston Springsteen, aka Boss

Predominantly pug

“Boss embraces the dog days of summer by basking (and napping) in the sunshine in his quest for the perfect tan. He enjoys his role as lifeguard on the ski boat.” —Caroline Graham and kids Connor and Emelie

Photo by Whitney Wilkinson


Labrador mix

“There are so many reasons our Stella Bella is the best, but some of our favorites are that she never meets a stranger and she is always down for an afternoon nap. She is happiest when all the attention is on her and she is getting a belly scratch.” —Alexis Dunbar


Miniature labradoodle

“Layla loves her family so much and will jump for joy—3 feet into the air—when we come home and also when she is getting her dinner prepared. She loves cuddles, playing fetch and long walks through the neighborhood.” —Kaitlin Hoover


German shepherd

“Since the day I adopted him, he has not left my side. From hiking and bike riding to fishing and wakeboarding, Tac has never turned down an adventure.” —Mary Katherine Bernard


Golden retriever

“He’s the most loyal companion and has tons of energy, even in his senior years. He brings us so much joy and only asks for belly rubs in return.” —Meghan Moreau


Basset hound

“He’s very easygoing and full of curiosity thanks to his basset sense of smell. Making trips to pick vegetables in the garden with his dad is one of his favorite late afternoon activities as he likes to taste the cherry tomatoes.” —Kimberly Joubert

Callie and Winston

Boykin spaniel and English field-bred cocker spaniel

“This pair of pups live for the water, enjoying any excuse to hop on the boat for a ride.” —Megan Andries


German pinscher mix (probably)

“I adopted her from Companion Animal Alliance in January 2020 and we have been inseparable ever since. She is the best adventure partner. She loves to explore, especially around her hometown of Baton Rouge.” —Hailey Smith



“Snowball is our fluffy, energetic little boy who keeps up laughing daily. He loves to take naps, sunbathe and play outside. We can’t imagine life without him!”—Alaina Bruce


French bulldog

“At 10 years old, Mignon loves nothing more than snuggling, going for walks and watching TV. She rings a bell to go outside, and shows off her toys by parading around the house with them.” —Sydney Boudreaux


German shepherd

“She is a quirky, energetic and sassy ball of energy that follows her family around the clock.” —Steven Nguyen

Pippa and Nala

Goldern retrievers

“They are the sweetest sisters and they bring the most joy to our lives. They are also mom’s best coworkers as I’m still working from home full time.” —Elizabeth Eversole



“I buckle her in the car and every time someone pulls up next to us, they fall apart laughing and pointing at her. It makes me happy that Olive makes so many people smile.”—Leigh Manuel



“Bliss is sassy, spoiled and spunky! She enjoys being held 24/7, sitting on her hind legs when she wants food, getting beauty sleep, and belly rubs.” —Rheesa Purpera

Mickey and Milo


“I went to pick up one boxer pup and ended up with two. They’re mostly good…sometimes not so good.” —Mary Kay Montgomery



“Roux is my best friend. She loves car rides, meeting new people, head scratches, patio time, and hunting lizards, even though she has never caught one.” —Lindsay Voinche Harper


Golden retriever

“Toby enjoys ice cream on hot days, riding in the car, walking himself, making friends with the backyard frogs, hogging the tennis balls, stealing socks, and outsmarting his mom. He is happiest when he adventures wtih his humans.” —Katie Tebo

Pippa Louise

Jack Russell-Shnauzer mix

“I rescued her three years ago from Companion Animal Alliance after meeting her while volunteering. It was like it was meant to be! She is my very best friend and goes everywhere I go.” —Emma Fryday


Black lab

“Cash is supposed to be my son’s dog but I seem to be his favorite person. He loves to eat rocks and socks and to lay on top of me at all times. I want to get mad about the amount of hair he sheds but then I look at that cute face.” —Doughty Varnadoe

Roux and Cali

Rhodesian ridgebacks

“These two dogs are always by my side. They have literally saved my life twice. They love spending time on the Gulf Coast beaches and hiking the mountains of North Carolina.”—Julie Tucker


Pembroke Welsh corgi

“Griffin is the best because he barks to alert us to any and all danger, even the wind, lol. He’s the best at resting his snout on us, causing us to stay in the same position so as not to disturb him. He’s also the best at eating and ball fetching!” —Renee Daigrepont



“I got Lele right before my senior year of college and she’s been my best friend ever since. I knew my future husband was definitely the one when Lele could not get enough of him.” —Margaret Mangelli