Love me, love my dogs
By Meda Kessler
Photos by Jill Johnson
Tara and Fritz Rahr open their hearts to each other and to a motley crew of rescue pups
“Someone’s chewed my jacket.” Fritz Rahr is staring at the bottom edge of the back of his sport coat, which is now damp and missing a chunk of fabric.
He looks at his wife, Tara Harper Rahr, apologetically. And then he looks at Buddy, sternly. The guilty party is one of the couple’s seven dogs.
Tara doesn’t seem to be concerned and tells Fritz that she’ll get it fixed. Fritz continues to examine the chewed coat.
We’ve just completed an outdoor photo shoot where we battled a cold wind, threatening rain clouds and seven dogs who were not interested in sitting for a portrait. At least not together and at the same time.
We’re now sitting at the breakfast table inside the Rahrs’ Fort Worth home, and things have calmed down a bit. Old Shep, who’s deaf and a bit shy, is sleeping in the corner. Other pups move in and around the table, seeking head scratches and more treats. Two Chihuahuas, who are not as social, opt not to join us but let out occasional barks to keep us aware that they are present.
Such is life at the Rahr household. “Welcome to our world,” says Tara with a big smile. It’s obvious there’s no place she’d rather be and no other person she’d rather be with.
On paper, they’re an unlikely couple. Fritz, 53, is the founder/owner of Rahr & Sons Brewing Company, the storied Fort Worth business with roots in Wisconsin. Fritz likes to fish and hunt; his pedigreed German hunting dog is named Schnapps.
Tara, 45, is a former Dallasite who co-founded Blushly, a beauty accessories company with a strong presence on QVC. A longtime proponent of animal rescue, she helped launch Paws in the City, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending the overpopulation and neglect of dogs in North Texas. Years ago, she was a Bravo TV reality show star thanks to Most Eligible Dallas, a look at the dating lives of men and women. Even then, Tara’s passion for her nonprofit and unwanted animals was clearly on view. It’s part of the nurturing personality that was evident even when she was a child. “I saw a dog running down the street and made my dad go catch her. Sally lived with us until she was 15,” says Tara.
While she had come close to marriage a few times, no one stuck until she met Fritz. Appropriately enough, the first time they crossed paths was about 10 years ago at a Paws in the City event in Dallas. In 2017, Fritz asked Tara out on a date. She tried to learn all she could about him ahead of time, eventually agreeing to a dinner where she also brought female friends. “It was kind of like an interview process,” says Fritz. “But it was fun, and I think I made a good impression.”
At that time, Tara had three dogs and Fritz had two. An old shepherd mix helped bring the couple closer together. They traveled south to Pasadena to pick up the dog and take him back to Tara’s Dallas home. “We loaded all the dogs in the car for the trip,” says Fritz. “Shep loaded up with them all for the return home. He was so smelly, I took him into the shower and gave him a bath.”
That seemed to be the tipping point in the relationship between the humans and with the dog. Both Tara and Fritz melted when a freshly washed Shep sat with them on the kitchen floor. “He put his paw on each of us,” says Tara. “He knew he was safe and loved.” Shep was officially theirs, and Tara knew she had found a man who would share her passion for rescue. Fritz was smitten by Tara and drawn to helping dogs in need.
Tara and her pups moved to Fort Worth in July 2019; he proposed a few months later in New York City. Due to COVID, their July 2020 wedding in Italy was postponed in favor of a small ceremony at the Fort Worth home they bought together. Chronicled by The New York Times, the event even featured Shep.
Today, their combined pack is made up of dogs ranging in age from 2 to 12. They are Schnapps, Fritz’s German wirehaired pointer; Levi, a big Lab mix, and Lucy, both rescued from the Fort Worth city shelter; the two Chihuahuas, who were the surviving puppies from a litter dumped in a bin outside the Dallas city shelter; Buddy, who was rescued as a puppy from Fairview, Texas; and Shep. A few started out as foster dogs, but now they are permanent residents. Lucy is the newest addition, and Tara is happy to have another female in the house.
In January 2021, the couple made their nonprofit, Rahr to the Rescue, official.
“We knew we wanted to do something to help local shelters and other rescues such as Saving Hope, the Humane Society of Dallas County and Fort Worth Animal Care & Control,” says Tara, who left Paws in the City in the capable hands of others. “Our mission is to raise money and awareness through events at the brewery and places like Mutts Canine Cantina.”
Tara also uses her social media accounts to advocate for dogs and to encourage others to foster and adopt.
“It’s kind of a zoo here sometimes,” says Fritz, examining his tooth-marked sport jacket one more time. “But we wouldn’t have it any other way.”