DOUG ELFMAN: Puppy love for highest bidders

Cute little puppies are among the best-selling auction items that charities are selling to raise money for causes.

On Saturday night, the Lili Claire Foundation auctioned off a 4-month-old chocolate Lab for $6,500.

The new owner of the breeder-donated pup, Christina Hall of Las Vegas, named the puppy Lili in honor of the organization, one of the best in town. Lili Claire provides free medical care and support to children with autism, fetal alcohol syndrome and other issues.

"Everybody said, ‘Christine, don’t bid on (auction item) No. 1!’ " because she’s such a serious animal lover, Hall said, but "that was the ringer."

If $6,500 sounds out of your price range, then you don’t know about the dog that fetched $11,000 at an auction for Faith Lutheran Junior-Senior High School in February, to raise money for the construction of a performing arts center.

At the Lili Claire event, a few people said they could tell the recession was hurting donations, since Faith Lutheran’s dog raised more cash.

But there’s another explanation. Faith Lutheran’s puppy also got caught in a more heated bidding war between two potential buyers.

"Some people have issues with auctioning off dogs, but in our case, it was good for the puppy," says Brenda Bogue, director of development at Faith Lutheran.

"We did a pound puppy," Bogue says. "The puppy was on death row two days before the auction, and now it’s living in the lap of luxury."

I feel conflicted about the non-pound puppy. Saturday’s event was genuinely lovely at times. Some children and parents who benefit at the Lili Claire clinic attended. One little girl sang in a long white dress and earned a standing ovation.

And this was a celebration of and main fundraiser for the serious work Lili Claire does every day to help parents and children. (If you want to donate to Lili, call 862-8141.)

That said, there are a lot of animals that need rescuing. This year, the Las Vegas Humane Society has taken in 40 dogs just from foreclosed homes alone. That’s right, 40 homeowners who lost their mortgages abandoned their pets.

Anyway, the Humane Society places dogs in suitable homes after interviews and home visits, and it doesn’t euthanize pets. It puts animals in foster homes until they’re placed. (To donate, call 434-2009 or go to LVHumane.org.)

By the way, Lili the $6,500 puppy raised more money at auction than did a year VIP membership to the Playboy Club and other Palms’ clubs, which pulled in $5,000. So that’s $1,500 more for a puppy than for Bunnies.

Also on the Lili block:

• Two women spent $11,000 for guitars autographed by Goo Goo Dolls singer Johnny Rzeznik, then they met him backstage.

• George Clooney’s 10-year-old foosball table came with a signed letter promising, "Now it’s all yours." It sold for $7,000.

• Someone spent $6,500 for soccer lessons from the L.A. Galaxy’s Landon Donovan.

• And chef Rick Moonen will serve dinner to two sets of bidders who dished out $12,000 each.

ALL MY FRIENDS READ BOOKS? IN VEGAS?

If you’re a journalist, you’re pretty familiar with the fact that newspapers are shutting down their book sections to save money. The R-J, on the other hand, started a book superblog on Monday, featuring a wealth of book news and views.

At The Book Nook at reviewjournal.com, my friends already have written pieces on Jane Austen, Alexander McCall Smith, Dean Koontz and Leif Enger.

Like our other new superblog — the entertainment Vegas Voice — The Book Nook is packed with R-J staffers and welcomes you to chime in on any subject at hand. So check it out and join the conversation. The Book Nook at reviewjournal.com.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 383-0391 or e-mail him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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