The spitz mix with a creamy white coat bounded out of his cage at the animal shelter last week and into the eager embrace of his new family. The dog, who nearly died in New Orleans, now has a permanent home in Silver Spring.

And a new name: Bourbon, after the famous street, to go with his fresh start.

"He's so friendly," said Jessica Simon, 30, who adopted the dog with her husband, Ron. "We just looked at his face and fell in love with him and knew that he was ours."

Bourbon, only 10 months old, was abandoned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. On Sept. 27, nearly a month after the storm, staff and volunteers from the Washington Animal Rescue League heard a faint whimper coming from a house -- and found Bourbon pinned behind a couch.

"He was emaciated and severely dehydrated," said Scotlund Haisley, the league's executive director, who helped bring 55 "Katrina animals" to its shelter on Oglethorpe Street NW. Other area animal rescue groups also brought back animals for adoption.

Bourbon and the other animals "went through hell," said Ron Simon, 29, an independent film producer who saw the dog while working on a documentary for Animal Planet. "It's amazing these guys made it."

Most of the league's rescued Katrina animals have been adopted or reunited with their owners. The staff has grown quite attached to Philmore, a rescued gerbil, and will keep him in the office. Ginger, a potbellied pig, was placed at a pig sanctuary in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The league hopes to find homes for the remaining rescued animals, including "Fat Max," a skinny orange tabby who was plucked, near death, from the sludge of a New Orleans street. The shelter also has 127 other dogs and cats that never went through a hurricane but still need homes.

After receiving treatment for heartworm, a rambunctious and robust-looking Bourbon, tugging at his leash, went home with the Simons on Nov. 17. He weighs 41 pounds, up from just 28 pounds after his rescue.

"He certainly doesn't look or act like the same dog," Haisley said.

The Simons planned to spend Thanksgiving in New York with relatives. And Bourbon.

-- Karlyn Barker

On Sept. 27, Scotlund Haisley, executive director of the Washington Animal Rescue League, and other volunteers rescued this spitz mix.Ron and Jessica Simon with Bourbon, who is named in honor of his former home.