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Posted: March 11, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Black dog in need of a good home

The first time I saw the little black dog, he was a blur streaking down the street past our house with our black and white border collie in hot pursuit.

Sonny loped back home with a satisfied look on his face, proud to have protected the homestead from an intruder. The next time I saw the little black dog, he was hanging around the perimeter of the front yard or trotting jauntily through the neighborhood with his tail held high and curled, looking as if he owned the whole place. He seemed a happy sort. Then he took to sleeping alongside our fence, between our house and the next-door neighbors.

We felt sure he must have wandered away from a home somewhere nearby and began to wait for him to meander back in that vicinity.

Of course we gave him water, then dry food, although he seemed well fed and well cared for. He had a gray muzzle and easily let us approach him to scratch his head. Then he began to encroach near the front steps and the porch where Sonny spends lazy hours watching a slice of the world go by on our little-traveled street. The two got into a dust-up or two, but no harm done, and we began to realize the little black dog wasn’t going anywhere. We began to suspect that his home had moved away and left him, not the reverse.

At only 6 months old, Sonny was himself procured from the Newton County Animal Shelter, a fine specimen of 100 percent border collie, said our vet. He had been picked up all alone on a rural road somewhere, and we wondered what cruel heart might have let this beautiful little boy get away. Sonny was afraid of brooms, men and white trucks when we got him and still is wary of white trucks.

And all of you know we became a cat shelter last fall when two beautiful baby gray kittens tumbled out of the bushes and into our arms and hearts. They’re still here and they’ve trained us very well, I might add.

Sadly, the only option seemed to be to call the rescue crew from the shelter and ask for the little black dog to be taken away.

"We’ll make every effort to get him adopted out," said the guy in the truck.

I could see this dog fitting easily into almost any home. He was small to midsize, never barked and followed commands.

I went to the shelter a day or so later to take him some food, hoping the gesture would gain him a little longer tenure for an adoption to take place. Three days is the usual holding time before unclaimed dogs meet their fate, a difficult thought even as I write. I was allowed into the kennel to check on my little friend, and there he was. I think he recognized me when I bent down to let him sniff my hand.

And let me tell you, there were some gorgeous, happy and friendly dogs there. I could have taken any one or two or three of them home with me if we weren’t already booked up with animals. Surely someone had to be looking for that bouncing yellow lab or the old one with gray ears and a thick white coat suggesting a sheepdog mix. Even the mutts with a Heinz 57 background were clean and well behaved, mindful of putting their best face forward. I read recently that about 25 percent of pet parents are adopting older dogs to avoid the perils of puppyhood, such as house-training and destroyed shoes and furniture.

The Newton County Animal Shelter can house only 18 strays at a time, with six other runs set aside for dogs that are perceived to be dangerous. The 2011 SPLOST if passed on Tuesday will provide some $100,000 for shelter improvements and perhaps a little more space, considering the growth in the county population – and stray dogs – since it opened in 1990.

Director Teri Key-Hooson says about 5,000 cats and dogs pass through the shelter annually. She estimates that about 35 percent are adopted and 15 percent are reclaimed by their owners.

Her priority is to see these animals adopted or reclaimed.

The little black dog is still in the shelter, by the way.

Have a look.


Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics.

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