A young boy walks toward his cage. His tail wags furiously as he nuzzles the boy's hand with his
nose. His body warms to the touch; his spirit soars. "Maybe this is the one. Maybe this is the one
who will be my new best friend, my buddy, my owner". His whole body wiggles with happiness.
"Please. Take me home with you. We can run and play, and I'll be warm and loved again. Please.
Don't walk away. Give me a chance. That's all I ask". Oh no! He's stopping at the cage with the new
puppy in it. "Please come back. I don't want to be alone anymore. I don't want to die! PLEASE! I
want to live!" A moment later he returns to the tattered blanket in the corner. The puppy cage is
empty. And a teardrop falls.
This situation occurs daily at shelters all over the world. We have a tendency to dismiss the older
dog in favor of the puppy. Six years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. My dog, Wrangler,
had passed away a few months before and my house was much too empty. I decided to take a look at
the dogs for adoption at a local shelter. I brought neither leash nor collar. My intention was
merely to look. As I walked past the row of cages, one dog caught my eye. She was a Lab X, just as
my Wrangler had been. I glanced at the paper hanging from her cage and saw that she was estimated
to be about four years old. She stood on her back legs and her paws reached my shoulders. She was
almost taller than me. This was not at all what I had in mind. I wanted a medium sized, younger
I wandered to the end of the row and turned to leave. As I passed her cage, she was lying down,
face resting on the hard, cold cement. Only her eyes looked up at me. They were the eyes of my
Wrangler! I noticed the date on the paper. This was to be her last day on Earth. I left the shelter
with a new leash, new collar, and a new perspective. I named her Pepper. The dog that sat in the
passenger seat and halfway across my lap, was not exactly what I had in mind. As I drove from the
shelter, I knew I had made a decision of the heart. I now had a "pound puppy…a death row dog", and
vowed to give her a better life.
Being a responsible pet owner, I made an appointment to have her spayed. Pepper apparently had
other ideas. As I opened the door one day, she bolted past me, only to return a few hours later
looking very tired. Two weeks later, when she should have been undergoing anesthesia in preparation
of her spaying, I was being handed information on the birth of puppies! On January 4, 1995, Pepper
presented me with thirteen of the most adorable Lab X puppies I have ever seen! My house was no
longer empty. It was full of love!
Read more on the heart-warming life of Little
Bit, a Pepper puppy born a non-breather, who now spends his time breathing life and happiness
into the lives of the elderly as a therapy dog. Another decision of the heart…keeping the blind
runt of the litter.
Story by Arlene and featured in Storytime Tapestry and