How could we choose?

Randy Dewberry, a retired nuclear engineer, and his wife are down to the wire. He writes:

It was now 2 o’clock and the puppies were to be there by 3. I reached into the pen with the idea I would choose the first one that came to me. They all came at the same time. Grab one, any one, I told myself.

The brown girl, with the one blue eye and one brown eye; the two identical short-hair all-black puppies with slate gray eyes; the medium-hair black puppy with two white feet went into the large, open box in the back seat of the car.

It was done.

I closed the gate, then stopped, turned to look at our two adult dogs that had been pushed aside. What if the homes the puppies go to are better than what we have to offer? I thought, “We are taking them all.”

A bit of trickery but if they saw these beautiful puppies then maybe we could make something happen.

For a half-hour, the puppies pleaded with us to go back home, and more than once I tapped the brake with just that idea. We both knew we could not look at each other or we would turn back.

We had never seen this place before. Later, when we compared thoughts, we figured it would be a tin shack with tiny dog pens popped up like mushrooms after a good rain. The Google map brought us right to the front door of a clean-looking block building with not a hint of those tiny cages stuck up in uncut grass.

“Not bad,” my wife said. “But cut and run is still the order of the day.” We agreed she would go in and I would, like a bank-robber driver, keep the motor running.

She came back and motioned to let the window down.

“Did you tell her we brought all nine?” “Yes, but from her face, she is not happy.”

“What do you think about the place on the inside?”

“Much better than I expected,” she said. “Clean, and friendly looking.”

I picked up the big box and knew I only had minutes to come back and get the five other puppies. It was the hottest day of the year.

I pushed the door open with my shoulder and went right to the woman I guessed was Dalva, then tilted the box her way.

“Aren’t they beautiful?” I said. “Yes,” she agreed. “They are so fat and healthy-looking.” Before she could say anything else, I said I would get the others.

She pointed to a little room with a glass-viewing window. “Take them to that little room there until I can finish what I am doing.”

When I brought in our dog carrier with the other five puppies we sat in the room and watched what appeared to be the shelter’s busiest day.

People came in and out of the room to see the puppies and comment on their demeanor, not knowing that they had cried themselves out on the 40-mile trip and it was nap time.

Dalva finished an abused dog case and, after a few orders to her staff, came into the room.

“So you brought them all,” she said. I sheepishly nodded. For the next few minutes she picked up each puppy, then smiled and chose another.

“They are very healthy-looking,” she said. I think she was surprised how healthy they looked.

“I just don’t know if they will take any of them to Florida, but if they do, the place they are going to is very, very nice with excellent homes for the puppies.”

She picked up another. “Such sweet puppies and so nice-looking.” We both nodded like we had bred these puppies ourselves. “What about food? Did you bring their food?”

“No, but we will go buy some for you,” I said.

‘Then we will see about the transfer in the morning,” she said.

“All nine?” I asked.

“Yes, but if the transfer fails, you will come get them.”


When we got back with a giant bag of puppy food, she had the puppies in three larger cages still in the viewing room, and they were sound asleep. Sunday morning came and went with no phone call. I called the shelter at 3, but no one answered the phone. We debated all night long if that was good or bad. Monday morning I called Dalva.

“Mr. Randy,” she said, her voice bubbling. “Your puppies are in Vero Beach waiting to get a little bigger before they are adopted.”

I hesitated before I spoke because that lump was back in my throat.

“All nine?”

“Yes,” she said. “All nine. They loved them.”

The pen is empty and we both miss the puppies, but when we think of their life as wild dogs, if their mother had lived, we know we did right by them and their mother did not die in vain.

Randy calls Dalva a hero and praises the Humane Society. “Every day is money crunch day for them.”

The Douglas-Coffee County Humane Society is at 620 Iron Rd., Douglas, Ga. 31533.

I’d have to add that the Fayette County Animal Shelter is just as conscientious and would appreciate donations too, at 1262 Georgia Hwy. 74 South, Peachtree City, Ga. 30269.

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