Chase’s mom, Tristan, had been in and out of the hospital pretty near all his young life. Two liver transplants failed to save her, and she passed away last June, a devastating loss for the seven-year-old.

Chase went to live with his mom’s big sister Adadra, her husband, their three young children, and his grandma. Even the great-grandparents live behind their property in Williston.

A photograph of the smiling child and his lovely young mother depicts the change in the boy since his mother’s passing.

Duplicate pairs of hazel-blue eyes smile out of glowing faces framed by auburn hair and matching red tops. When his mother died, the child withdrew into the darkness of his grief.

Chase always wanted a dog, and as his eighth birthday approached on Nov. 30, the family decided that it might be good for the boy to have one. They had a big fenced yard, and a dog might help the child to find his way back to a smiling childhood.

They decided on a rescue and looked for shelters in the area.

“Barnwell County’s shelter was closed,” Adadra said, “So that’s what brought us to Aiken.”

“There were lots and lots of really cute dogs, but they were really feisty. I think Chase was a little overwhelmed.”

They were about to leave and continue on to other shelters when a volunteer dog-walker came up with a young red dog who seemed very calm.

“It was truly something amazing to see,” said Adadra, “It was as if the dog knew Chase, and Chase knew the dog. She walked up to him quietly, and when Chase knelt to pet her, she gave him her paw.”

The boy lit up. “I want this one!” he said, “And I’m going to call her Charlee.”

Chase took Charlee for a walk up the trails. She was perfect. Even when coaxed to continue looking to be really sure, he insisted that Charlie was the one.

“They picked each other,” Adadra said, “Charlee is so sweet and calm. Even with our 6-month-old baby she is gentle. It’s like she knows. …”

Chase and Charlee are inseparable. They go for a jog in the morning around the yard, and Chase’s grandma made Charlee a bed, and she sleeps right next to Chase every night. Charlee even has her own stocking to hang for Santa.

“It’s practically full already,” Adadra laughs.

The tiny miracle that began in the tight confines of the Aiken County shelter has convinced one Williston family that the unquestioning love and companionship of the right dog can be the best medicine there is.

“I’d recommend it to anyone,” Adadra said, and you know she is thinking about her young nephew and the way a rescued dog helped him laugh again.

Find love at the shelter. If you don’t quite believe it, try fostering for Christmas. There is no better medicine than the love of the right dog. Ask Chase, and Merry Christmas to all!

FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, email or visit

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

Happy Stats for 2012

FOTAS Transfer Program shipped 511 dogs to great homes up north this year!

FOTAS Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) and Lenny’s Brigade fixed more than 160 cats and dogs in Wagener-Salley since Aug. 1!

Aiken County Shelter “Pets of the Week!”

All adoptions price for the rest of the year! Foster for Christmas!

*All adoption fees include: Spay/Neuter, heartworm test, all shots, worming, and microchip.