When you are 11, joy is supposed to last forever. Then young Julian lost his dog to the horrors of Parvo. The boy was devastated.

Julian’s parents wanted to get him another dog without the risk of another calamity, so they chose the Aiken County Animal Shelter, where all of the dog’s health needs – heartworm testing, shots, worming, and spay or neuter – would be taken care of, along with a microchip, for one low fee.

The family went to Petfinder.com and found the right dog: a big, solid, pitbull mix, and the shelter was even offering a half-price special. They could have it all for only $35.

Mom, Dad, Julian, his 8-year old sister Heather, and the “Ruler-of-the-Roost,” Bella, a year-old “Yorchiwini” (Yorkie+Dachsy+Chihuahua), all piled in the car to go get their new dog. But when they arrived, they were told that dog had already been adopted.

“Would you like to see some others?” asked FOTAS Volunteer and Adoption Counselor Caroline. “We have some fantastic dogs available.”

Out came Arthur, a beautiful, lovable, rambunctious bull terrier mix. They went all together into the play yard. Arthur didn’t care too much about the family or the children. Arthur wanted to play with Bella. Bella did not like his game. Arthur was overbearing, and she couldn’t seem to get him to recognize her station in life. Arthur was not going to work.

Next came Luke. Luke was a big powerful bulldog-pit-Sharpei mix, 2 years old. Julian took one look and smiled the biggest smile in weeks. Luke deferred to Bella and loved playing with the children. It looked like a perfect match; until the case card read “Not good with cats.” The cat was at home, her home.

What about Diesel? He was a lovely boxer. Four years old and he had raised Luke. They had been surrendered together and Diesel shared the pen with Luke. Luke was playing with the children. Luke was playing with Bella. When Diesel came down to the play yard, he joined the fun and frolic. Bella, completely in charge of the two big dogs, thought either one would do just fine. But what about the cat?

The information on the card was wrong. That cat business pertained to another dog. Luke was fine with cats. Now the dilemma was what to do about Luke’s life-long partner Diesel?

“Buy one, get one free!” said a happy boy when the family decided to take both dogs.

Luke pats Bella on her head with his big paw. Bark! And the chase is on! The big dogs sleep in Julian’s room. The cat reigns supreme.

Lessons from this happy tail: You get a deal when you rescue a pet at the County Shelter – and you save a life. County Shelter dogs and cats are health and temperament tested and volunteers work with them daily. Dogs are pack animals. If you must leave your dog for prolonged periods, you’d do better with two.

Buy one, get one free – this week only!

FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, contact info@fotasaiken.org or visit FOTAS online at www.fotasaiken.org.

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

May 20 through 24, 2013

Brought in: 43 dogs and 63 cats

Adopted: 11 dogs and 4 cats

Put down: 36 dogs and 43 cats!

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