Puppy power is in the hands of the people

Published 11:16 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Every once in a while the power of the ink and paper I work with daily comes crashing down on top of me.

Sure, my brain is aware every day of the newspaper’s power to make people smile, make mothers cry and make elected officials firing mad.

But sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of just having a job to do. That’s why it’s special to directly see how our day-to-day affects the days of other people. Or animals.

Email newsletter signup

My dog Suzy is a product of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. I stopped by the Liberty Road shelter about three weeks after I moved to Natchez. Suzy, who then went by the name “Little Mama,” — she’d had puppies at the shelter — was in the first cage up top when you walk through the door.

She was the first one I saw, and something about her reminded me of the dog I’d grown up with.

The humane society worker said she was housetrained and I was sold. We went home together that day.

Nearly four years later, Suzy lives it up in her own bedroom with her own full-size, person bed, plenty of food and air conditioning. She thinks I work too much, but I rationalize in my head that life for her is much better now than it used to be.

Because of Suzy and a life-long love for dogs, I’m partial to dog stories.

So when the annual Bark in the Park rolled around this year I wanted to find a unique way to write a news story previewing the event.

I decided to grab our photographer Marcus and head to the shelter to hang with the dogs, because, after all, it’s about them.

We ended up profiling seven dogs, telling cute stories about their personalities and printing a few up-close and personal photos.

The day after the story and photos were published I got a message from Humane Society President Linda Harper saying all the dogs we featured had been adopted that day.

Two of the dogs adopted had been shelter residents for six months. But one day of publicity was all it took to find the critters homes.

That’s pretty cool.

It wasn’t my writing skills. And though Marcus’ adorable photos surely played a big part, it wasn’t him either.

Our newspaper was only the messenger.

The dogs sent the message.

It’s hard to say no to a cute face — or one that’s so ugly it’s cute — that spends its days, nights and weekends trapped in a tiny cage with no attention. Anyone who has been to the humane society knows the conditions are atrocious.

So when these faces come pouting into homes via a rolled up piece of newsprint, caring people act.

It’s an eye-opener really. When people see something or someone in need they step up.

When they don’t see it, well, it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Though we are considering a way to regularly publish doggy — and kitty — faces somewhere in the newspaper, we can’t put them on the front page every day; there isn’t room.

But whether you see them or not, the animals at the humane society are there, and they need help.

The seven famous-for-a-day dogs got adopted. But they left friends behind. What about those dogs?

If you ask my friends they’ll tell you that I believe every home needs a dog. The shelter has all kinds of dogs for all kinds of people. Breeders offer only one type and usually charge a hefty price.

Besides, those of you who have shelter dogs know they are the best kind. They know where they’ve been, and they are happy to be home. Suzy tells me that every day.

But their lives are in your hands, and you have all the power.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.finley@natchezdemocrat.com.