by BRITTANY HALL
Since the beginning of time dogs have been inspiring us to live more mindfully and love ourselves for who we are, truth be told, they know more about heart than some of us could ever muster into our being. They don’t discriminate or look for the bad in humanity, they just simply want our company and are created for a life-long companionship, even when we aren’t. As if Elvis himself were constantly in their thoughts giving his best performance of, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love with You’, they truly cannot help but to fall in love with us whenever they sense our presence or their puppy dog eyes meet ours, so let’s give back to man’s best friend and show them the same love that they live to give us.
In a recent edition of the Blade, we honored our local four-legged friends by publishing a competition called ‘The Dog Cause’, where over 30 readers sent in the best dog-gone photos of their fur babies to be considered for a cash prize, a winning title and a 50lb supply bag of dog food for the champion to enjoy. To enter the contest, each contestant had to submit the required information as well as a small fee of $5.00 before meeting the deadline of July 20. While this was a contest, it was not in favor of rivalry but was entirely in favor of the dogs, as each proceed made from the competition was donated to the Emanuel County Animal Shelter.
On July 27, Swainsboro native Heather Cook was notified that her 7-year-old Black Labrador Retriever, Harlee, was the winner of the 2022 ‘Dog Cause’ competition. Harlee, who enjoys playing ball, splashing in the pool and water from the sprinkler and hose, was adopted into the Cook home along with her sister Dixie at the age of six weeks old. Although playful, in her winning photo she sat perfectly posed in the middle of a green field, next to her yellow tennis ball, while wearing a genuinely relaxed smile and waiting for her owner to catch the moment. Unbeknownst at the time, it was a moment that would gain the ‘good girl,’ a deserving publicity from a wholesome act that truly embodies the meaning of, ‘The Dog Cause’.
“I was super excited when I was told that Harlee had won!” Cook began to explain with a smile, “My husband Andy, and I don’t have children, but we have our six dogs, Bristol Finn, Lainee Brook, Harlee, Dixie, Lillie, Jake, and Marlee. To us they are our children and to get to showcase them like other parents would do with their kids, is so awesome.”
As Cook and Harlee came to collect their prizes, an act of benevolence stirred within. After taking their congratulatory photo, Cook shared that she wanted the $50.00 check and the 50lbs of dog food to be given to the Emanuel County Animal Shelter. Although, $175.00 was already raised from the competition, her generous request contributed a total of $225.00 which benefitted all the hopeful pups in need.
“There are so many homeless dogs out there that I just wanted to give back to them. I didn’t need the money or dog food, but I knew that they did and that the shelter would get better use of it.” She sincerely said.
It's hard to imagine what life is like within the shelter or how difficult the job may be. There are many dedicated employees who work diligently to provide comfort for the animals while they wait for their forever home, but they still need food, bedding, veterinarian care, medical assistance, and spaying/neutering. Cook’s donation along with the donations of the other contestants who entered the contest, will help provide the care that our abandoned animals deserve until a suitable home is found for them.
“There are so many stray animals out there, dogs and cats included. They all deserve good, healthy, loving homes just as much as your pedigree’s.” Cook added before continuing, “ADOPT when you think of adopting. Don’t just go buy a dog, do your part, and make a difference in the life of an animal who needs you.”
The Cooks are currently in the process of building a Boarding Kennel called, Harley Hill Farm and Kennel, with plans to open after the first of the year. Thank you, Heather, and Andy, for sharing your compassion with those who are so deserving of our love and attention and thank you to the many contestants who donated by simply sharing your cute photos of your pawsome pals. Dogs are not our whole life, but we are theirs and we hope that when you decide to open your homes and hearts to a pet that you will consider an animal in need. If you’re interested in rescuing a pup, please visit the Emanuel County Animal Shelter at 343 Market St, in Swainsboro or contact them at 478-237-4040. True love is a hop, skip, and a dog shelter away.