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Happy Tail: A family’s search nets a princess


The Hawkins family was looking for a “doodle” — a poodle mix — to adopt. “I scoured Petfinder daily, trying to find the perfect family dog,” says Kirsten, the mom in the family. “We searched our local shelters and found a nice dog, but the dog didn’t seem to care if we existed. He was fine, but distant — and not perfect for us.”

Another dog caught their attention on Petfinder. Her name was Emma. Better Days Animal League in Shippensburg, PA, had taken her from an open-admission shelter, and she had been adopted once but returned because the family said she was too needy.


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When the Hawkins family saw Emma on the shelter’s pet list, Kirsten says, “My thoughts of a doodle went right out the window.” They made an appointment to meet the adorable pooch.

“When we arrived at the shelter,” Kirsten says, “Emma was the smallest dog in her pen. A Cocker Spaniel mix, she was too big for the ‘small dog’ pen and so small that, we discovered later, the bigger dogs had been stealing her food for months.”

Emma was as excited and bouncy as the family’s two boys. “We couldn’t have left her there if we’d tried. She literally jumped onto the desk as we signed her adoption papers,” Kirsten says. She rode on Kirsten’s lap all the way back to their home in Silver Spring, MD.

She does crave attention, but that’s not been a problem for the Hawkins. “She follows me around all day, gently and patiently waiting to be noticed,” Kirsten says.

Doodle or not, she was the dog they’d been dreaming of. They changed her name to Xena, like the warrior princess in the TV series, a fitting name for their own princess.

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