One bite started this tale of two dogs.
Marvin, a Charlotte dog, bit a young girl at a baseball game 10 years ago. He had to be quarantined and have an identifying chip placed in him before going back to his family, the Dixons. He was becoming a burden.
Marvin was an Australian Shepherd and had always liked playing rough. While good-natured, he was not a fit for a family with young kids. The Dixons loved Marvin, but decided they had to give him away. Cara, then 6, and Alex, 8, cried at the news.
“It absolutely broke our hearts, but we couldn’t take care of him,” said their dad, John Dixon.
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The family placed an ad in The Charlotte Observer for a “free dog.” Giving a dog to strangers can be risky. The dog could be abused by a new owner. And taking a dog to a shelter means the dog could be euthanized if not adopted.
In the Dixons’ case, a family responded to the ad and took Marvin away.
The Dixons adopted a new, more docile dog. Snickers had skin problems and the family thought he might not be adopted because of that and would be euthanized.
He was a loving dog, but never as playful as Marvin. But he became their beloved family dog.
Then last year, Snickers became sick with failing kidneys. The family had to make the tough decision to put Snickers down.
The Dixons were devastated. “It broke my heart,” John Dixon said. “It was extremely painful.”
In February, a month and a half later, everything changed with one call.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control was on the line. John Dixon still remembers the conversation:
Are you missing a dog?
No, not that I know of.
I haven’t had Marvin in 10 years.
The caller said they identified the dog based on a chip. It was Marvin. If not adopted, he would be euthanized. That month, nearly 24 percent of shelter dogs would be euthanized in Mecklenburg County.
The family had to act fast.
“Don’t you kill that dog,” John Dixon said he told the animal shelter. The family decided to pay the $10 adoption fee. Dixon worried Marvin still might be aggressive and had turned mean.
He turned out to be the same playful dog. The only difference is that he’s now older and calmer.
Marvin seemed to remember their house and even knew which door to use. He now spends his days playing with his rubber ball, barking and lounging in the sun – typical dog stuff.
Snickers probably would have been put down 10 years ago if the family hadn’t given Marvin away and gone looking for a new dog. Marvin would probably have been put down earlier this year if Snickers hadn’t died.
John Dixon says the dogs saved each other.
Tyler Fleming; 704-358-5355, @tyler_fleming96