Return to story
From left, Clark (now named Dozer), Tony and Selena (now Stella), play shortly after being rescued at the King George Landfill last year.
Dozer (left) and Stella play at their recent reunion. The siblings were adopted by different families in the area.
Sheryl Adcock, who adopted Stella, pets Dozer during the dogs' reunion after a year apart. She says the siblings seemed to recognize each other.
Bridgid Maciejewski pets Stella and Dozer, two of the three dogs she rescued last year, as Stella's owner, Sheryl Adcock, looks on.
By CATHY DYSON
Two of the three puppies that survived being dumped in the King George Landfill last year recently returned to the place where their story started.
They didn't look or act anything like the original characters in the sad tale. They no longer were the unwanted offspring that had been put into a trash bag--with water in it--and tossed into a Dumpster when they were so new to life that their umbilical cords were still attached.
Instead, the dogs that romped around were all grown up, with long legs, floppy ears and frisky attitudes as proof.
The humans who brought them to the "family reunion" at the landfill were certain the dogs knew the connections to those around them.
"They're scent hounds," said Sheryl Adcock, one of the adoptive owners, as she pointed to her dog, Stella.
"She probably knows who that is," Adcock said about Bridgid Maciejewski, the landfill employee who took care of the puppies, "and I think she recognizes [the other dog] as her brother."
There were a lot of oohs and aahs and even a few tears on Saturday as dogs sniffed and humans reminisced.
Maciejewski has kept in touch with the owners since she found homes for the dogs last fall, after an extensive application process. Maciejewski, who constantly fosters pets until she finds new owners for them, has monitored the progress of the landfill puppies on Facebook.
But she hadn't seen the pets in the fur for almost a year, and that's why she started trying to arrange an adoption in September, a year after the puppies were found by landfill workers.
As she made calls, she learned, much to her dismay, that the third dog had been given away to someone else. Its first owner wouldn't give her contact information about the second one.
"I just wish I knew where Tony was," Maciejewski said on Saturday, her eyes filling with tears, as the other two dogs climbed into her lap and licked her face. "I spent a lot of sleepless nights, crying, after I found out about that."
Maciejewski and her daughter, Allie, had named the three puppies Tony, Clark and Selena after superheroes because they somehow survived an ordeal that killed their six litter mates.
Then Maciejewski found a "wet nurse," a pregnant yellow Labrador retriever that nursed the three puppies, with her own when they were born, until they were strong enough to be weaned.
Adcock had read about the puppies' plight in newspaper stories. She was particularly drawn to Selena, the only female, who seemed a little slower than the others.
Adcock lives in Stafford County, works with special-education students and has a disabled daughter. She has seen children exceed the expectations placed on them, and guessed the clumsy puppy might do the same.
She was right. Selena--whom she renamed Stella--shows no signs of slowed development. It took her a little longer to grasp the concept of potty training, her owner said, but she has done fine otherwise.
"She's a sweet dog," Adcock said. "I can't imagine somebody dumping her off."
Catherine Poole and Jonathan Martin adopted Clark. They live in Colonial Beach, work in law enforcement and renamed the dog Dozer.
Last fall, the couple had to put down a family pet, a beagle with a ruptured disk. Poole wasn't sure she was ready for another dog, but the little landfill puppy helped her decide.
The first time the group met, Dozer took the leash of the couple's German shepherd, Kiya, and dragged the considerably larger dog around the parking lot.
"They were best friends automatically," Poole said. "Dozer is so loving and loyal, and he's such a sweet dog."
Maciejewski and the two owners have made another discovery: The puppies dropped at the landfill may have a connection to the father of our country.
The group wasn't sure of the puppies' breed at first because they looked like beagles or even Lab mixes. But as they matured--and their legs kept going and going--the group has become certain that the three are American foxhounds.
That's one of the rarest of America's native breeds, according to the American Kennel Club. George Washington developed the foxhound for hunting because he wanted a long-legged and capable dog, known for its "speed, sense and brains."
The American foxhound is the state animal of Virginia.
Maciejewski had but one wish as she thought about the rare breed of puppies that had been treated like garbage.
"I just wish we had all nine of them," she said. "That would be awesome."
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425