Karen Rigdon got an early Christmas present in the form of a shiny black dog with brown eyes.
Rigdon found Sadie, a female Labrador retriever mix she recently adopted, not in an animal shelter or pet shop but shivering between outdoor newspaper boxes at the Martinez post office.
"I went every day just about," the Evans resident said. "I fed her and talked to her. Once or twice she let me touch her head, but then she growled at me."
Kathy Anderson, a co-owner of Franklin's Printing, which faces the post office, said Sadie, who was scared, cold and hungry, would growl and bark at anyone approaching the newspaper boxes. Still, for the several weeks Sadie hung around the post office, numerous people came by to give her food, water and attention. Some even tried to capture the elusive canine.
"My husband said he has wasted $500 on his employees coming up there to the front watching that dog," Anderson said. "Everybody in our shop that worked there would come up front and check on how the dog was doing."
When it became evident that Sadie did not want to be caught, people began leaving dog beds, wood shavings and dog houses to help keep her warm and safe.
Cathy Baker, the manager of Animal Boutique on Old Evans Road, said she and her sister and the shop owner, Wanda Rollins, heard about Sadie and took a doghouse and a blanket.
The pair heard the dog might have recently given birth to puppies and went searching the woods on Thanksgiving Day.
Anderson said she had given the dog food and water, too. Her employees kept an eye on her.
But when Sadie began snarling at visitors, barking and showing her teeth, Anderson said, she called Columbia County Animal Care and Control because she was worried Sadie might hurt someone. Animal Care and Control officers couldn't catch Sadie, either, so they put out a dog trap, which Sadie avoided.
Despite those efforts, Rigdon was determined to give Sadie a home.
"I took her KFC meals," Rigdon said, adding that she already owns a black Labrador named Riley. "I was doing anything to get that dog, as long as she was going to get along with my dog."
On Nov. 28, Rigdon got lucky - she was able to get Sadie into her vehicle. She said she took Sadie to Animal Boutique to stay until she could be checked out by a vet. Apparently, Sadie made herself at home during her weeklong stay there, never having to stay in a kennel. Baker said Rigdon visited Sadie about three times a day during her stay.
"You'd have thought she lived here forever," Baker said of Sadie, who was allowed to wander the shop. "She was wonderful."
Only a week after spending nights huddled between newspaper boxes for warmth, Sadie was taken to her new home, Rigdon's house, which came complete with a playmate - Riley.
"They romped around that backyard and had the best time," Rigdon said. "... It's now amazing how much she changed. She is so different."
Rigdon said that the two dogs have become best friends and that Sadie, who was named for her sad situation, seems to be fitting into Rigdon's family just fine.
"I love that dog," Rigdon said. "She is so sweet."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.