Man's best friends find best friends

On the brink of his eighth birthday, James Gardner was hesitant about a mop-topped dog his family had apparently taken a liking to Saturday at a pet adoption event at Michael Hohl Subaru.

Upon seeing Einstein's eyes peeking out from beneath a mane of half-curly, half-straight hair, James couldn't have cared less. But dad Gerald Gardner - ignoring an earlier admonition to himself that he shouldn't adopt a dog - immediately fell in love with the 7-month-old, floppy-eared pup. And the bulk of the Gardner clan - mom Stephanie, Bennett, 9, and 2-year-old Julia - had quickly followed suit. Still, James wasn't going to be so easily conned. Einstein would step toward him, and James would back away. Someone gave James a treat to feed the dog, and when Einstein went for it, James dropped it.

"I've been dropping things all day," he explained, dismissing the notion he was afraid.

Stephanie said the family once rescued a dog, which refused to accept Gerald into the fold, but when it started nipping at the kids, they had to find it a new home.

She suspected James' hesitation was because that other hound scared him.

But Einstein was different. He just wanted to play and flop and rollover in search of a belly scratch. James, however, was unimpressed.

Then something happened. With Gerald holding the leash, and James' indifference apparent, the crew of five took Einstein outside for a test walk.

The volunteers taking part in the adoption event watched from the dealership showroom with fingers crossed that the Gardners would be the first to adopt a pet this day.

After a short time they all came back inside.

Gerald knelt down next to his middle child and asked once again what he thought.

"You're the only hold out," said Dad, "Can we take him home?"

James paused and eyed the fluffy nemesis, then stated simply, "OK."

The family cheered and James grabbed the leash. As they left the dealership, James walked Einstein to the car.

The adoption clinic was part of Carson High School student Nathan Bartosz's senior project.

Partnering with the dog-friendly Subaru dealership, and enlisting help from the Carson Tahoe SPCA, Carson City Animal Shelter and Pups on Parole, Bartosz set up kennels to house six adoptable dogs.

"This is not a typical Saturday here," said Subaru General Manager Matthew Hohl.

By 2 p.m. Cassidy, a pit bull mix puppy with a muzzle the color of gray flannel, and Dixie, from the Nevada State Prison's Pups on Parole program, also had been adopted.

Bartosz was pleased with the success of the event.

"Half the ones we brought here got adopted," he said. "That makes me feel awesome. Just to find one a home makes it worthwhile."


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