By SCOTT PESZNECKER
Merita Callaway stood outside her Forest Meadows home yesterday with the sun on her face. Behind her back, she held a slimy, green tennis ball.
Standing a step in front of her frantically wagging her tail was Dixie, the once-condemned 2-year-old Dalmatian mix who made headlines last fall.
Suddenly Callaway, the Calaveras County District 3 supervisor, hurled the ball down the street.
Dixie sprang before the ball even left Callaway's hand.
After the playful canine retrieved the ball, Callaway threw it again. And again, Dixie fetched.
Again and again.
Every once in awhile, Callaway interrupted the game by lifting her hand about chest-high. Dixie responded by sitting, and was rewarded with a treat. A couple neighbors on late-morning strolls also stopped to pet the canine.
Finally, Dixie retreated to a patch of shade and collapsed into a panting pile of fur.
Callaway, who has officially adopted Dixie, watched affectionately. She said Dixie falls in love with anyone who throws her tennis ball.
"She's not a dog who should have been put down," said Callaway. "Since the day I took her out of the kennel, Dixie has adapted just fine."
Dog almost gone
In December, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors spared Dixie from being euthanized. She'd been dropped off at the county animal shelter in September after allegedly showing aggressive behavior toward a delivery man and a family member. County policy was to euthanize aggressive dogs that were brought to the shelter, unless reclaimed by their owners.
But a neighbor of Dixie's original owner said the dog was not aggressive. She tried unsuccessfully to adopt Dixie from the animal shelter, but was not allowed to do so.