MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota puppy that made headlines when it was saved from a likely deadly trip through the mail went home with a new owner Friday – an exuberant Minneapolis woman who was thrilled to welcome the fuzzy black dog into her life.
"I never win anything," said Terri Ford, who threw her arms in the air in excitement after learning she had won the drawing for Guess, a 5-month-old schnauzer-poodle mix.
Nearly 50 people went to a Minneapolis animal shelter Friday in hopes of adopting Guess. Animal control officials held a drawing for the puppy's new owner – Ford's name was drawn first, and she passed the application process.
Ford, who wouldn't give her age, said she lives alone and is unemployed, so she has plenty of time to housebreak a dog.
"I think it might be good to get out of my pajamas and out of the house," she said before the drawing.
Dressed in a long, pink coat, glittery boots and earrings with the word "rebel" on them, Ford said she heard about Guess on the news.
The puppy became a celebrity three weeks ago after postal workers heard noise coming from a box addressed to Georgia and saw the package move. They opened it to find the dog inside. Officials say the trip would have killed the puppy. His former owner, 29-year-old Stacey Champion, has been charged with animal cruelty. She was attempting to mail Guess to her son as a birthday present.
Hundreds of callers from Minnesota and around the world asked to adopt Guess, who became city property Monday when Champion failed to post bond.
"He tugs at everyone's heartstrings," Ford said. "He's not only adorable, but he's gone through some trauma."
Ford, who used to be a legal assistant, said she already has a black cat named Danvers, after the character Mrs. Danvers in an Alfred Hitchcock film. She said she will think of a new name for Guess and expects him to get along great with her cat. She admitted, however, that she hasn't yet asked her landlord for permission to have a dog.
Shelter officials have been excited about the attention Guess generated and have used it to draw attention to other homeless animals. Ten pets were adopted last week, shelter official Jeanette Wiedemeier Bower said. Usually, only one or two animals are adopted per week this time of year, she said.
Before and after the drawing, visitors toured the animal cages and admired other dogs and cats that were up for grabs. Six more animals were adopted after Friday's drawing.
"He has really allowed us to turn lemons into lemonade," Wiedemeier Bower said of Guess.
Although she doesn't know the family, Debi Douglas, of St. Paul, hoped to win the puppy and return it to Champion's son. Douglas came very close to making that happen; her name was chosen second in the drawing.
"I'm an advocate for an innocent child getting his birthday gift," Douglas said. "We were all children at one point in time, right?"