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A new pup, a bright New Year

SOUTHERN CRESCENT — Maryjoe Morrison could hardly control the salty tears that streamed down her face on a sunny Sunday morning. No, they were not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy and appreciation.

The North Carolina native’s prayers were answered on that day as she held her new French bulldog tightly in her arms.

“I’m so happy,” Morrison said with a smile that stretched from ear-to-ear. “This is all God’s doing.” Unable to speak at times because of her tears, she held the 16-week-old pup even tighter in her arms.

Morrison’s buoyant nature and overwhelming gratitude was the result of an ad her sister, Marla Peters, posted on Craigslist and an act of kindness from Southern Crescent dog breeders Wanda Gillespie and Howard Scrivens.

The sisters posted the ad during the holidays, in hopes that someone would be willing to donate a French bulldog.

Morrison was diagnosed with advanced Lymphoma in 2010 and has since undergone several chemotherapy treatments and biopsy surgeries to remove tumors the size golf balls from her body. On top of her physical ailments, her boyfriend of 10 years suddenly ended their relationship, which left an even greater hole in her heart.

“He bailed!” said Peters. “He told her he couldn’t handle the sickness anymore.”

With the stress from the chemo treatments and now a broken heart, Morrison sank into depression.

To lift her spirits, Peters, who has been by her sister’s side every step of the way, suggested some animal therapy.

“I did a lot research on French bulldogs,” said Morrison. “My sister had one and they have loving, intelligent and caring personalities. Having a dog around can give you a good outlook on life.”

The ad, which contained Morrison’s picture and personal story, was on Craigslist for a few weeks. Morrison said she received one negative response, scolding her for using her sickness to beg for charity.

“It was very nasty,” said Morrison. “I wanted to take the ad down. I didn’t want people thinking I was begging for charity.”

However, unbeknownst to Morrison, Gillespie and Scrivens were monitoring the ad.

“Wanda was the one who saw the ad first. I was a little skeptical at first,” said Scrivens. “There are so many con artists and scams that go on nowadays.”

But, after some research and fact checking, Scrivens and Gillespie decided that the ad was legit. Just when Morrison was about to take the ad down, she received a phone call from Scrivens, wanting to give her one of their French bulldogs.

“I’m just amazed of how the power of God works,” said Morrison. “I could never afford to buy a dog like this.”

Gillespie, who has been a dog breeder for 20 years, sells pure bred French Bulldogs from $1,000 to $2,500.

“These dogs are not cheap!” exclaimed Scrivens, who only recently became business partners with Gillespie. Together, they own and operate Southern Star French Bulldog, (www.southernstarfrenchbulldogs.com).

“These dogs can sell for up to $5,000,” said Scrivens.

The sisters drove four hours from North Carolina to Georgia, to unite Morrison with her new canine, who she named “Dewy, because all things are doable.”

When the sisters arrived at Gillespie’s home on that bright and sunny Sunday morning, they were greeted with warm hugs, dog paws and dog kisses. The atmosphere was filled with love and a hint of cinnamon apple that lingered in the air, from the burning scented candle.

Scrivens said both he and Gillespie were moved by Morrison’s story and wanted to do something to give back.

“I, too, had a rough couple of years,” said Scrivens. In 2011, he lost his mother, a nephew who passed away from brain cancer, and recently his father became severely ill and currently resides in an assistant living facility, in Florida. He added he also had a French bulldog that passed away.

Gillespie said she lost her husband a few years ago to cancer.

“Cancer is something that touches everybody and we wanted to do something that would make someone else happy. It was the right thing to do,” she said.

Scrivens said French bulldogs make the best companions.

“They’re lazy dogs,” said Scrivens. “All they do is eat, sleep, fart and chew up your furniture. But they are so loyal and will love you unconditionally. They really are the best kind of dog to have.”

“This is going to be a bright year for me,” said Morrison. “Having Dewy is going to be a new form of healing for me, I know it. I’m just so grateful to God.”