"Tag" became news Tuesday when his photograph ran on the front page of The Oak Ridger in a story about adoption issues at the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter. The old dog looked a bit pitiful as his photo was shot through a cage at the shelter, but a few hours later, it all changed.
"Tag" became news Tuesday when his photograph ran on the front page of The Oak Ridger in a story about adoption issues at the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter.
The old dog looked a bit pitiful as his photo was shot through a cage at the shelter, but a few hours later, it all changed.
Five-year-old Hayden Byrge was looking at the newspaper and said, "Look Momma, that's Tag," recalled Stephanie Hawn, Hayden's grandmother.
His mother, Ashton Sharp, called Hawn and told her and daughter Kayla Massengill to take a look.
Sure enough, the old dog looked like Tag, daughter Kelsie's dog, who had gone missing nearly a year ago.
Hawn and Massengill went to the shelter as soon as they could and began walking around the dog cages, trying to find Tag. It didn't take long before Massengill found him.
Hawn said the reunion was exciting.
"We just cried," she said.
Hawn said Tag is an "odd ball. He looks like a furry Basset hound, and has a black circle on his tongue."
But the biggest reunion was still to come.
Kelsie was in school, so Hawn and Massengill planned a surprise.
They had to overcome one obstacle -- money.
To bail Tag out of the shelter, Hawn needed $225 -- boarding costs and vet fees for the entire time Tag had been housed there.
But Massengill told her mom, "We've got to get him out."
Everything worked out fine.
Shelter Director Rhonda Bender allowed Hawn to adopt Tag for only $60, a standard fee for adopting cats and dogs at the shelter.
Then it was time for Kelsie's surprise.
"I was standing outside," Kelsie recalled. "Mom had the (news)paper and said, 'Look what we found.'
"I told her we need to get him," the teenager said.
Hawn told her about how much it would cost.
But then Massengill told her sister, "Come here."
There with Kayla stood Kelsie's beloved Tag.
Kayla simply said, "Happy birthday." (Kelsie's 15th birthday was two days later on Friday.)
"I just started screaming," Kelsie said.
Now she's not letting Tag get too far from her again.
"He sleeps with me every night," she said.
The Oak Ridger