Shelby County woman to sleep 48 hours in kennel on behalf of pit bull

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Paula Sparrow of Mount Eden plans to spend the weekend in a dog kennel.

By Lisa King

Paula Sparrow will be living a dog’s life this weekend, but spending Friday and Saturday in a dog kennel is a sacrifice she said she embraces in order to try to get a good dog a home.

“He’s a sweet, wonderful dog, and it’s not right that he has to be a shelter dog,” Sparrow said of “Boss Man,” a pit/bulldog mix that for the past 18 months has been at Tyson’s Chance rescue shelter for dogs on Kentucky Street.

Sparrow, an animal rescue volunteer, said she is taking such an extreme measure because, even though Boss is a great dog, she doesn’t believe he would be adopted otherwise because his breed does not have a good reputation for being suitable family pets.

“He keeps getting passed up because he is a pitbull mix,” she said. “So I thought, what can I do to bring attention to this dog?”

Sparrow is no stranger to being a champion for animals. A columnist for Kentucky Living magazine for the past 18 years, she has been writing her Creature Comforts column for the magazine since 2003. In 2009, in her book Kentucky Living’s Creature Comforts, Sparrow dedicatedmore than 147 pages to highlighting the state’s animal sanctuaries.

Why is she so passionate about the plight of animals?

“Kentucky is one of the worst states in the country as far as animal advocacy,” she said. “I wanted to spread some good news, so I write cheerful, happy, good-ending stories about wonderful people that are out there that you don’t hear about who have dedicated their lives to saving animals. I’m pretty sure I have done a story on every animal you can find in Kentucky, from kangaroos to possums to dogs.”

Sparrow said she gladly would adopt Boss herself, but the presence of a 5-year-old, still-energetic dog would disrupt the lives of older dogs she already has on her farm in Mount Eden.

Besides, she said, she also has cats, and she’s not sure Boss gets along with them.

Sparrow, who walks dogs for Tyson’s Chance, watched Wednesday as employees mopped an already immaculate floor around the 6-by-6 foot indoor kennel she will be sharing with the dog this weekend. She talked about Boss, whose ears perked up at the mention of his name.

“I first met him a year and a half ago at a different shelter,” she said, explaining that he was picked up as a stray, and was in poor health at that time.

“He got in a bad way at that shelter, and I thought he was going to die,” she said, declining to name the shelter.

She called Ashley Shelburne, owner of Tyson’s Chance, who told her to bring Boss over, she said.

“So we got him healthy and happy, and he’s doing really well, and everybody here loves him,” she said.

Kennel Manager Lacy Lyons, who had been mopping, stopped to add, “He really is the perfect dog. He’s so loving. He would make a great family dog – he’s just amazing.”

Another employee, Amanda Lewis, who had also come over to pet Boss, echoed that opinion.

“He gets along with all the other dogs here, and he loves to play ball and he loves to play in water, but he’s not too sure what to do with a Frisbee,” she said. “You just couldn’t ask for a better dog,” she said, adding that she would adopt him herself except that she doesn’t have an adequate place to keep him.

Another employee, Michelle Bruner, called her herself Boss’ social media coordinator as she stopped to take photos of him with her phone.

“He’s awesome – everybody love Boss Man, and he loves everybody,” she said.

Though he could stay at the shelter, not only is that not fair to Boss, but he is taking up space that could be used for another dog, Sparrow said.

She said that Lewis’ observation about how Boss gets along with the shelter’s 35 other dogs is an important consideration for people who might think about adopting him.

“He has never shown an ounce of aggression; he is really a submissive dog, toward both animals and people,” she said. “He’s even had obedience trained [from Sparrow].”

Eying the kennel, she talked about how she would spend 48 hours there, beginning tonight at 5.

“I will stay in here with him, sleep with him, go potty when he does,” she said. “But I won’t eat his food,” she said with a chuckle.

Shelburne said she wasn’t surprised when Sparrow approached her with the idea of spending 48 hours in a dog kennel.

“She’s crazy and amazing,” Shelburne said, laughing. “To me, it’s really great that she came up with this idea. She has really been his angel. She’s a really sweet lady who really cares about animals.”

Sparrow chuckled as she bent down to scratch Boss behind the ears.

“My dream is for him to get a good home with a real family,” she said. “The only thing is, whoever adopts him, well, they’ll probably have to adopt me, too.”