AUGUSTA — Cabela, a 12-week-old shepherd mix, came a long way to join her new family, the Thompsons, at their Chelsea home.

Three weeks after returning from a year serving in Afghanistan, and just a couple of weeks after having to have his former dog put down, Steve Thompson; his wife, Jordan; and their 17-month-old son, Brayden, were ready to have a brown-and-black-furred, cold-nosed new Southern companion.

“The house was too quiet,” Steve Thompson said before adopting their new pup Friday at the Kennebec Valley Humane Society.

The Thompson household isn’t going to be too quiet anymore, judging by the rowdiness of Cabela and her young littermates as they bounded around in their kennel Friday, stepping on each other’s faces for the best position from which to lick and nibble at the fingers of visitors.

“They’re typical puppies,” Melanie Martinez, director of operations for the Kennebec Valley Humane Society, said. “They’ve got to be trained, and they chew things. So be ready.”

The young dogs arrived about two weeks ago from Alabama, where they were rescued from a crowded shelter.

They would have been euthanized if they had not been transferred elsewhere, according to Hillary Roberts, executive director of the Augusta shelter. They were first put up for adoption Friday morning.

Martinez said puppies tend to get adopted quickly.

“Tomorrow will be crazy here; Saturday is always our busiest day anyway,” Martinez said Friday.

The Augusta animal shelter partnered with Puppy Pipeline to rescue the dogs and have them transported to Augusta.

Roberts said the shelter was fortunate to have the kennel space, and she is confident the shelter will be able to find the puppies loving homes.

The adoption fee for the Southern puppies is $250, up from the usual $150 adoption charge for puppies. Martinez said that reflects the additional cost of transporting the pups to Maine and additional care and preparation for them.

More information is available by contacting the Kennebec Valley Humane Society at 626-3491, ext. 100, or online at www.pethavenlane.org.

The pups have been in the Augusta shelter for two weeks, where they were cared for, socialized and observed. Each has been spayed or neutered, received routine vaccinations and had health evaluations.

The 10 puppies included four shepherd mixes, four redbone hound mixes, one Lab mix and one boxer mix — though they were down to eight pups by Friday afternoon, as two had already been adopted.

The already-adopted included a 14-month-old Lab mix who went home with Mark and Wendy Labrecque, of Cornville.

“That Lab is my favorite, she’s a real sweetheart, she just loves everyone to pieces,” Martinez said. “She’s just like, ‘I love you, take me home.'”

Which is exactly what the Labrecques did, to their home in the country where their new family member — whom they hadn’t settled on a name for yet — will have plenty of room to play.

“We met her and just had to have her,” Wendy Labrecque said.

Mark Labrecque said they had been looking for a dog for some time, searching area shelters.

Their new puppy returned their affection, licking their faces so much Mark Labrecque joked he could barely see out his glasses.

Before heading out the shelter door to its new home, the Labrecques’ new pup met up in the lobby with a boxer mix — another of the rescued Southern puppies — with which she had shared a kennel in the shelter.

The two friends exchanged big licks before parting — one to a home in Cornville, the other back into the kennel to await its new adoptive family.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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