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This dog's Great White Whale is a bright green toy that was recently discontinued. Luckily a heroic PetSmart employee stepped in to save the day.
There is only one toy that Jaxon the dog enjoys, and he truly and literally loves this toy to bits. It is a green plush alligator with big, cute eyes and two little, pointed teeth; and it's only sold at PetSmart.
"He loves Greenie," Kelli Brown, Jaxon's human mom, told TODAY in an email. "Mostly he likes to lay his head on it when he’s lounging on the couch, and he also gives it tiny bites. He’s not a chewer and he’s never even squeaked the squeaker."
This is an enduring love. Jaxon got his first Greenie in his Christmas stocking, right after he was adopted at the age of 8 from the Bowling Green Warren County Humane Society, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in December of 2014. It was love at first bite.
In the years since, Brown, who is 40 and lives in Bowling Green, has tried to entice her dog into enjoying other toys. She has a house full of them since Jaxon's 9-year-old dog brother, Punkin, adopted from Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, is rather indiscriminate in his tastes.
Jaxon's not having it. He won't play with these others or nibble them, or nap on them. It's Greenie or bust for this guy. Jaxon is 12 years old now, and knows what he likes. And what he likes is Greenie.
Jaxon usually goes through two Greenies per year, which means Brown makes regular trips to her local PetSmart to replenish the dog's supply. But in January, when Brown went to pick up some new ones, there were none to be found.
A salesperson told Brown the toy had been discontinued, so she went home to search online, but struck out there, too. Saying Brown panicked is "the understatement of the century," she said. "It was like they’d disappeared completely!"
Brown then put out a desperate tweet. "I thought some PetSmart employee would see my post, tell me they had a couple in their store, I’d call and pay them over the phone and hope they’d get shipped," she said. "That’s really all I expected (or) hoped for. Just a few Greenies for my boy!"
You know how the internet works. It's like magic, sometimes. Brown's tweet got noticed and retweeted by some prominent dog tweeters. (Yes, that's a thing.) Soon the world at large took notice — including Kendyl Kercho, a 21-year-old college student who lives in Lake Worth, Texas, and who has been working at her local PetSmart for about three years now.
Kercho saw the tweet and sprung right into action to make sure Jaxon wouldn't be without his Greenie.
"If anyone had the power to help this little guy, it's me," she told TODAY.
There were no stuffed alligators for sale on the store's regular racks. So Kercho dug through the clearance bins in the back of the store. Underneath a big pile of marked-down merchandise, she found eight of Jaxon's precious Greenies.
"I just didn't want him to go without someone trying," Kercho said.
She estimates she spent about $20 buying up the toys, and then shipped them over to Jaxon. Kercho said she wouldn't even accept any repayment for the toys.
"Really, the greatest part of it is seeing how happy the little dog was," Kercho said. "I just love dogs so much."
Jaxon was indeed thrilled to receive his package in late February. He took one stuffed alligator right out of the box like it was an old friend. (Brown's hidden the rest away for safekeeping.)
The internet has been thrilled too, going wild over Jaxon and Greenie — and the kind stranger who helped them to stay together.
"It’s been awesome to be a small part of something so positive," Brown said, adding that she hopes people will come away inspired to both search for and give help generously.
"People are so good," she said. "I mean really, really good."