Mark Smith was at a pet store when he came to the aid of a woman who needed help loading a large and stately dog into her SUV. It was a fortuitous meeting, because he learned the purebred English mastiff would soon be available for adoption from a mastiff rescue organization. Mark and his wife, Sherri, decided they wanted the dog. When representatives from the rescue group set up a home visit, Sherri wondered whether the household would pass muster. At the end of the visit, however, she was relieved to hear the good news: “You passed the slobber test!” Their new pet, Charlie, was obviously delighted with his new home. His adoptive family includes Tillie, an energetic German wire-haired pointer made for the fields around the Smith home in Rapidan. Of Tillie, who will soon turn 9, Mark said, “She never gets enough exercise. This is a great place for her because she can run and run and run.” At 170 pounds, the 10-year-old Charlie isn’t running around quite as much as his buddy Tillie. The gentle giant, whom the Smiths have owned for two years, prefers to lounge around and relish the good life that his owners have given him. Sherri said, “I say God gave us Charlie to teach me gratefulness. As long as he has a kind word and a stick to chew on, he’s the happiest boy in the world.”
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