Luke Greeson knew what he wanted his pint-sized guests to bring to his six-year-old birthday party, and it wasn't Legos. Instead, at his request, Luke's mother, Beth, asked the children to bring dog toys and dog treats.
So, they did. Bags of treats. Boxes of Milk Bones. Chewy toys. Tennis ball toys. Squishy toys. Yummy chewy things. Big, tiny and giant.
"I wanted the dogs to have toys to play with and food to eat," said Luke. "I didn't want any presents, I wanted to help the dogs."
As a toddler, Luke had bonded with Chloe, a mixed breed that Beth calls "our first child," a dog her husband David and she had adopted as a puppy. Luke was so close to the dog that he called her "Sissie," telling people she was his older sister. Chloe died of cancer in 2011, when she was almost 14.
Monday afternoon, after his mother had fetched him from his kindergarten class at Athens Academy, Luke arrived at the Oconee County Animal Shelter with bags and bags of goodies for the dogs staying there.
If Luke had had a tail, he would have wagged it, he was so happy to present the dog loot to shelter director Catlyn Vickers. She stacked the stuff on a table in the front entrance of the shelter.
"He's a very special little boy," said Vickers. "Most children are so narcissistic, but Luke is just different."
The little boy donned earmuffs and, armed with a box of Milk Bones, went with Vickers into the holding pens. He gave each dog a bone, and they barked, wagged and whined their appreciation.