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AFTER TORMENT, STINKY NOW REVELS IN DOG'S LIFE

SHE LOVES CHASING A BALL and playing tug of war. In moments of high mischief, she slips under the dining room table to chew on an old shoe and the occasional wristwatch if one has been carelessly misplaced.

Mostly, though, Stinky is in love with being loved. And she returns it in equal measure, tirelessly licking the hand that pets her. Stinky has come up from the unbelievable act of cruelty that shocked the community last October when she was set on fire, and her adopted family believes she has forgiven her tormentors.

But she still is a celebrity in conversation over checkout counters, in the neighborhood, offices and schools, where many still remember the poor little mutt, her fur doused with lighter fluid and ablaze, who ran for help into a garage near the Peace Bridge where the mechanic hosed her down and saved her life.

To this day, she fears hoses, and from a dark side of her life known only to her, she cringes when anyone has a broom or stick in hand.

Adopted by Rosemary and Doug Doeing of the Town of Tonawanda and their three children -- Chris, 13; Shawna, 11, and Adina, 7 -- Stinky shares her Riley's life with Radar, the boss dog, and two birds.

She plays almost constantly with Radar, but when he's had enough, he ends it with a gentle snap but never a bite, reminding her that he's in charge of the menagerie.

The Doeings' decision to adopt Stinky from the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, even though they had enough pets, continues to bring the family a measure of fame and praise.

Adina, a first-grader at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, received the school's Good Citizenship Award for adopting Stinky.

The dog also attended Shawna's show-and-tell class in Benjamin Franklin Middle School.

But that wasn't the only time Stinky attended school. Shortly after she went to live with the Doeings, she was given a free obedience training course from West Seneca dog trainer Howard Trautwein, where she learned how to walk, heel, sit and stay.

And the Doeings learned that one of her ancestors may have been a Finnish spitz. But whatever the breed, the Doeings love her very, very much.

No watchdog, Stinky is content to let Radar do the barking when anyone comes to the door. And to the surprise of the mailman, she never barks at him, and when she can, she licks his hand.

And despite the cruelty of the past, Stinky is quite comfortable being pampered. She sleeps on the floor in the master bedroom and has her very own blanket.

Her scars from the burning have long since healed, and Stinky's thick blond coat, flecked with charcoal gray, makes her seem especially beautiful.

The Doeings were selected by the SPCA from among more than 50 applicants because they were known to be very kind people.

One of the fringe benefits in taking her as their own, Doeing said, is in knowing that "even though she suffered terribly," her celebrity status has made her an area symbol in the fight against animal cruelty.

And as for Stinky, she doesn't seem to mind in the least being nothing more or nothing less than a pampered pooch.

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