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Dogs for a cause

Naperville, 12/11/13--Tori Martin and Adam Stachowiak hold six of the puppies know as Christmas Puppies for Melissa. Naperville's Petland pet store is offering 10 purebred puppies for $1000 each, with all proceeds going to a Petland associate in Georgia who is fighting cancer.  | Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media
Naperville, 12/11/13--Petland employee Adam Stachowiak wrinkles his nose as he gets a wet greeting from a puppy. Naperville's Petland pet store is offering 10 purebred puppies for $1000 each, with all proceeds going to a Petland associate in Georgia who is fighting cancer.  | Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media
Naperville, 12/11/13--A chihuahua and a maltipoo enjoy their romp through the store. Naperville's Petland pet store is offering 10 purebred puppies for $1000 each, with all proceeds going to a Petland associate in Georgia who is fighting cancer.  | Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media
Naperville, 12/11/13--A Chinese crested is one of the puppies offered. Naperville's Petland pet store is offering 10 purebred puppies for $1000 each, with all proceeds going to a Petland associate in Georgia who is fighting cancer.  | Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media
Naperville, 12/11/13--Petland employee Tori Martin holds three of the puppies offered. Naperville's Petland pet store is offering 10 purebred puppies for $1000 each, with all proceeds going to a Petland associate in Georgia who is fighting cancer.  | Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media

Eight tiny reindeer might be the stuff of holiday magic, but to Adam Stachowiak and Mike Isaac, goodwill can be brought by a whole other animal that’s also very small.

The co-owners of the Naperville Petland store have selected 10 puppies that are part of a special fundraising drive this holiday season. Sales of the little dogs will help meet the mounting medical expenses of one of their peers.

One of the sales managers in the chain’s Kennesaw, Ga., store is fighting an aggressive cancer that calls for both radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and she can’t afford both.

With bills now totaling more than $40,000 and expected to climb sharply after a new claim year arrives and her deductible is reset, Melissa Laxson is being forced to choose just one course of treatment.

When an email came from the store manager in Kennesaw, requesting that customers and employees at other Petland affiliates be asked to donate in any way they could, Stachowiak said he and his partner, Isaac, decided they wanted to do more.

Enter the puppies — a Chinese Crested, a beagle, a Labrador retriever, a Maltipoo, a chihuahua and a few more of various breeds that have yet to arrive. There’s even a cat, which will go for considerably less than the $1,000 price tag on each of the puppies — tentatively named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen and so on. The sum includes the dog, a “puppy homecoming kit,” free spay or neuter, all current vaccinations, a program from the American Kennel Club — and a few more goodies. Every dime from the sale of the 10 dogs, and the cat, will be passed along to Laxson.

“I’ve worked with the breeders to get the dogs at significantly discounted prices, and gotten things donated, so all of the money will go to her cancer treatment,” said Stachowiak, who aims to cobble together a $10,000 donation.

Last December, the store owners also directed their giving toward someone who seemed to need it. Naperville resident Matt Plackowski’s dachshund, Tootsie, had been killed a few weeks earlier in a bloody attack that also took the lives of Matt’s younger brother, Justin Plackowska, 7, and 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski, along with one other dog. Stachowiak and Isaac did their best to ease the pain a little bit, presenting Matt and his father, Artur Plackowski, with a miniature chocolate dappled dachshund. They named her Tootsie.

“Every year we kind of look for a cause we can help, or something over and beyond that we can do,” Stachowiak said.

The Naperville Petland store is at 720 S. Route 59, Suite 112.

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