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Story - News

Dec 13, 2018 4:55 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Pair Of Adopted Dogs Bring Joy To Don Lemon's Home

Don Lemon sitting on the back steps with Barkley and Boomer at his Sag Harbor home. JD ALLEN
Dec 17, 2018 4:02 PM

Two small, fluffy dogs bolt around the corner. Their nails slide across the hardwood floors. Jumping up onto the couch, they wrestle and playfully nip at each other.Don Lemon reaches down and swaddles them both in his arms.

In his Sag Harbor home, the CNN news anchor explains that the two, Barkley and Boomer, have just gotten a haircut, so they were apart all morning. They have been inseparable since Mr. Lemon adopted them from Southampton Animal Shelter earlier this year.

“I have a hard time parting with them, too,” he laughs. Mr. Lemon takes them everywhere he can: playing doubles at the tennis club, swimming in the Pacific Ocean while on vacation in California, and boating around Long Island.

Boomer knows his way around the Time Warner building, and who at CNN will give him a belly rub. Barkley and journalist Chris Cuomo have become the best of buds.

But the dogs truly feel at home in Sag Harbor, Mr. Lemon said. A resident of Harlem, he makes his way out to the South Fork on the weekends with his partner, Tim Malone, a Manhattan real estate agent who grew up in Water Mill.

Walks with the dogs up to the harbor and down Main Street were a staple this fall. On brisk wintry days, all four curl up on the couch and watch “Law & Order” in front of the fireplace.

In June, after Mr. Malone dropped some not-so-subtle hints about wanting a dog, Mr. Lemon was inspired to check out Southampton Animal Shelter. He had just attended a fundraiser and heard about the animals at the shelter from a volunteer.

“I have had dogs in the city before, and, like I told Tim, dogs are a lot of responsibility and a lot of work,” Mr. Lemon said.

He wanted a specific dog: no shedding, hypoallergenic and one that looked like an Australian Labradoodle. After Mr. Lemon contacted them, people at Southampton Animal Shelter sent him photos and videos of a few dogs—and a friendly black “bear” caught his eye.

“We knew immediately he was the one,” Mr. Lemon continued.

On the way home from the shelter in July, Boomer was going ballistic, romping around their truck. The problem soon arrived that Boomer’s fun-loving attitude turned to separation anxiety when Mr. Lemon was away.

Barkley was the solution.

Their brotherhood has been both jolly and mischievous. Not long after Mr. Lemon and Mr. Malone took Barkley home, the two dogs found a hole in the fence in the backyard and made a run for it.

“My heart sank,” Mr. Lemon said, clenching the dogs tighter at the memory.

With help from neighbors, the dogs made it back home, and they have since learned the lay of the land. Now they spend most of their days frolicking around the house, playing tug-of-war with toys, and racing up and down the stairs.

Mr. Lemon spends time with them during the day before going to work, and Mr. Malone comes home just in time to watch him on the air with the dogs.

“These dogs are so sweet and they bring so much joy to my life and to my house,” Mr. Lemon continued. “And Southampton Animal Shelter, they are responsible for that, and I am eternally grateful.”

Jerry Rosenthal, the shelter’s executive director, said Mr. Lemon’s story isn’t unique. “You don’t have to be a celebrity to get this kind of treatment,” he said.

This time of year, the shelter can get busy, but Mr. Rosenthal said it works hard to match the right animal with the right home. There were about 65 dogs and 130 cats at the shelter before the holiday season. Some have trouble getting adopted because they are older or their breed or coloring is not favorable. Others come from problematic homes.

“This time of year, we do see families come in and want to adopt some of our longtime residents, which is always heartwarming,” Mr. Rosenthal said.

Before getting to the shelter, Boomer was a stray, and the older owner who cared for Barkley couldn’t do it anymore. While they were in the shelter, the dogs were taught basic commands, how to get in and out of a car, and how go up a flight of stairs. They also got the veterinary care they needed.

That way, by the time Mr. Lemon was looking for a friend, or two, the pups were going to be a good fit.

“We just want to get as many dogs rescued and into their forever homes,” Mr. Rosenthal said.

“I know I rescued these dogs—but, really, they rescued me,” Mr. Lemon said.

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