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Originally published Friday, February 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM

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Wrinkly face helps dog go from unwanted to greeting-card star

Hoosier, a Shar-Pei puppy, was slated to be euthanized until dog-pound workers and a rescue group stepped in to save him. Now he has a home, is certified in beginner obedience and is going to be featured on a greeting card.

Akron Beacon Journal

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Some people hate wrinkles. Others adore them, especially if they grace the face of a loved one.

A pooch that moved across the country looking for someone to love his wrinkles cashed in on his facial ridges and captured the heart of a Fredericksburg, Ohio, woman. While some may think that only a mother can love the furry folds on a Chinese Shar-Pei's face, Hoosier the Shar-Pei's folds were cute enough to catch the attention of a Northeast Ohio greeting card company.

However, humans in Hoosier's life didn't always view the dog so agreeably.

His original owner, who turned him over to a Wisconsin dog pound, asked workers to euthanize the youngster.

Full of unbridled energy and enthusiasm, Hoosier, like so many undisciplined dogs, was often punished because humans in his life never taught him manners. Instead, he was branded a "bad dog" because he acted like an unruly child.

But dogs aren't as lucky as misbehaving children. They are at the mercy of owners' whims, even when the owner is the one who allows the behavior to become a problem.

In Hoosier's case, employees at the pound intervened and got him a new lease on life by persuading the owner to put the purebred up for adoption instead of having him put down.

"He (Hoosier) had no boundaries. I suspect the man's children didn't either," said Lois Brown, the Wayne County, Ohio, woman who ended up fostering, then adopting the outcast.

The pound contacted the North American Shar-Pei Rescue Great Lakes Region which sent a representative on the 1,200-mile round-trip trek to Wisconsin to pick up the dog with the lovable, folded-furry face. As a member of the rescue since 1994, Brown was prepared to offer the dog a foster home with her family of five dogs, but ended up giving him her heart.

Even though her rescue peers thought Hoosier had animal-aggression issues that might prevent him from finding a home, Brown volunteered to take him and introduced him to obedience classes at Papp's Dog Service on Waterloo Road in Akron, Ohio.

Two years and several obedience classes later, Hoosier is certified in beginner obedience and rally class, and although he is still full of energy, he can at times contain his joyful self.

"I only needed to see them together once to know he had already picked out his 'mom,' " Papp's owner and trainer Susan Jenkins said. "He would not take his eyes off her."

Tina Elkins, senior photography stylist for American Greetings of Cleveland, was looking for a wrinkle-faced Shar-Pei for an age-related greeting card late last year and stumbled on the rescue group's website.

Elkins said she searched online for just the right animals to be featured in a new line of greeting cards that are still in the development stages.

"I try very, very hard to use breeders and owners of good standing," she said.

The cards will be available at Target stores in the fall, Elkins said.

Elkins was taken by Hoosier because he has exactly the right features for his breed — deep wrinkles, exactly what people think a Shar-Pei should look like, said Jenkins, who travels with Brown and their dogs when they compete in obedience shows.

Arrangements were made and the pair met Elkins in Lakewood, Ohio, where the problem-riddled dog that was once given a death sentence turned into a cover boy.

"I've got big plans for this big boy," Brown said with a gleam of stardom in her eye.

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