By Vinde Wells
An empty spot in a Mt. Morris man's heart was unexpectedly filled a few weeks before Christmas.
Chris Corcoran keenly felt the loss several months ago of his 13-year-old golden retriever, Rusty.
A rescue dog from a Rockford shelter, Rusty had been Corcoran's constant companion for a decade when he died last June.
"He was my best friend," Corcoran said during an interview in August.
A new furry friend came into his life on Nov. 11 when he adopted Rebel, an eight-week-old Labrador retriever puppy.
"He doesn't take Rusty's place, but he sure helps," Corcoran said. "He's a really good dog."
As if in response, the friendly pup snuggled into his new owner's arms and nuzzled his face.
Rebel was the last puppy in a locally-bred litter. The owner was moving and couldn't take the pup with her.
An animal lover, Corcoran was more than pleased to help out and readily took Rebel home with him.
The dog has settled in the routine at his new home, playing with the other dogs and gnawing on a few things he shouldn't.
"He likes to chew belts and cords," Corcoran said with a rueful chuckle.
Rebel goes most places with his new owner and even sleeps with him.
"He likes to be rocked to sleep," Corcoran said.
Besides Rusty, Corcoran has rescued numerous dogs and cats over the years and urges everyone to consider shelter animals when choosing a pet.
"They're good animals that are just waiting to go home with you," he said.
Pets are also a good solution for anyone who lives alone, Corcoran believes.
"For people who are lonely, get a dog or a cat," he said. "Animals are great companions. They lift your spirits."