Norman resident Aven DeFalco, 14, didn't let "no" stop her when she asked for a family dog.
Instead, she drafted a handwritten petition Friday, eventually garnering 240 names and signatures in half a day. Now, the family of five has a new dog.
"I was committed. I wanted a dog," Aven said.
Aven said she had been asking her father, Ricky, for a dog off and on for a year. Recently, a friend of hers was giving away a dog, and her friends suggested she get a new canine. So, she wrote a petition on notebook paper Friday and started getting signatures. Her siblings -- sister Kyah, 10, and brother Luca, 5 -- were the first to sign.
"They cheered me on," Aven said.
She then reached out to other family members, friends and neighbors. Soon, her mother, Stephanie, posted the petition on social media and it escalated from there, Aven said. Within an hour and a half, she had 100 signatures and names.
"I did the petition because I wanted to show how many people wanted us to get a dog. I did it out of spite," she said sarcastically, smiling at her dad. "I mean that in the nicest way possible."
Then, Aven said she approached Ricky with the petition, and he challenged her to get 50 more signatures.
Next, the family headed out to dinner at Fuzzy's Taco Shop and dessert at the Hurts Donut Company, both in Norman. Aven said she decided to pass the petition around to patrons and employees at Fuzzy's, and everyone signed. Then she got additional signatures at Hurts Donuts. By Saturday morning, she had collected 240 names on the petition.
"It was an unconventional way of asking," Ricky said, adding that the effort showed that she's willing to put in the work. "I should have made her get more signatures. I didn't add very many. I didn't think she'd walk around the restaurant and ask."
Aven said after she explained the petition, many people were happy to sign and were excited to help her get a dog, and some also showed her photographs of their dogs.
"It worked out," she said.
Ricky said some people wrote notes on the petition, such as "Go Team Dog."
Stephanie DeFalcos said she and her husband were the proud owners of a dog before children entered the picture. The couple married in August 2003 and raised a female pit-bull mix from a pup named Scooter. After 15 years, when Aven was in fifth grade, Scooter died.
"I was sad. I really loved her," Aven said about Scooter.
Ricky and Stephanie said the family held off getting a new dog because of the responsibilities that go with it and the sadness of losing Scooter.
Now, three years later, Aven was ready for another dog.
"She'd been asking for a long time. It takes lots of responsibility. The petition proved she really wanted the dog and she provided the effort. She said she would care for the dog and do the work, it was enough to justify getting a dog," Ricky said.
Stephanie said she took Aven and Luca to get a dog Saturday night. They went to two shelters before they picked a slightly older, mature and friendly dog that would match their family dynamics and would get along with the family's two cats.
At the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, the family met Duke, a male pit-bull mix. He was the only dog who didn't bark loudly when they entered the room, Stephanie said.
Aven said when she approached Duke's cage, he started singing, and she decided that was the dog for her. Duke looked proud and tugged on his leash so he could get outside faster, the girl said.
"They did a good job of picking one out. He fits our family," Ricky said.
Not one for traditional names, the family renamed their new pet Petition DeFalco, aka PD. Stephanie said PD has had his shots, been fixed and microchipped at the shelter.
Before heading home, Stephanie said they stopped by PetSmart to get PD his own belongings and treats. After he arrived, he sniffed everything and explored all of the rooms, finally laying down in the living room.
"This one's a good boy," she said while petting PD, adding that they have already taught him to sit.
"I really like him. The cats won't let me pet them and come up to me. PD is indifferent to cats," Aven said. "Cats are easier [to care for], but dogs are more fun. I'm happy to have him."
Jamie Berryjberry@normantranscript.comFollow me @JamieStitches13