By Jonathan Sutton
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — As Ryan Underwood pushes his toy car toward his new dog, the small animal drops down on its front legs and lets out a playful bark.
Ryan, 3, giggles and continues to push the car around, enjoying his new friend, Chili, who appears to be a Chihuahua mix.
"He and Red always used to do that," said Sarah Barrow, Ryan's mother. "Red would lie on the floor and Ryan would drive that car all over him. He and my daughter (Sarenna) would try to ride him like a horse."
Red, a 2-year-old Chow and Rottweiler mix, was killed last weekend when a couple trying to evade police sped down W Sheridan in a stolen vehicle and hit him.
Oklahoma County sheriff deputies later arrested Richard Simpson, 30, and Samantha Norman, 23, in connection with three stolen vehicles.
Ryan, Sarah and her husband, Chad Barrow, were outside talking with TV reporters when Red was hit. Sarah ran over to Red and had a close call with the car driven by a deputy pursuing the stolen vehicle.
But when she got to him, there was nothing she could do. Chad took Ryan inside.
"I didn't want him to see his dog like that," he said.
Red had been a part of the family for just under a year. He was a stray that started coming around the house when Sarah was pregnant with her son Tyler, who is 5 months old. Eventually they decided to take him in.
After seeing what happened to Red, Sarah said Ryan was inconsolable for the next several days.
"He was having nightmares. He didn't sleep for two days," she said.
But then a couple of days later, the family got a call from the sheriff's department. Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel wanted to help.
Whetsel offered to pay the adoption fees so the family could go find another dog.
"When I found out that the bad guy had hit this dog, I just felt compelled to reach out and help them replace the dog for that little boy," he said.
The family accepted the offer and headed out to animal shelters to find a new friend.
Monday, they went to Edmond Animal Welfare.
Sarah said she found a couple of larger dogs, like Red, that she was interested in adopting. But Ryan kept going back to Chili, whose name comes from the restaurant where he was found.
They had found their new dog.
"Whenever they called and said they found a dog, my first response was, 'Give me 30 minutes to get there,'" Whetsel said. "I shut everything down and headed that way."
They took Chili home and began the process of getting acquainted. Ryan may not be able to climb all over Chili like he could Red, but it's clear by the look on his face that the new dog already has a place in his heart.
With an arm draped over Chili's neck, he said, "I love my dog."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2014 The Oklahoman