Preferred Puppies owner dies; business closed after 35 years

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch

HAMILTON — Cheryl Dalton loved dogs so much, she told her son she considered continuing to work at her Preferred Puppies shop to be her retirement.

Dalton, who first operated Noah’s Ark Pet Shop and later Cheri’s Preferred Puppies, which later became simply Preferred Puppies, died Dec. 24 from complications of COVID-19. She had been battling breast cancer that spread to other organs, said her son, Tony Pombo, of Beavercreek. She was 76.

Pombo said Dalton operated pet shops almost 35 years, including at its most recent location, 105 Main St., and years ago in the Hamilton West Shopping Center.

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch

About a decade ago, she installed a “puppy cam” in her store so people could watch what the cuddly creatures were doing in the window of her store — her son had installed a heated floor in their area to keep them warm — and she told the Journal-News at the time she believed the cam “saved her business,” Pombo said.

Dalton bought the pet store that was Fins, Feathers and Fur in late 1986 that was at 105 Main St., which became the first, and later the final, location for her store. At first, the her shop was called Noah’s Ark Pet Shop, which was filled with “birds and fishes, and hamsters and gerbils, and rabbits and cats and dogs, and 30-40 tanks of fish,” along with accessories, “crammed into 700 square feet in downtown Hamilton.”

She later moved into Hamilton West Shopping Center, into a former clothing store, her location during the early ’90s.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“She moved back to Main Street, and decided ‘I’m going to change the name of the store from Noah’s Ark Pet Shop to Cheri’s Preferred Puppies, and I’m only going to sell puppies, maybe some dog food, or some bowls or leashes.” In 2018, she shortened the name to Preferred Puppies.

“It ran like that until, actually the last day was Jan. 1,” Pombo said. “We sold the last four dogs on that day.”

She also had many dogs of her own, always trying to find a dog as special to her as a beloved Bichon Frise she had named Puppet.

A private funeral was to be held today, with burial following at Greenwood Cemetery.

Her family posted a sign in the window thanking Hamilton for 35 years of business. Before they added a photograph of her indicating that she had passed away, people were knocking on the window, asking what had happened, and telling family how much they enjoyed the shop.

Dalton loved animals, and had horses as a child. She attended business school at the University of the Americas in Mexico City.

Her son suggested years ago maybe she should retire and enjoy her golden years.

“She loved the puppies,” he said. “She liked the puppies. She really liked it when someone came in and they found a puppy and it was a good match. It really made her happy that the puppies got a good home.”

He said his mother was careful to avoid buying from puppy mills, and encouraged people to visit the dog pounds first to try to find pets there.

She was born March 23, 1945 to Ralph and Martha (McCollum) Brown. The Taft High School graduate married Raymond Dalton in 1977. She is survived by her children; Anthony (Melissa) Pombo, Dianna (Rick) Stockton, Tara (Chris) Valle, Bev (Jeff) Owens, and Jeff Dalton; a brother: Patrick (Ann) Brown; 12 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.

Memorial gifts can be made to Breast Cancer Research, or Hospice of Hamilton, where Raymond volunteered. Online condolences are available at

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