The dog's name was Tootsie.
"Whenever I got tired, she'd just jump in bed and cuddle up," Matt Plackowski said. "She was really, really special to us."
Tootsie was among the victims of a horrific knife attack that claimed the lives of Plackowski's 7-year-old brother and a 5-year-old girl. His mother is charged with the Oct. 30 crime.
Since then, Matt has longed for company, especially when his father, a truck driver, is away. The companionship came Wednesday from a Naperville pet store that gave a new dog to Plackowski. He plans to call her Tootsie.
Plackowski had his pick of the litter, so to speak, from dozens of pups at Petland Naperville. The 20-year-old quickly warmed up to a chocolate dapple dachshund that lapped at his nose and snuggled up close against his chest.
"We'll definitely work out," he said, smiling and admiring her spots. "I love her colors."
Elzbieta Plackowska, 40, is charged with the murders of her son Justin and Olivia Dworakowski, whom she was baby-sitting. Authorities say she fatally stabbed the children before turning the knife on her older son's 5-year-old dachshund Tootsie, as well as a mixed breed named Niki that was also inside Olivia's Naperville home.
Matt Plackowski had little to say Wednesday about the tragedy, but he told reporters in his first interview since then that he is "holding on, trying my best."
"Every day is a good one or a bad one," he said. "We're living life just like everyone else. Taking baby steps."
Petland Naperville owner Adam Stachowiak said he learned Plackowski was looking for a dog because one of Plackowski's friends, Donnie Pasch, works at the store. The decision to help was easy.
"The best thing we could do is replace his dog for him," Stachowiak said, fighting back tears. "It's just a nice way for us to give back to the community and to someone who's in need of some holiday cheer."
Stachowiak said the dog Plackowski selected would have cost between $1,500 and $2,000, which includes a free vet visit, spaying, microchipping and trial health insurance, among other perks. Plackowski also received a cart full of supplies at no cost and free dog food for a year. Glen Ellyn Animal Hospital donated a year's worth of veterinary services and shots, Stachowiak said.
Plackowski was nearly at a loss for words to express his gratitude.
"It's beyond amazing," he said.
He also said the bond with the new Tootsie is going to be just as strong.
"We're going to give her all the love she needs."