“It’s time,” our vet said.
“Really?” I said, stroking Franklin’s head.
“He’s the right age,” she said. She weaved her fingers through the soft, curly fur on his long back. “It might even make him feel younger.”
Off we went, in search for a second, younger canine companion for our beloved Franklin, who was named for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Of course he was.
We adopted Franklin eight years ago from a local rescue operation. We were told at the time that Franklin’s mother was a 45-pound husky-Lab mix, and that his father was a 14-pound Shih Tzu. As I wrote in an essay for Parade magazine that year, there’s not a joke you can make about his parents’ romance that Franklin didn’t hear on our drive home. We nicknamed his dad “The Gymnast.”
We opted for another rescue. As the New York Times reported just this week, euthanasia rates have plummeted as an increasing number of abandoned pets are adopted. This is very good news, and who can’t use that these days?
There is a reason, I soon discovered, that most rescue organizations frame their breed claims as best guesses. We bought a DNA kit, for which our children have endlessly mocked us. The results, if you are inclined to believe them, and we most certainly do because we have to justify what we paid for them: Franklin is a husky/poodle/King Charles mix. Don’t tell the Shih Tzu.
This past month, when we decided to adopt another rescue, we looked for a puppy. In addition to our gentle Franklin, we have seven young grandchildren. No rescue can guarantee an abandoned adult dog’s past, and to say I have a tendency to worry is to say Beyonce is somewhat successful.
I found the perfect pup, I thought. He lived fewer than 20 miles away, I also thought, because he was posted on a nearby rescue’s website. By the time we discovered he lived in North Carolina, I had already shared his photo with all of our kids. In our family, that’s a commitment.
This is not a political statement: Buying an AR-15 style rifle is easier than adopting a dog from many rescue operations.
I filled out a multipage questionnaire that included our vet’s contact information and permission for her to disclose everything about any of our pets she’s ever treated. I also had to give a thorough history of Franklin. I included the link to my Parade essay, which includes this quote from our youngest daughter as she watched me coo as he lay in his brand-new bed: “I remember when you used to look at me like that.”
I confirmed on the questionnaire that, at our age, pregnancy would be a miracle, and I let it slide when I was asked if I had my husband’s “permission” to adopt again. I always wondered what it would be like to be a woman in the 1950s. Now I know.
Oh, the joy when I hit “send” on that application.
Oh, the apoplexy when I read the follow-up email. We would have to wait up to eight business days — 10 days, they meant — to find out if we qualified, at which point the puppy whose photo was this close to becoming my screensaver might already be adopted.
Cue Hallmark Movie Channel music. Think Christmas theme.
My friend Karen Sandstrom texted this message: “Dog-related question when you have a moment or two.”
Reader, there is a reason we call Karen the dog whisperer.
She had rescued an eight-pound puppy from the streets. He was tap-tap-tapping along, no human in sight. She pulled over and opened her car door, and in he hopped. He had no microchip or tags, was a bit underweight and in need of neutering. He was also “the sweetest little guy.”
Her daughter, Katy Nozar, agreed to take him, but she has two cats who weren’t up for the hostel arrangement, and so she found a foster mother in her friend, Stephanie. After a month’s search, Karen and her fellow dog saviors started looking to find him a home. He lasted one night with a person who said he never stopped whining.
I’m here to tell you that this little dog who weighs less than my winter tights has a heart the size of a Montana sky. He knew who he was supposed to be with.
Welcome home, little puppy.
After just a week, Franklin has fallen in love with him. However, it is fair to say that there are four sentient beings in this house, and three of us will be very happy to say good-bye to this little guy’s jangling jewelry.
We call him Walter.
He is named him for Walter Reuther, the progressive labor organizer and civil rights activist.
Of course he is.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
and professional in residence at
Kent State University’s school of journalism.