My husband and I have always been a two-dog household. Months before our child was born, one of our dogs developed severe spinal and nerve issues. During the first year of my daughter Vivi’s life, he was in a lot of pain and scared, and being around a newly crawling toddler was hard on him. Although we tried to keep them separated, once he bit her rather badly. He became paralyzed, and his health and quality of life continued to decline. It broke our hearts last February to say goodbye to him.
Our other dog was just as heartbroken. Even months later, she seemed lost without him, and I knew that for her sake, I needed to move on and consider a new companion for her. We wanted to rescue a larger dog, preferably an adult dog. Because Vivi had been bit in the past, and because she was so young and not very graceful or gentle, a very patient, tolerant dog was a must. I began the task of hunting for our new buddy.
I follow a lot of rescues on Facebook. So, at first we took it slow. I just kept an eye out on their pages. Looking at all of those faces would wear on me, though. It makes me so sad to see dogs awaiting the love that they deserve and not being able to save them all. With my daughter now in the mix, I had to be incredibly selective.
One Friday night, on the second page of Wayside Waifs’s adoptable dogs, I saw Franklin’s photo. He was a 4 year old German Shepherd mix, and I seriously immediately fell in love with him. Then I read the profile. Who writes those things?! They are good. Real good. His profile killed me. I yelled to my husband in the kitchen, ” I found him!!! I found him!!”
The only breed that my husband wasn’t interested in was German Shepherd. Go figure. First I read him the profile, then showed him the photo. This dog sounded so sweet and so gentle. He had been shipped over from another shelter when space had run out, and had become depressed when he arrived at Wayside. In his profile they explained that he longed for human companionship.
My husband agreed that we could go meet him the next morning. I kid you not, I was so excited that I went to bed early so that I could just get to it already.
That morning, my hot mess family—two adults, one crazy dog, a toddler and a giant stroller—rolled on in through the doors at Wayside five minutes after they opened. “We want to meet Franklin!”
When we first did the walk-around through the kennels at Wayside and first saw him, he calmly lifted his head to look at us, then despairingly put his head back down to rest.
Wayside was amazing at the process of introduction. At first the humans of my family went to the meeting room. They brought Franklin in. I immediately hugged him and he patiently sat, letting me hug him. Then my toddler clumsily waddled over and slightly pulled his tail. No reaction. So, next she tried with the ears. She gave a really good tug. I scolded. Franklin licked her face in response.
Next, our dog Suki met him. It wasn’t immediate love, but a solid, solid tolerance. It was clear, this guy was fitting in great. So home we went.
He seemed a little nervous that we’d disappear if he let us out of his sight. An hour later, after plenty of treats and snuggles, he settled in for a happy nap on the kitchen floor. Throughout the afternoon he would be used as a chair and a makeshift horse by the toddler. He didn’t flinch and again, only responded to this pestering with sweet dog kisses. At one point a tiny hand caressed his giant Shepard teeth with merely an eye-bat in response. I was in absolute shock at how gentle, tolerant and welcoming he was to all of the complete impositions on personal space.
In just a matter of days, we had him contently snuggled among us all on the couch and in the bed at night. Franklin and Suki now nap next to one another, walk closely to one another on a leash, and spend hours playing together. At the end of the day when we wind down reading to our baby to sleep in a dim room, Franklin is her pillow on the floor during story time.
Franklin may have desperately craved human companionship, but everyone in this home needed and wanted him just as much. We comment often on how lucky we were to find him. Amazing, amazing dogs needing love sit in kennels waiting. I’m thankful every day that we found ours.
Contributing Writer and Wayside Adopter: Tuesday Schmidt