My brother’s call came right when I expected it. Five months after losing his beloved Feivel to a mass in his throat, he was ready for the companionship and love of a dog again. I’d known this call was coming – – and I knew he would be eager to re-establish the strong human/canine bond he has always formed with his pets once he had properly grieved his loss – which is why we all call him the dog whisperer in our family.
Feivel had been the best “accident” ever born. Someone hadn’t watched the bitch in heat well enough, and Trudy gave birth to a litter of Schweimerauzeryorkiepoos whose timing and oopsness was never better than right there on the screened-in front porch of Ken’s 18-acre farm in the rural Georgia countryside on the backside of nowhere in Concord, Georgia. Like most dads, Ken had watched Feivel being born. I suppose that’s why he had a strong desire to keep one of the pups as his own and raise it.
Those are the kinds of end-of-life goodbyes that are so gut-wrenching they rip your heart out, torch it, and burn it to ashes. When you’ve been there for all their moments and they’ve taken you through some hard times of your own with their sympathetic, non-judgmental loving eyes looking you full in the face from your lap where you sit on the sofa scratching them behind the ears, you truly realize the grace and mercy God sends you in a dog.
But in time, the ashes cool and the warmth returns.
“I’m ready. But where do I even start?” he asked me.
“Decide on the breed you want, and look for a rescue of that type with a Google search for dogs in your area. Put in an application for a couple of dogs whose descriptions appeal to you,” I suggested. “Then see if you can meet the dogs and decide if one is a good fit for you.”
I sent him some dog rescue links.
He found Cooper in Missouri – a little outside our area, but he completed an application for this young male Labradoodle who was cute and friendly and clutched a stuffed toy in his mouth. His application response came:
We’ll determine our best candidate for owning this dog and let you know in two to three weeks if we feel you would be a suitable match for Cooper.
He called me, clearly discouraged. “I think the rescue process is one that takes time,” he told me he’d learned. “Will you be up for a road trip in two to three weeks if I make the cut?” he asked, his voice revealing that he knew deep inside that this dog would take the equivalent of a hole in one at The Masters in Augusta to become his.
“Absolutely,” I assured him.
And so the wait began.
*According to PetSmart, July 11-17 is National Adoption Week for Pet Smart Charities and The Anti-Cruelty Society. From Tuesday through Friday, I will be sharing the story of my brother’s journey to a new companion.