Two days after Thanksgiving, our son-in-law left our home to go out for a run and, upon his return, rang our doorbell.
This is not his habit when he stays with us.
“Why is Matt ringing the doorbell?” my husband said as we all made our way to the front of the house. You would think no one ever visits us the way we all rush for the door whenever someone does, which is often.
I wish I’d captured Matt’s face with my camera after we opened the door and beheld the sight of him and the small, quivering dog in his arms.
As Matt explained later, he had rescued the dog from a busy street and, on their half-hour walk back, pondered what to do. He rang because he wasn’t sure how we’d greet his new companion.
He needn’t have worried. The only one in our family who even hesitated to extend a hearty welcome was our rescue mutt, Franklin. But after two quick, rude sniffs, he was as excited as the rest of us. This included two squealing grandchildren under the age of five and Matt’s wife, Emily, the eldest daughter of our family, whose face telegraphed surrender even as she said, “Who is this?”
The dog was collarless and emaciated and covered in mites. She was also ravenous. Franklin found the sound of his kibble clinking into the pie tin a bit unsettling, but he powered through it without pooping in the sunroom in protest. “Good boy,” we yelled with more enthusiasm than he deserved, considering his recent history.
We all sat down on the floor to surround the pup as she ate and mused about her fate. She was sweet and friendly, quick to wag her tail and offer kisses with her tiny tongue.
“Oh-h-h,” my husband cooed, over and over. He has long insisted that we cannot handle a second dog. That rescued pup wasn’t in our house for 10 minutes before he turned to me and said, in what he thinks passes for a whisper, “If they don’t want her, we have to take her.”
“Who are you?” I said, nodding in agreement.
Why am I going on about this little dog?
In the past few months, many readers have confessed a weariness that threatens to overtake them. This tough political year in America is taking a personal toll on so many. Increasingly, my advice is to take a break, if they must. Take care of yourself for a while, I tell them. Do what you love, and immerse yourself in whatever will restore you. We’ll be here when you get back.
It wasn’t until our family got caught up in the fate of that frightened little dog that I realized I needed to take my own advice. Sometimes the best way to take on the world is to let it churn for a while without you.
Our family is a bit intense. Every get-together involves lots of home-cooked food and endless rounds of debate over where our country is headed. I warn guests who are brave enough to join us: “We get a little boisterous.” Obnoxious is probably a better word, but I’m loyal.
For a brief, magical moment, we were all about that little dog.
For days after her rescue, Matt scoured shelter websites for signs of someone looking for her. For more than a week, we drove around the neighborhood, searching for posters.
Matt and Emily took her to the vet ? yes, she went home with them ? and we all celebrated the news that except for being too thin and in need of spaying, she is otherwise OK. She may be as old as 4, but we’ve all agreed she’s 3 because our 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter wants to be older than somebody in her house.
“Do we have a name?” my husband texted, day after day.
“Might we have a name?” I asked during every FaceTime call.
“Does she have a name yet?” our daughter asked from Rhode Island.
What a glorious, ever-so-brief break from the angst of daily life.
The puppy with the tangled coat and a gift for dodging cars is freshly groomed and has settled into her new life. Her name is Biscuit.
Recently, Emily sent a photo of our 4-year-old grandson holding the leash as he walked side by side with his new buddy. I had to share it, right then and there. I turned to the woman standing in line behind me at the grocery and held up my phone.
“I can barely stand it,” I said.
She leaned in and smiled. “I know,” she said, wiping her eye. “I know exactly what you mean.”
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. ©2017 Creators