Janet Combs

Janet Combs

Here’s a good idea for when you are feeling overwhelmed with home improvement projects, a bustling nine-to-five weekday job, and a weekend columnist gig: get a second dog!

We didn’t really need another dog. Who truly does? There are two distinct camps of thinking on this: one insists that your dog needs the company of other dogs while you are away, and the other feels it’s like bringing home a second husband or wife and telling your existing one that “I’m doing this for your own good.”

One dog is typically enough for a family to care for and properly walk, feed, and take to veterinary appointments that use up the majority of your allotted entertainment funds. But sometimes, a new dog just happens. And I must admit, our new nightly entertainment—lounging at home watching free movies with our new “rescue” on our laps—suits us just fine after a long day at the office (for me) or rebuilding our home (for my husband).

“Snoopy” happened because we stopped in one Saturday morning to tour the local rescue place—ostensibly to learn about the procedure for our “future dog needs.” The reality is, our 13-year-old Goldendoodle, Moose, is getting up in years. And when our son watched Moose while we were on vacation, he mentioned that a younger dog might enliven Moose and give him some comfort in the December of his days.

But no one goes browsing for an engagement ring, or a house, or a dog for that matter, without coming home with a commitment. We learned that “Snoopy,” a Maltese mix, would soon be available—and we happen to know Moose is particularly fond of small dogs. We put in our application.

A couple of weeks later, my husband called me at work to alert me that Snoopy’s photo had appeared in the morning paper; he was ready for adoption. He called the rescue place. I called the rescue place. So, apparently, did dozens of people in the area, because Snoopy is just that adorable. We learned that if my husband could be at the rescue operation at 2 PM that afternoon, he and Moose could meet Snoopy. We were first on the list!

On learning this, all rational thinking about the time and expense and life changes required with the adoption of Snoopy were reduced to, well, peanuts. My husband and Moose met Snoopy and everyone meshed beautifully. After an exhaustive interview process that, in my opinion, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for new parents to go through before having their own children, Snoopy was ours.

Wouldn’t you know it, with his new pal Snoopy, Moose now enjoys morning walks again, so I am juggling leashes like a pro before the sun comes up. Actually, I don’t appear to be in control of my “pack;” I look more like I am zig-zagging through the neighborhood on a daily random shooter drill. During the day, my husband is running his own makeshift agility course, deftly stepping around two dogs who like to be within two feet of him at all times in the house and the yard.

Snoopy had to be given up because his owners were getting on in years themselves and could no longer take care of him. I’m sure it was awful for them to have to reach this decision. I hope they read this column and learn how loved and appreciated Snoopy is in our home.

Which brings me to a thought that is only marginally profound: it is healthy for people to be around younger individuals as we age. I see clearly how Moose teaches Snoopy and Snoopy teaches Moose. Communities with a mix of ages benefit both generations: we have the privilege of supporting each other. Maybe we should each visit a nursing home and “adopt” a resident? This is something important that both the comic strip and the real Snoopy model: Happiness is companionship.

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Contact her at www.janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.