Saying hello, not goodnight, to Gracie

FATHER’S DAZE
Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

There’s no length Terry wouldn’t go to to get a new dog – or at least not more than 360 miles.

And that’s why we found ourselves on a road trip late last week to western Michigan – only a week and a half after returning from a week’s vacation in Kentucky and Ohio.

It was only six weeks since we had to put down Fenn, who was Terry’s BFLFF (best four-legged friend forever) for 12 and a half years.

It left us with no dogs in the house for the first time in a couple of decades, which was just fine with me.

Terry agreed that we could probably try to live without any canines in the house for a while.

But apparently, her definition of a while varied greatly from mine – as is often the case with so many things around the house.

For instance, I was thinking more in terms of another presidential administration or two after the current one, while her time frame was much, much shorter.

It wasn’t long before she was on the Internet, researching dogs for adoption.

In particular, she was looking for another Plott Hound, since Fenn had been half Plott Hound and Terry had fallen in love with the breed.

It wasn’t long before she found a puppy she wanted, born in early April to a Plott Hound mother.

It was only a minor consideration for her that the dog was born in Georgia and was being brought to a dog rescue shelter in Newaygo, Mich.

When I said Terry would go to any length to get the dog she wants, I never imagined that length would amount to about 360 miles.

The puppy had been given the name Cha-Cha – the entire litter had been given dance names, like Cha-Cha, Tango and so forth – but if this was going to be Terry’s dog, she was going to come up with a name for it herself.

She decided on Grace, which was fine with me.

Of course, I did have to mention that I would have to tell the new dog “Say Goodnight, Gracie,” every night – being an old Burns and Allen fan from way back.

Fortunately, she’s a fan too and soon decided that she’d go with Gracie for a name.

She quickly made all the arrangements and set last Friday for the day to pick up Cha-Cha, soon to be Gracie.

Since we were looking at a six-hour drive, we decided to go over the night before, spend the night at a motel and then bring the new member of the family home Friday.

Our daughter-in-law Julia volunteered to come along and help with the puppy pickup, and bring Aiden along, since Alex was out in Seattle for two weeks on Army business.

With a dog kennel, puppy food, blankets, pads, chew toys and all kinds of canine paraphernalia loaded in the back of the car – along with everybody’s suitcases and other provisions – we took off for Michigan.

It was hard to tell what Aiden was more excited about – going to get a puppy or getting to stay overnight in a motel with a swimming pool.

We rolled into the motel about 7 that night and it took a ton of talking to convince Aiden that we had to go eat dinner first before he could come back and try out the pool.

We finally told him that he could also use the key card in the motel door as well as go swimming if we could go eat first, but he ate faster than he’s eaten in a long time.

The next day we drove to the shelter, only to find that the woman who ran the place had left on an errand and her assistant had no idea about our dog.

While we waited, Aiden and Julia made friends with the dozens of cats and kittens at the shelter.

Luckily, none of them were small enough to fit in either of their pockets, so we didn’t have to worry about a cat and dog fight all the way home.

The shelter manager finally came back, only to tell us that Cha-Cha/Gracie was at a foster home outside Grand Rapids, about an hour away.

We filled out the paperwork, got directions to the foster home and took off to claim the puppy.

I drove, since Terry probably would have broken every existing speed limit getting there to get her puppy if she had driven.

We finally arrived and the two new BFLFFs were united at last.

Terry, Julia and Aiden managed to keep Gracie entertained on the drive home – when she wasn’t sleeping, which was most of the time – so the only thing I had to battle was traffic jams in Chicago and construction in Milwaukee.


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