We've got some good news here in the battleground state of Ohio, and it's from the state legislature, even.
This is the same Republican majority who wants to set the cutoff date for an abortion to that moment when a guy looks at you and thinks you should have his baby. We've learned to expect the worst from this gang. But thanks to a quiet little provision in the hodgepodge Bill 86, it looks like Ohio now has an official pet: shelter pets.
Yes, that's shelter pets, plural, and "official pet" is not. Don't start with me. As soon as you all remember Ohio is in the same time zone as New York, you can start correcting our grammar.
Alas, we are not the first state to do this, but we are still one of only a few. The Humane Society of the United States heralded Ohio's decision in a tweet with not one but two exclamation marks, adding, "This will help raise public awareness for shelter animals and shelters throughout Ohio which are full of wonderful family-ready pets."
Our family could not agree more.
Our youngest daughter and her husband adopted a mixed-breed rescue pup from a shelter in Rhode Island. The online ad said he was a pug, which he most definitely is not. Didn't matter. He climbed onto my daughter's lap and clung to her like kudzu on a mockernut. That's a hickory tree in Georgia, home state of my beloved mother-in-law. Say it out loud: mockernut. What fun.
Anyway. That dog's life as an orphan ended the moment my daughter turned to her husband and said, "They don't take credit cards. I'll wait here while you go home and get the checkbook." His name is Tony. I think it speaks to my magnanimous nature that I didn't take it personally when the two children subsequently born in that family learned to point at that dog and say, "Toe, Toe" long before they looked at me and said anything remotely like "Grandma."
The oldest daughter in our family has a Shih Tzu that her husband rescued on a run during a stay at our house. She was an unspayed, malnourished little mop of a mess with a hernia and hovering near a busy road when he scooped her into his arms. A year later, she is living the life, that one. Her name is Biscuit.
Our son and his family rescued a shelter dog and named him Rumple. He was a hurricane until he turned 3. "Sometimes he's annoying," my then-9-year-old grandson once told me, "but humans are annoying more than sometimes."
My husband and I adopted our rescue pup when he was nine weeks old, in 2011, but only after we had filled out an application and a person with the rescue group had interviewed me and our reference, the pastor who married us.
We were told at the time that our puppy was the love child of a female husky and a male Shih Tzu, which we immediately nicknamed "the gymnast." However, a pet DNA test — our grown children will never stop mocking us for that one — revealed him to be a mix of husky, poodle and King Charles spaniel. "OK," our vet told us at the time, "if you want to believe that." All we know for sure is that his legs are short and his body is extra long, and he has better hair than anyone else in our family. We named him Franklin, for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, because we're those nerds.
Why am I telling you about all of our rescue pets? To make you smile, maybe, and who doesn't need that right now? And to encourage you to adopt a rescue pet, too, if you're looking for high-quality non-human company. I'm not judging those who prefer purebreds or mix-a-doodles. I'm just trying to save a few lives.
We're not talking about just dogs, of course.
Here comes another story.
For more than 20 years, we also had two beloved black cats that we adopted as kittens from the Animal Protective League. The male one, Reggie, once crawled into the attic and fell behind a closet wall. I was a single mother at the time, and I was on the verge of panic as my young daughter wailed, "If Reggie dies, I don't want to live."
I called our handyman, a grandfatherly Hungarian immigrant who could fix anything we broke. More than 20 years later, I can still remember him walking into our house yielding a mallet as he declared, "I'll save the kitty."
And he did.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University's school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including "...and His Lovely Wife," which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.