words: Marla Cantrell
image: courtesy Hope Humane Society
In February, Do South® published a story about Duke and Duchess, two sweet strays staying at Hope Humane Society in Fort Smith, Arkansas. These dogs had a problem; they couldn’t stand to be apart, and that made finding them a home a little tricky. Someone had to love them both.
Enter Cindy Kenna, who read their story in our February issue. In May of 2017, she and her husband Chris had lost both their precious dogs, Abby and Bubba, to age and illness. The Kennas were heartsick. In the months that followed, they talked about getting another dog, and when Cindy says this, she raises a finger. “One dog,” she says and laughs, “probably a smaller dog that could fly with us when we travel.”
Still, the plight of these two kept coming back to her.
So, one night after she and Chris had gone to bed, she told him their story. “I pray about everything,” Cindy says, “so I figured if Chris didn’t think it was a good idea, I’d take that as a closed door.”
Chris didn’t say no, but he did broach the subject cautiously, and even though he suggested setting up a meeting, Cindy suspected she’d gotten her answer. One thing she said before nodding off was, “I think the question comes down to, Christopher, do we have enough love in our hearts to welcome two little souls.”
As she says this, her eyes fill. She is sitting at her kitchen table where sunlight pools. Just outside, down a long flight of steps is a half-acre that makes up the backyard, and in that yard are eight forty-year-old pine trees where squirrels do gymnastics. And in the grass, rabbits zip here and there, moles plunder beneath the soft dirt, and birds play choruses all day long. Translation: it is doggy paradise.
The next morning, the first thing Chris said was, “Are you ready to go see the dogs?”
On that day, Duke and Duchess were at Pet Smart in Fort Smith, at a mobile adoption event for Hope Humane Society. After loving on both of them, and then making sure they were okay around cats—the Kennas have a cat they adore—they signed the adoption papers.
“When Christopher started the car, I was holding Duke, and Duchess was in the backseat. She came up from behind and licked Chris’ ears. It was like she was saying thank-you, thank-you. When I got them home, I told them, ‘This is your home. No one will ever take you away.’”
For a week, Duke and Duchess stayed so close to each other they were often touching. They didn’t like it when Cindy was out of view, so she made sure they could see her. They began to trust their good luck bit by bit, and one day, she noticed them in the yard. Duke was lying in the sun, and Duchess was yards away, her black nose in a molehill. There they were just dogs being dogs. Not afraid of losing each other, not afraid Cindy and Chris would suddenly disappear.
As Cindy is telling this story, Chris opens the door, and Duke and Duchess rush in, ask for kisses, and head to the swanky bed Chris bought. It is elevated off the floor, topped with a cushy mattress and on top of that a soft cover. Chris smiles as the dogs hop up, circle and cuddle. They look like happiness personified, joy embodied in fur.
Already, the Kennas are thinking about the future, adding the dogs into every decision. They’ll take fewer overnight trips to see friends, for example, and longer trips will likely be by car. But none of that is concerning. Most of what matters takes concessions.
Plus, Cindy says, life gets messy if you live it well. You have kids, and it’s runny noses and stepping on Legos in the middle of the night. You get a dog (or two), and you have to sweep more and clean up the occasional accident. But all that love, Cindy asks, isn’t it worth it?
She answers her question. “You read stories like the one about Duke and Duchess, and your heart breaks, but you might not act on it. Or it might be something else you felt you should have done but didn’t. It felt good to follow through with a good intention. To complete another task here on Earth that you were supposed to complete. I feel like we’re theirs more than they’re ours.
“I never thought I wanted a Chihuahua.” Cindy laughs. “But now I have Duke, and I can’t imagine him not being here. If you give the Lord a chance, the things that you had shut the door on can open up.”
The door to Chris’s office is wide open. Between where he sits with his head bent over his keyboard and where Cindy sits at her table are their two dogs, fast asleep, curled into one another, content. The phone rings and Duke and Duchess raise their sweet heads. The sound is nothing for them to be concerned about, so they lie back down and sigh. At this moment, in fact, they have no concerns at all. And that is the perfect ending to this story that began with two worried dogs holding on to hope and each other, looking for a family to love them as much as they loved each other.
Looking for a Forever Friend?
There are so many other pets looking for a home. Please consider finding your next forever friend at a local shelter. We’ve listed a few to get you started.
Ahisma, Muldrow, OK
Almost Home Shelter, Van Buren
Charleston Dog Shelter, Charleston
Humane Society of The Ouachitas, Mena