Karl had been living with Jennifer Fry in Columbus since December. Jennifer first took care of him when I visited Sweden in the fall of 2008. He stayed with her again when I attended the Dachshund Club of America National events in October, 2009. Jennifer liked Karl very much. (He was a very likable guy.) In December, then, she asked if Karl could "come live in town at my house for the winter." I never got him back.
Karl received so much love and attention from Jennifer! I was grateful to her for taking such good care of him. At the same time, I wondered a little. I asked Jennifer why she was so willing to assume responsibility for a 13.5 year old dog like that. She said, simply, "Because he is family."
As a matter of fact, he was. Jennifer owns Karl's great-granddaughter Gretel.
So Jennifer had been planning a trip to visit the Knoll Family in Mississippi this summer. The dates of her visit coincided with Karl's birthday. We had wanted three things for Karl: 1. To be able to get photos of him with his extended southern family. 2. To be able to swim in their pool. (With some hand-under-the-belly assist from Laura.) Karl loved to swim! 3. And Jennifer wanted to have a combined birthday party for 'the three wise dogs', Karl and the Knoll's standard longhaired bitch Sherry and their Italian Greyhound Guido.
We had to settle for two out of three. Karl didn't get to go swimming...
He went with Jennifer to Mississippi in a box. But by gosh he went.
Photos were taken of the family. Stan called me on his cell this evening and put me on speaker phone. The bone-shaped birthday cake, iced and decorated by Anna, had 14 candles. They lit the candles. They all loudly sang Happy Birthday to Karl. I cried. It was all good.
"Family" indeed. What a blessing.
Stan gave Jennifer her present from Karl and me. She didn't know it but I'd had two photos of her and Karl made into 11x14s, mounted on heavy mount board, and sent to Mississippi for this occasion. It was Jennifer's turn for tears.