By Meredith Turner Chapman
Major was meant to be a part of our family. We had just moved to Portsmouth in 2000; we had a three-year-old and a newborn, and our beloved dog was tragically hit by a car soon after we moved into our new house. We had planned to put up a fence in our yard, but the ground was too hard, so we had to wait. We were heartbroken. We missed our dog and the sound of her nails clicking on the wood floor; we had always had a dog, so we noticed the absence of the clickety clack. The lack was so sad and a constant reminder to us that she was gone. To honor our dog, we decided to adopt an animal that needed a home from our local shelter. As we walked through the door of the building, we knew it was a special place. I filled out an adoption application and told my sad tale to Pearl. I explained I would adopt any type of dog, but I would particularly love a Setter or Spaniel type of dog. I had grown up with an English Setter as a girl. We received a call from Pearl about three weeks later. A Setter/Spaniel type of dog had just come in. His military family was moving overseas, and they could not bring him with them. I rushed over to meet Major, and I fell in love immediately. I knew this was the dog for our family. Major was eight when we adopted him, and he used to whine a lot when we first brought him home. I do believe he was worried that he would have to leave home again. We affectionately called him “Major Whiner,” but after a few months, he settled in and became the most loyal companion; he loved everyone including my small children, but he was especially fond of seniors. I remembered what Pearl had said in passing: Major used to sit with an elderly lady next door when he lived with his previous family. Later in his life, I would bring him to visit my grandmother and her friends who were in a nursing home. My Nana, a great dog lover, had always had at least one dog throughout her life. Once a week, Major and I would visit her in the nursing home in East Providence. He would carefully jump up on her bed, and she would stroke him gently and give him pieces of her leftovers. It was a match made in heaven for all parties. I think of Major a lot and in honor of him, I adopt animals from our local shelter and make donations. I can’t think of a more deserving organization that does so much for animals and people.