Adopted Dog Becomes the Perfect Quarantine Companion

Franklin finds safety in a storm with Shawna; then helps her weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shawna + Franklin

Health care worker Shawna thought she was afraid of dogs — until she met Franklin. His warmth, love, and companionship helped carry them through COVID-19 isolation and formed an unbreakable bond.

"I felt alone and scared of the uncertainty, so my new little Pit Bull came downstairs and isolated with me. He was with me every second that I wasn't at the hospital. We cuddled, cried, potty trained him, and mostly watched old movies. He comforted me at a time no one else could, and I witnessed him come out of his shell."

Driving home along the bottom of the Smokies, the sky turned dark and a freezing hard rain began. My car started drifting with the wind as I slowly progressed over the mountain highway. Suddenly, a small animal sprinted across the road. I hit the brakes to avoid him and hesitantly decided to pull over. No cell signal and not a car in sight. A scrawny black shadow dashed toward me. A Pit Bull! I had a fear of dogs stemming from my childhood, but he was obviously cold, underweight, and was shaking uncontrollably. I nervously got out of the car, and he stared up at me with beautiful, brown hazel eyes. I opened the back door, wrapped his wet body in a towel, and placed him inside.

After feeding the dog my leftover chicken noodle soup, I finally got a signal and called some nearby shelters. No answer. It was Saturday and I had a stray Pit Bull in my back seat. After multiple voicemails and rejections from independent shelters, I eventually called animal control. They directed me to the local county shelter to see a vet, check for a chip, and hopefully reunite this pup with his family. Finally, I headed home in the storm, but couldn’t get the little guy’s eyes out of my mind.

Macon County Animal Services soon gave me an update: no chip, no lost owners, no missing family. They sheltered him, vaccinated him, and listed him for adoption. As soon as he was eligible, I took Franklin home. He was so loving and grateful, I immediately lost my fear of dogs. 

A few weeks later, COVID-19 hit the United States and I volunteered to care for the most vulnerable patients. As an essential health care worker, my contribution was primarily intubating those that needed mechanical ventilation. Because intubation aerosolizes the virus, my colleagues and I were at a higher risk of infection. Because my mother was immunocompromised, we decided I would isolate from the family and sleep in the basement. During this time, I felt alone and scared of the uncertainty… so my new little Pit Bull came downstairs and isolated with me. He was with me every second that I wasn’t at the hospital. We cuddled, cried, potty trained him, and mostly watched old movies. He comforted me at a time no one else could, and I witnessed him come out of his shell. With a history of depression, I was on the verge of a downward spiral. My patients were dying alone and my colleagues were getting sick. I felt isolated, but knew I wasn’t. Franklin would be there to greet me with those big eyes when I got home to shower and zoom with family.

Six months later, we have learned more about COVID-19 transmission and we have more personal protective equipment (PPE) available. Franklin and I have moved back upstairs and he’s become the most comforting member of our family. We also discovered he enjoys all of our favorite activities, like hiking, kayaking and, yes, watching classic movies. We couldn’t be more grateful my kindred spirit found me on that stormy day.

Each year, Petco Love Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Shawna won Macon County Animal Services in Franklin, North Carolina a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.