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McFeely: Fran and Earl, the elderly dog couple, get adopted and all is right with the world for a moment

Owner of local pet grooming business, who has long adopted older dogs, takes in celebrity couple from Homeward Animal Shelter

Jenna Jackson poses with Earl and Fran, a pair of bonded dogs she adopted from the Homeward Animal Shelter.
Hannah Stonehouse Hudson / StonehousePhoto.com
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FARGO — We'll take a break momentarily from the gloom and doom to introduce you to someone who might be just be an angel, and she lives right here. Her name is Jenna Jackson, and she loves dogs.

She loves all dogs — all animals, actually — but Jenna particularly adores old dogs, those that don't have much of a chance to be adopted from a shelter because who, after all, would want to take in a dog that you might only get a few months or a year or two with?

Jenna would, and does. She adopts hospice dogs, those that end up in the pound or shelters that are terminally ill or near the end of life. And she gives them a home, love and a dignified end.

"I used to be the intake coordinator for a couple of the rescue organizations, and one time there was an old dog that we couldn't adopt out," Jackson said. "It was an old dog that came in and it couldn't really be adopted, so I thought I would take it. Her name was Macy, and that was my first hospice dog and she was the best dog ever. And then I just fell in love with dogs that end up in the pound and they're old and just not adoptable."

Jackson owns Sit Stay Spa, a pet grooming business in West Fargo. She chatted while giving a small dog a trim, with young employees on either side of her doing the same thing. She opened the business two years ago after working at the Mutt Hutt in Moorhead for 15 years.


Earl and Fran, dogs adopted from the Homeward Animal Shelter, stand outside the Fargo Theatre in downtown Fargo with their new owner Jenna Jackson.
Hannah Stonehouse Hudson / StonehousePhoto.com

Dogs are a central focus of her life, clearly.

"The older ones are the best. They're just so sweet," Jackson said. "They come to you and they're just super chill. Just the best."

And so, naturally, when news spread in Fargo-Moorhead that there was an elderly dog couple at the Homeward Animal Shelter — Fran and Earl — looking for a forever home after their previous person could no longer care for them, Jenna started getting messages. Nudges, really.

She should adopt Fran and Earl. She'd be the perfect pairing for them. Who could be better for these old pit bulls than Jenna?

"I saw them on Facebook, and people kept tagging me," Jenna said. "And then I heard they were super nice. So, yeah."

It became official this week when Homeward announced on social media that Fran and Earl had been adopted by Jenna (and her boyfriend, children and the family's other dogs, cats and rabbits). The event was marked by a "honeymoon" and photo shoot in downtown Fargo that included an ice cream treat for the dogs.

It gives a happy ending to a story the shelter did a wonderful, creative job of telling.

Earl is 11 1/2 years old, Fran 9 1/2. They'd been together for most of their lives with the same owner and had bonded, meaning they need to be together. When their previous person had to surrender them, Earl and Fran needed to be adopted as a pair. To separate them would've been unacceptable.


Earl and Fran, a pair of bonded dogs adopted from the Homeward Animal Shelter in Fargo.
Hannah Stonehouse Hudson / StonehousePhoto.com

Taking on two dogs is a big ask for anybody. Factor in the dogs' advanced age and the shelter faced a tough task in finding them a new home.

So, the Homeward staff got innovative.

They organized a "wedding" for Fran and Earl and made it into an event. I was asked to be the officiant and read their vows. WDAY-TV and another local station did stories on the wedding.

It was all in silly fun, meant to get the word out about Fran and Earl and the other dogs and cats currently housed at the north Fargo shelter, still awaiting their forever homes.

"We couldn't be more thrilled for Fran and Earl," said Heather Klefstad, marketing director for the Homeward shelter. "They've found the best home with Jenna and her family. It's the happily-ever-after this bonded senior pair deserved all along."

Fran and Earl are fitting in nicely with Jenna and her family. They are sleeping in beds, getting along with other pets and snuggling with the kids.

"Fran loves our kitten, a little cat I got from the pound. The kids like taking her for walks. She has more energy than I expected. She sees a leash and she's like, 'Yeah, let's go.' She's excited," Jenna said. "Earl, he's just there. He's along for the ride. He doesn't know what's going on half the time, but he's so funny. He likes cat tunnels. He'll burrow in one of my cat tunnels and roll around like a madman."

Jenna started an Instagram account — earlnfran — to document the dog couple's exploits. The posted videos tell the story.


"They're loving life," she said.

Fran and Earl have a forever home. And for moment, the madness of the world evaporates and all is good.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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