Finding a home for Max and Faith: Man must part with pets

Due to health issues, elderly Orchards resident seeks new owner for beloved companions

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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UPDATE: Max and Faith may have found a new home.

A Salmon Creek man who read The Columbian’s Friday story about John Schumacher parting with his 10-year-old dogs is interested in adopting the duo.

The man, who wished to only be identified by his first name of Tom, said he is meeting with Schumacher, 87, and his dogs Saturday at their Orchards home.

“I think everyone is going to get along just fine,” Tom said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

Schumacher must re-home his dogs — he’s had them since they were young pups — due to a series of unfortunate circumstances.

His health is failing. His son and daughter-in-law who live across the street have been caring for him since his wife died in April 2012. But his daughter-in-law now has cancer, and they can’t continue in-home care for Schumacher. He is moving into an assisted living facility in Battle Ground and can’t take Max and Faith with him.

Tom said he and Schumacher had “a great phone conversation” Friday, and said that it sounds like he already shares similar interests with Max and Faith: eating treats and taking naps.

He owns an 8-year-old female dog and has a fully fenced yard, he said.

If Saturday’s meet-and-greet goes well, Tom will then introduce his dog to Max and Faith on neutral ground.

He’s already establishing a frozen bone account for the dogs, he said jokingly.

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A stack of moving boxes has accumulated in the living room of John Schumacher’s Orchards home. Packing has been slow-going. His attention is somewhere else.

He sits next to the boxes, reminiscing about his days as a Navy corpsman in the Korean War and his late wife. His 10-year-old dogs, Max and Faith, snooze at his feet.

“It is so painful for me to give my doggies up because I know it will be so traumatic for them,” Schumacher said.

He chokes up at the thought of parting with his beloved canines, but due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, that’s exactly what the 87-year-old is having to do.

His son and daughter-in-law who live across the street have been caring for him since his wife died in April 2012. Schumacher’s health is failing; he has coronary artery disease, among other issues, he said, and it’s difficult for him to do everything on his own. No longer can he make a daily trip to the Orchards dog park, where he was known as Uncle John.

Now his daughter-in-law has cancer, and the couple is unable to continue in-home care for Schumacher. He will soon move into an assisted living facility in Battle Ground and can’t take Max and Faith with him.

“I cry every night, when I talk about it and think about it,” he said. “I cry about this because it’s breaking my heart to give them up.”

For the last month, Schumacher and his family and friends have been searching for a new home for Max and Faith. A few people have shown interest, but Schumacher hasn’t found a good fit yet, he said.

He is adamant the dogs remain together, because he knows the parting is going to be tough on them.

A friend of Schumacher’s, Jessica Berrigan, has agreed to foster the dogs at her Yacolt home until they can find a permanent home. However, she is hoping someone comes forward soon, she said, because she already has three dogs and a cat.

Berrigan said she has posted the adoption information on several commercial websites, plus the Lost & Found Pets of Vancouver, WA and Lost & Found Pets of Battle Ground, Yacolt and Surrounding Areas Facebook pages. Unfortunately, she hasn’t gotten much interest yet.

“A lot of people aren’t interested in adopting older dogs,” Berrigan said. Though, when she contacted a few different rescues, they assured her a 10-year-old dog is not geriatric.

Rescue animals

Max and Faith have been inseparable since the Schumachers adopted them as pups.

Schumacher rescued Max, a German shorthaired pointer mix, when he was 10 weeks old from a shelter. Max’s previous owner only had him for about a month before realizing he wouldn’t be able to keep him.

The Schumachers had just made the difficult decision to euthanize their two dogs due to old age and illness. They had decided not to get any more dogs, in part because of their own health concerns and advancing ages.

But when Schumacher saw Max’s photo in the local newspaper, it reminded him too much of one of the dogs he had just parted with, he said. He called the shelter that night and sure enough, Max was still available.

One-year-old Faith, a heeler and terrier mix, came shortly after. She was also a rescue animal that had been placed with multiple foster families because of her escape-artist ways. He said those days are long behind her, however.

“It’s been a blessing for me to have them,” Schumacher said of his furry companions. “They are my comfort.”

Both dogs are in good health, he said, in spite of their age. Max recently received a full checkup at Orchards Veterinary Clinic, where there’s a flier with his adoption information. Faith also had a checkup not long ago, Schumacher said.

They would do well with other dogs and children, though he’d like to avoid a home with cats — Max likes to chase them. Both pets are gentle and will take treats by hand.

Max and Faith enjoy riding in the car and love playing at the dog park. A game of fetch the ball is a must.

“Max is full of life. He loves people,” Schumacher said. He likes to share Cheerios and romp around the yard. Faith is a little less active, he added.

Both are housebroken and leash trained, he said, and they know some commands, such as sit.

“We all have routines. When I go to bed at night, I get under the covers and I’ll say, ‘Oh Max is a good boy. Max is a really good boy. I love my Max.’ And then I give him a treat. Then I say, ‘Oh Faith is a good girl. Faith is a really good girl. I love my Faith.’ And I give her a treat,” Schumacher said.

They do this a couple times, and then he tells them good night; Max leaves the room and Faith jumps onto the bed. She sleeps with Schumacher every night.

Schumacher is looking for someone who will be kind, loving and patient with his dogs. They must have a fenced yard and keep the dogs inside at night. He will send a large bag of food with them, he said, and is amenable to working with the adopter if there are special circumstances.

“If they have any conscience at all for God’s creatures, they will love them,” Schumacher said. “(Max and Faith) will work their way into their hearts.”

To adopt

Anyone interested in adopting Max and Faith can contact Berrigan by email at b.jessicam@gmail.com.