Get ready to shed some very happy holiday tears.
Last Tuesday, Joseph Naylor met the most perfect puppy in the world at the SPCA of Brevard, the Florida animal shelter where his sister Susan Naylor works as a spokesperson.
The puppy's mother had been confiscated from her owner, who treated her cruelly, while she was still pregnant. Two months ago, the pup was born in the shelter, along with nine siblings.
The 33-year-old was interested in adopting a dog, if he found the right one. So when Susan said the puppies were ready for homes, Joseph came by the shelter to meet them.
One immediately stood out.
"I didn’t pick him, he picked me. He came up to me at the shelter and I could see in his face that he wanted to come home with me," Joseph told TODAY. "I instantly fell in love."
Joseph felt so much of a connection that he named the puppy right there on the spot: Waylon, after the musician Waylon Jennings.
He texted a picture of the pup to his brother and sister-in-law, Jared and Summer Naylor — with whom he lives in Port St. John, Florida, along with their three dogs — to get their approval.
"(I) got radio silence from them," Joseph said. "I didn’t think they were going to go for it."
Joseph felt even more bereft when Susan told him multiple adoption applications had been submitted. She said if he didn't come in soon, the pup would be gone.
Joseph, who is the service manager at a pet-friendly barbecue restaurant, was a work at the time.
He still hadn't gotten any word from Jared and Summer. "I was bummed out," he said. "I really fell for (Waylon)."
Little did Joseph know that his siblings had chipped in for Waylon's adoption fee, and were going to give Waylon to Joseph that evening. (To stem some concern: Contrary to what you may have been told, most major animal welfare-organizations agree that pets can make great gifts.)
"Joe has a heart of gold and does so much for everyone in our family and beyond. We knew he wanted a puppy and it was Jared’s idea to surprise him with this one," Susan told TODAY.
"I had absolutely no idea what was going on," Joseph said.
Susan says she's never seen her brother so happy in all her life. "Seeing someone, especially my brother, who I obviously love dearly, being moved so much to find out he gets to share his life with a new puppy makes my heart happy," she said.
Being a good shelter spokesperson, Susan has an important holiday message to add:
"There are a ton of amazing dogs and cats sitting in shelters across the country right now," she said. "I promise, the love you receive in return will make you happier than any material purchase you could make this holiday season."
As thrilled as Joseph felt when Waylon was placed in his arms, those feelings have only grown in the days since.
"(He) loves to snuggle up in my arms," Joseph said. Luckily, Waylon gets along well with the other dogs in the household. "I plan on taking him fishing with me Sunday morning," Joseph said. "He’s going to go everywhere possible with me."
Joseph said he never expected the video of him and Waylon becoming a family to attract so much attention, but he's glad for all of it. "I just knew I was happy and wanted to share my happiness," he said.