- February 18, 2009

Barbara Wood: How I came to have the second-best dog in the world

After our dog, Moose, died suddenly in December, we decided to live without a dog. It was the practical thing to do.

Because as much as we missed Moose's goofy presence in our life, things were easier without him.

I need to leave on short notice for three or more weeks at a time for the Red Cross; and with our youngest child off to college in September, Dan and I can travel more.

There was no dog hair to sweep up; no one to wake me up at 6 a.m. because he was hungry; no one to keep me from running into the park if I felt like it. Food left on the counter did not disappear. The lawn was not mined with dog poop.

But practicality lost out to one simple reality — we missed Moose. We were lonely.

It struck home about a month after Moose's death, when Dan left on a business trip. Suddenly the house was far, far too quiet.

So, just out of curiosity, I started looking at dog rescue sites on the internet and reading the Craigslist pet listings. I seriously considered a Newfoundland puppy until the owner said she was trying to teach the dogs, which can reach 150 pounds, not to jump on people.

My daughter in New York began campaigning for a Corgi. Finally, just to get her to stop e-mailing cute Corgi photos, I agreed to research the breed. The Corgi site, however, suggested I try another Web site to help figure out the best breed for my lifestyle. The only breed that met 100 percent of my criteria, it said, was a Labrador retriever.

"Well, duh," I thought. Moose, a Labrador retriever, loved to do everything I loved to do — run, hike, play, visit people and hang out in the garden.

So, late that afternoon, I checked Craigslist and found a listing for an 8-month-old chocolate lab puppy. The owner, a divorced father of two young children, said he just didn't have enough time for the dog.

He didn't have a photo, but he said the dog was friendly, great with kids and other dogs, and craved attention. I, rather foolishly, agreed to take the dog without meeting him since 59 other people also wanted him.

It was love at first sight. Wheeler (so-named because he is the exact same color as my favorite Wheeler Farms compost) fit into our family from the moment we picked him up. He is loving, friendly, playful, energetic, and very intelligent. Although he didn't have tennis balls in his old home; he quickly became obsessed with the ones he found here. (We buried at least a dozen tennis balls with Moose, but at least that many more were still scattered around.)

In fact, the day after we brought Wheeler home; I decided Moose must have picked him out for me. I sat him down in the back yard and threw Moose's favorite giant tennis ball to him. Exactly as Moose had done, to the joy of all visiting children, Wheeler popped it right back to me.

Barbara Wood is a freelance writer, photographer and gardener from Woodside. Her column runs the third week of the month.


Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 17, 2009 at 5:40 pm

If only people were as unconditional in their love and loyalty to their fellow man as dogs are to their owners what a wonderful world this would be. Dogs are so worth it. They give back so much more then we can ever give them and every dog owner knows it. This was truly a heartfelt story.

Posted by Jeff, a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Mar 3, 2009 at 7:27 pm

This is a very interesting and well written article. Brought a tear to my eye.

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