Late December 2006, following the devastating loss of our beloved golden retriever Rudy, the house fell desperately silent. No pitter patter from prancing puppy paws across our wood floors signaling play time; quiet prevailed when the door bell rang or a car pulled into the drive; no panting warm dog breath upon my shoulder letting me know it’s time to go outside… our grief consumed the household and our family was suffering. With almost compulsive behavior, my husband googled looking for puppies ready and available for adoption while my son’s wonderful friends continuously contacted him on social media sharing in his sorrow. I fought off tears and deep depression. On New Year’s Day, Tom found a photo of an 8-week-old chocolate lab staring into the camera wearing a New Year’s Eve party hat and a bottle of champagne parked at his side. Looking up from the computer screen I spoke, “He’s my puppy!”

edited willie happy face


The life time of a dog is tragically brief. Being an avid fan of the James Harriot novels, I knew he recommends it’s best to bring a new pet into your life as soon as possible. Without any second guessing, we ventured out into a cold snowy day to Kaiser, Ore., to meet out newest family member.

Willie was the last to be adopted from his litter. He was the cutest little guy with dark chocolate brown coloring, a tiny round pink belly, and a wrinkly sweet face with long limp ears. He was placed into my arms like a newborn baby. The warmth of his fresh puppy breath on my cheek and soft puppy whimpers, I knew I was a goner. He rode home with us happily cradled and wonting endless loving attention.

Immediately he was introduced to our home on five acres as we captured every exploratory sniff and frolic with a camera. That evening friends visited to meet Willie and coddle him as if he had just arrived home from the maternity ward. Our healing process had begun.

Having previously owned three golden retrievers and losing two young dogs to cancer, we opted to try a new breed. Apparently, I should have been better informed as to the “neediness” of the Labrador. Life was all about Willie. He would require constant attention including active playtime and loving caresses in the rocking chair. If he’d been bottle feeding and receiving diaper changes, I would have believed I’d just given birth. To get attention, Willie would become “naughty.” No aggressive or harmful behavior displayed just attention getting naughtiness like ripping up newspapers and magazines; eating paper napkins and Kleenex; chewing socks and a cell phone or two. Yes, Willie made demands and we obeyed.

I was exhausted. Thank goodness Willie was being crate trained so we could get an occasional break. Providing constant entertainment for Willie was a must. Tom and I would stand at each end of the property running Willie between us watching his stout little puppy legs hurdle across the yard only to receive a Cherrio or two. Puppy friends would come over for “puppy play dates.” And Willie’s all time favorite game “hide and seek” is a daily event. He loves to search for his Kong hidden somewhere in the house and even better is finding his Wubba hidden somewhere on our property. The shear energy and intelligence of this dog makes for one conclusion: Willie needs a job!

Unfortunately Willie’s employment options would be limited, he has some behavioral challenges. Sometimes with increased intelligence comes increased sensory sensitivity. His fear of loud sounds can be crippling and he seeks out safe shelter usually behind the couch. There is also the fear of trash cans, cars, noisy kitchen appliances, both plastic and paper bags, any beeping sound and the all dreaded nail clipper. One must prepare for battle when clipping Willie’s toenails … best to suit up with layers of towels and treats.

Life has been good with Willie especially his loving nature and little quirks. Our family has healed and grown to love this little brown wonder. He is so much a part of our daily routine. As for Willie, he has an obsessive requirement for routine in his life. Shall I call it “dogtism” but that’s another story. Thanks Willie, we love you and are blessed you came into our lives.
Love your pets, ~nan~



Moved to Clark County in 1981. Spent our first year of marriage in Alaska and childhood and college years in Ohio. Happily married for over thirty years raised four dogs, two cats, and one is good!

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