About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Darlin' Companion

Here's Willie in all his baby cuteness at six weeks old. Twelve years later here he is getting ready to celebrate New Years 2008. We've been together for 13 years now and he is my Darlin' Companion (Remember the old Johnny and June Carter Cash duet? ". . .you give me understanding. . .gonna stick by you, darlin' companion). Our host for this week's Fun Monday is Sayre over at Sayre Smiles and she's given us a real easy assignment since it's a holiday for the US Fun Mondayers. Sayre want us to share some photos of our fur-fin-feather or skin babies. And, what's the story on how we came to live together?

I was not thinking rationally when I threw a milk crate in the car and went over to friend L's house in response to her telephone call inviting me to come over and have a look at these two cute puppies she had found by the Ben Franklin store dumpster near her home. But, do we ever behave sensibly when confronted with a few pounds worth of sleek puppy wiggles? The thing was, I already had a houseful of high maintenance dogs, all male--Zack the crazy border collie, Frank the chow-German shepherd mix, and Dan the golden. You already know the rest of the story though, Willie was loaded in the milk crate and brought home (my good friend S took his sister Hallie home with her). We never knew anything about the previous owners and why the pups were abandoned. They were well cared for and socialized, but all our efforts to find their owners came to nothing. We speculate that they were abandoned because of the obvious pit bull in their mix. It was about that time in 1996 that it was becoming an issue to own a so called dangerous breed like a pit bull in Louisville.

For the next six years our house was a battleground. I knew nothing about handling a strong breed, especially when mixed with three other males who had been accustomed to living together in a chaotic undisciplined manner. They never fought each other. But Willie changed the mix. From puppyhood, he methodically challenged the other dogs for alpha position, starting with Frank the chow-german shepherd and working down to Dan the golden. I mostly walked a tightrope trying to quell the squabbles before they escalated to bloodshed levels. The three older dogs hung on to old age, sadly not as peaceful as they deserved. Dan was the last, dying of heart problems in 2002. Willie finally got to be an only dog

He thrived on all my attention. I was determined to turn him around with a steady regimen of exercise, discipline and affection. When I retired in 2006 we spent even more time together. He is with me 24/7 and we both love it. We take long daily walks and he is always by my side. Luckily I don't do a lot of housework so he gets to sleep a lot, important for an old boy! We spend a lot of time in this corner of the house--on the computer, blogging, netflixing, reading, writing, sometimes watercoloring if the mood strikes. Willie lies on his bed under the desk. It is not unusual for us to be here in the wee hours of the morning. It's a good life.

People who meet Willie now can not believe that he used to be such a "bad" boy. I never have to worry about him confronting other dogs when we're out in the neighborhood. In fact, he has good friends that we stop to chat with, like Cooper the yellow lab. They have peeing contests through the fence and Cooper presses into the chain link to get his butt scratched. Never a bark or snarl. Willie is just secure that's he's number 1 with me. And it's true, he's my Darlin' Companion.

Now be sure to check out everyone else's best buddies after you've celebrated Labor Day.

(Note: Swampy, if you're reading this, notice those two purple balls on the desk to the left. Meet Paris and Lindsay--remember I recommended you sitting on a couple of these in your car when you have to do those 500 mile drives? Works like a charm to relieve the pressure on your "brain". :-)


Debs said...

What a lovely story. I'm so glad Willie ended up going to your home and having such a good life.

Love the photos; so sweet.

Patience-please said...

Smiles, from head to toe!

Jan said...

You and Willie are both lucky. Once, my daughter brought home a small bundle she found in the gutter...he fit in the palm. He grew to be waist high and handsome.

I haven't read "Lost & Found" by Jacqueline Sheehan, let me know if you like it, when you're done.

Sayre said...

Some dogs are meant to be only dogs. Sounds like Willie was one of those. Now that he's the only dog, he can relax about his place in the world and not feel like he needs to challenge anyone to know what it is...

My grandmother has always had a dog companion right up until just before last Christmas. She says that Freddie was the last. At age 90, she's not sure she'd outlive the next one and doesn't want to die on her dog.

Jan n Jer said...

Awww Faye, that is such a sweet story. Willie is so lucky you came along and saved him from who knows what. Its great that you have each other to keep company with. Happy FM. BTW the birds on my blog, are I think sparrows.

Gattina said...

What a good companion you have now, that proves again that a dog has to have a good education and a lot of love, a dog is never dangerous their owners make them to be bad.

Faye said...

debs--yes, it is a good story. I learned from Willie that a happy dog is one that has boundaries with a little indulgence thrown in for good measure.

patience--Willie is not a comedian, but he's peaceful and even-keeled. Makes me smile.

jan--all my dogs have been rescues--you take a chance, but the rewards are great. I just finished "Lost and Found". Recommend as its much more than just a "dog love" tale.

sayre--keep saying that I've probably got one more dog left in me. Still a large breed but probably softer than Willie's mix. Hope I am still able to care for a dog in mid-eighties. They're actually the best exercise buddies because you feel like such a heel for not walking them.

janis--this is bad, to not be able to identify a robin. . .

gattina--I agree. Pet owners are responsible for "channeling" desired behavior.

Beckie said...

Great Story!

karisma said...

Willie sounds a bit like my Miko! She does not want to be the lowest in the chain of command either. She however does fight with Bella all the time, although lately she says her bit and runs for it! LOL! Bella has utmost respect for Maxi being the Alpha dog but when it comes to Miko she takes charge as Miko does not agree with her!

willowtree said...

Too bad it took so long to get there, but now you're there you can really enjoy it.

gracie said...

nice story! also liked your post about Michael. I am always looking at the names of those who passed on Sundays to see if I recognize any of them, if any of them went to Basic or Medic training with me. So far, only one that I know of has passed away, we went for basic training and medic school together

Lil Mouse said...

Aww. My parents have a 'willie' but he's a black lab, and his brother Cole is the aggressive one. They have a lot of fun though!

BS said...

Great story - Willie is the winner for finding you.

m (the misanthrope) said...

Hello my friend! I'm just making the FM rounds now. I was hoping to see and read more Willie details, and you did not disappoint! He is such a wonderful dog.

To answer your question about parrots - yes, they require a LOT of care, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. African Greys have the intelligence level of a 3-year-old child, and as such, they need constant attention and stimulation.

Like you, I miss my animals terribly when I'm away even for a few hours, and I can't wait to get home to see them...especially the Grey. He has a special whistle that he only makes for me when I come home, and it melts me into a puddle every time.

Sounds like your neighbor had a flirtatious parrot! Parrots are so intelligent, it wouldn't surprise me if Crackers was a flirt.

Like kids, they do whatever it takes to get attention from humans...and that's why it's important to never scold bad behavior, but instead to just put the bird in time out in their cage for a little while. That way, they learn that positive behavior gets positive attention, and bad behavior gets zero attention!

Last but definitely not least, thank you so much for sharing my exuberance at Kilkenny's victory. I love NFL football, but I grew up with Kilkenny hurling - I wasn't kidding when I said I had a team jersey at age 7 that fit me like a dress. I didn't want to take it off. Every time Kilkenny takes the field, win or lose, I'm emotionally involved.

How cool that you have a friend from Clare, and that you got introduced to hurling that way! That's a beautiful part of the country; I'm still in touch with one of my English teachers from when I was in school over there. She has since retired and moved back to her native Clare. OK, I'll shut up now, sorry for hogging the comments!

Faye said...

beckie--yep, a good story that could have turned out so badly.

karisma--I had a look at your Miko and I was properly scared--what a powerful little dog, never mind that she's talented enough to sing "On Top of Old Smokey All Covered with Cheese." :-)

willowtree--it's the case of those sad but true words, if I only knew then what I know now. But at least I turned old Willie around before he got too old. And at 13, he's very healthy and active.

grace--thanks for reading my Chance post. Always wondered if you were military. Our local paper used to publish casualty numbers for Iraq and Afghanistan at least weekly. Don't see it so often any more. They need to continue reporting.

lil mouse--it's a good thing that they're so cute. Many times tempted to return Willie--out of sympathy for the older dogs. Fortunately didn't.

bs--so you know first hand about escorting fallen soldiers home? That's a great thing your father does and much appreciated by the families, I'm sure.

misanthrope--time out for birds? Ha! I used to do the same with Willie when he was just unbearable. He had to lie in his rabbit cage and think about his sins. . .