Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homecoming on Atwood Street: Excerpt #3

Homecoming on Atwood Street. Excerpt #3: Follow the Dog Home Book

Just before Thanksgiving, I slipped a note inside the
mail slot at the old family home on Atwood Street. I
explained our family history there and asked if we could
visit and re-create the family photo on the stoop, with
new family additions and new dogs. A few days later, a
nice email landed in my mailbox that said, “Sure.”
Two weeks after the 2011 New Year, Dad and my
stepmother Mary drove up to Massachusetts from
Connecticut. They brought their Corgi Annie with them.
Jean and I brought our dog Beverly along with the girls to
the house on Atwood Street. We shared bagels, blueberry
breakfast cake, coffee, and warm conversation with our
hosts. They couldn’t have been more kind welcoming us
in and sharing details of who lived in the house long after
Dad’s family left during World War II.

Bob Walsh, welcomed back to his childhood home on Atwood Street, 2011

Before leaving, we plunked ourselves down on the
stoop, trying our best to get the positioning of people and
the angle of the shot just right. It wasn’t easy. A blizzard
had dumped almost two feet of snow on New England
the day before, and temperatures that morning were in
the single digits. Despite chattering teeth we tried to look
happy and comfortable.
Just before we took the picture, the sun lifted over the
oak trees lining the street, producing brilliant light, and
bumping the temperature up just a smidge. It was perfect
timing. The natural light, the glow in our hearts, and our
gratitude for being welcomed home produced a warm,
cheerful picture on the coldest of days. It was a magical
way to bring my father back to his old home on Atwood
Street seventy years later.

The Walsh family gathered on the stoop of the house on
Atwood Street in January 2011, seventy years after Bob and
his family lived there. From left: Beverly, Kevin, Bob holding
Annie, Amanda, Jean, and Samantha.

I find it serendipitous that my family ended up in the
same town where my father’s family had earlier roots. Dad
has no memory of it. Not because he’s too old, but because
he was too young. Jean and I had never been to Wellesley
previously and had no preconceived desire to live there.
We backed into the deal simply because Wellesley was the
only town where we could find a rental home that would
allow a dog as big as ours. Now that we’re here, we love it
and hope to stay forever.

When I look at the pictures of my dad sitting on the
stoop of his Atwood Street home seventy years apart, I see
a young boy who grew to become a distinguished, elderly
man. I see the changing seasons and changing fashions.
I see those who have left us and those who have joined
us. But more than anything, I see a constant, a common
ground—dogs linking the generations together like
nothing else can.

Our dogs have given us so much: lessons to learn,
challenges to face, pain to bear, and joy to share. If they
hadn’t come in the order that they did, with the timing
of their arrivals and departures what they were, what’s
become of our lives might be very different. Looking back,
without our need for a rental home that allowed a big
dog, and without Beverly’s curious nose, there would have
been no Wellesley for us, no return to Atwood Street for
Dad, and no story to be told. It’s that simple: we followed
the dog home.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Home is Found: Excerpt from Follow the Dog Home

Excerpt #2, Follow the Dog Home Book

I called my Aunt Jean (Walsh) Bryant. I learned a few
weeks after moving to Wellesley that Aunt Jean had lived
there for thirty-five years before retiring to Cape Cod
in the late eighties. I figured if anyone might be able to
explain the attraction, it would be Aunt Jean. Was the
house on Atwood Street once hers?
“No, no, no,” Aunt Jean answered. “We lived on Abbott
Road. It was your father who lived on Atwood Street.
You do know your family history in Wellesley don’t you
dee-ah?” Aunt Jean asked leadingly in her most loving of
Boston accents.

Jean (Walsh) Bryant is the family
historian. At age eighty-four, she
remembers just about everything,
which was instrumental in the
amazing connection uncovered in
this story. Even though she’s my
father’s cousin many of us call
her “Aunt Jean.”

 Her answer shocked me. “No, actually I don’t,” I said,
“other than your family living here.”
“Your father lived on Atwood Street behind St. Paul’s
right before the war. He was just a baby when they moved
out. He probably doesn’t even remember it, dear.”
When Aunt Jean shared the address of Dad’s house, I
was floored. It was the same house that Beverly sniffed
around and made me do a double take.
While Aunt Jean was talking my mind started drifting
back in time. I wondered whether there were any photos
of the old house. I remembered years ago that Dad had
been cleaning out his basement in Ledyard, Connecticut.
He sent me a dusty suitcase filled with old black and
whites. I had looked at the pictures briefly before closing
the suitcase up, not expecting to open it again for a while.
My lasting memory—there’s a lot of history in there that
I don’t understand—and I sure do look like my dad and
grandfather when they were younger. Aunt Jean’s voiced
snapped me back to our conversation.
“Is St. Paul’s going to be your church?” Aunt Jean asked
Still shocked by the revelation I could hardly answer.
“Yes, it will be,” I managed to say a moment later.
“Well, great. When you get there, go to the back of the
church and you’ll see your grandfather’s name on the
back wall. He’s on The Roll of Honor for having served
in the war.”
When we went to Mass the next Sunday, I walked
through the stained oak doors that give St. Paul’s
additional character to its red bricks. To the left, I saw The
Roll of Honor with names of dozens of parishioners who
served in the World War and World War II. I looked to
the bottom right and there it was, Albert J. Walsh, in gold
letters looking right back at me. I was just two years old
when he passed away in 1972.
To see your family name for the first time in a place
of honor, and in the Lord’s house, is a lot to handle. It is
spiritual and profound—something you feel as much as
you see. That visual evoked an internal validation that I
had work to do beyond the original job that brought us to
suburban Boston, and to Wellesley in particular.

In the fall of 2010, I started to put together the outline
of this book with my dad and Samantha. I went through
boxes, drawers, envelopes, you name it. When I got to
Dad’s dusty suitcase, one photo stopped me dead in my
tracks. I saw my father as a child, posing with his family
and his first dog Dee Dee on the stoop of a home. It looked
so familiar. When I saw the house number above the door
I knew why.

Bob Walsh (Kevin’s dad), left,
and his twin brother, Dick, as
toddlers just months prior to
Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor,
sitting on the front stoop of the
family home—on Atwood Street—with their dog Dee
Dee, sister Boots, and mom.

Albert Walsh (Bob’s dad) would later join
the war effort serving with the Navy.

* In the next blog posting, Bob returns to his childhood home on Atwood Street
in Wellesley for a very special reunion, 70 years later.

Friday, October 28, 2011

One Great Discovery: Excerpt from Follow the Dog Home

The Following is an excerpt from Follow the Dog Home:

Life is good in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Always has been,
always will be. We arrived in town the first week of August
in 2009. My wife, Jean, and daughters Samantha and
Amanda, and German Shepherd, Beverly, were looking for
a fresh start after relocating from Wilmington, Delaware.
I was starting a new job with a major television sports
network after a year in limbo in a tough economy. After a
few days of unpacking at our rental home on Francis Road
near the Sprague Athletic Fields, we needed a break.
It was a Saturday morning and Beverly was eager to go
for a walk. I needed to find a church for Mass the next day.
A neighbor said St. Paul Church on Atwood Street was
the closest one, and within walking distance. It was the
perfect opportunity to take Beverly for her first long walk
around town, get some exercise myself, and find a parish
for the family.

Kevin Walsh

Kevin Walsh. This is Kevin Walsh’s second book. His first
one, The Marrow in Me, details his courageous journey to
donate bone marrow to a sixteen-year-old boy he had never
met. Kevin is married to Jean and is a seasoned sports and
news broadcaster with Comcast Sportsnet New England and
New England Cable News Network. He was the lead reporter
in the locker room when the Bruins won hockey’s Stanley Cup
in Vancouver in 2011. Turn on the tube; you might see Kevin
looking right back at you.

It was a gorgeous summer morning, and I couldn’t help
but think: this is the perfect place for us. Located about
thirteen miles west of downtown Boston, the Town of
Wellesley, as it’s officially called, resembles a Norman
Rockwell painting. Its classic colonial and Victorian
homes and streets are lined with old-fashioned lamps that
light the way.


Three-year-old Beverly is the Walsh family’s second German
Shepherd. She loves to play with children and is especially happy
to fetch the golf balls that Kevin chips around the backyard.
When she’s not outside playing ball, Beverly enjoys curling up in
bed with older sisters Amanda and Samantha for a good read.

About the length of a par four, Atwood Street links State
Street and Wellesley Avenue. It’s the quintessential New
England neighborhood that just about anyone would be
proud to live in, and to which plenty aspire. The mostly
colonial homes are above average in size and off the charts
in charm. Traditional whites, grays, yellows, and greens
dominate the home colors. Matching or contrasting
louvered shutters accent the windows.

Authors Bob, Samantha and
Kevin Walsh

Everything fits. If you can imagine a well-dressed man
or woman with accessories that complement a wristwatch,
a belt, and a matching pair of shoes, you can imagine
the good taste that Atwood Street has. The front-door
light fixtures go well with the brass knockers and house
numbers. Nothing is overdone, or underdone. It’s just
right. And it’s been this way ever since the neighborhood
was developed in the late 1920s.
As I lumbered along Atwood Street that glorious
August morning in 2009, the sweet smells of honeysuckle
and morning glory flowers teased my nose. Sunlight broke
through the trees and bounced off dewy plants. Sprinklers
went tick, tick, tick, delivering the water that made the
grass so green, the gardens so bright, and the driveways so
wet. I could feel my heart rate increasing, sweat beading
on my forehead, and a slight burn filling my thighs from
the early jog.

Ahead to the right was an opening in the trees. It was
the back parking lot of St. Paul’s Church. I’d be there in
a moment, but not before taking in the scenery right in
front of me and off to the sides. In a sweeping motion
with the back of my right hand I wiped the sweat from my
forehead and brow. When I tilted my head to the left to do
it, my eye caught a stately house—not for the specifics—
but the composite. The home colors were soft and similar,
blending nicely with the trees and shrubs around it. It was
stunning, as all-American as they come, the kind of house
I’d love to buy.

Beverly and I kept coming back to the neighborhood
around St. Paul’s. And when we did, Beverly took a
particular liking to the smells of the properties around
the halfway point of Atwood Street. I don’t know why
that was, it just … was. She would slow down and sniff,
sometimes stopping abruptly. Whether this signified
something greater, I did not know yet, but her sniffing
certainly slowed me down and created the opportunity to
take a closer look at the houses around her casting net.
Inevitably, my eyes would be drawn to the same
beautiful home that caught my attention the first time,
and so many other times since. There was a pull about the
place—a connection. Beverly tugs me down that home’s
footpath almost every time we pass by on our regular
walks now.

It turns out there’s a very appropriate explanation for
why she and I felt a strange pull at the house on Atwood
Street for the first time in 2009.

Ditch the Kennel, Hire the Neighborhood Kid

Samantha, dogsitter extraordinaire

I don’t have anything against kennels, they fulfill a need. But if you have a choice, I say hire the neighborhood kid to watch your dog while you’re away. I’ve been on both ends of it.

When I was a boy I took care of a couple of dogs. My brother did too. It was fun and pretty good money. The dog got to stay where it was most comfortable—inside its home—and we became additional trustees in the dog’s world. That’s important for a couple of reasons. If a dog is ever on the loose, or in danger, and needs to hear a trusted voice—you could be the one. I can’t tell you how many times I shepherded neighbors’ dogs home.

Not only that, you get to know your neighbors better and develop a trust with them. When we lived in Wilmington, Delaware, we could always count on the Collins kids next door. They were dependable, our dogs loved them, and I felt much better about giving my money to them than to a kennel.

I don’t see a lot of kids today knocking on doors for driveways to shovel, or leaves to rake. I don’t think it’s because they’re totally work averse, they just don’t always know where the work is. Create a job for them. It works for everybody.

Ever been a dogsitter? Share a story below.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What the Dog Smelled: City Dogs

Minus open space, I suppose city living is good for dogs too.  I snapped this picture right near the Boston Garden, home of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Bruins.

Near Boston Garden

There are lots of smells in the cty, and we know nothing--absolutely nothing--ever smells bad to a dog. The fact that most city dwellers have small lawns or no grass at all, it kind of forces the take a walk issue. A walk down Walsh Place in Boston's North End (pciture and sign below), is just as good as a walk down Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay, Madison Avenue in New York, or even Skid Row in LA. Dogs hardly care about the real estate so long as the walk in brisk, the stops are frequent and the aromas are rich.

Walsh Place, North End

We all know that dogs live for strolls with their owners and the smells they discover along the way. The best things we can do is let them sniff away, even if it slows down the cardio. I read a book excerpt in which the author compared that to snatching the newspaper out of a reader's hands. Man I had no idea. I've done that so many times. Have you? Include an interesting dog story of your own below.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dogs and Pajama Parties

Pajama Party with Beverly
and Walsh girls

Is there any happier animal on earth in the morning than dogs? Sure their bladders are as full as ours, but it hardly zaps their zest for living. I need a cup of coffee or two before I'm even close to thinking I'm happy to start the day. If early morning is the time to be grumpy, it's a clock dogs don't bother to read.

I remember several years ago when tennis ace Andre Agassi was going through a rough patch in his life. He had just been divorced from Brooke Shields and his play suffered mightily. Then he got a dog and his attitude became sunnier. He told an interviewer, "I wake up and look at that puppy and he's just happy to be alive. I want to be like a puppy."

Sure it's goofy, but there's a lot to be said for that. If we can have a fraction of that same joy for life, life would be a whole lot better. It's up to us to manufacture it. My girls and a houseguest woke up to an early morning movie and (visiting dog) Annie kisses. I've got a bowl of Rice Krispies and I'm on my first cup of Joe as I watch it unfold. I have a busy day ahead. If it gets crappy at any point, I'll think of the morning pajama party!

How does your dog make your morning better? Share a comment below.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Playground for Dogs

Beverly at Playground

So long as the playground is relatively clear, it's a good place to take your dog to do basic agility skills. Playground equipment is not unlike what you'd find at a real dog training facility. We take Beverly over to the playground and she loves it. There are plenty of stairs to climb, platforms to jump on to and leap from. Beverly has been known to tackle a slide, and zip through tunnels too. She's a house dog to us, but she comes from working lines. There's probably a carryover. Whatever the case, it's just a lot of fun for her to enjoy what my children and friends do. I'm pretty sure she just sees herself as one of the girls. And the girls, they just love her.

Beverly and playground friends

Have you ever taken your dog to the playground? What was the reaction? Include it and a comment below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Runaway Dogs

In earlier blogs I shared some of my more memorable stories which wouldn’t have happened if the dog didn’t get out of the house, or yard. It’s funny when it’s all over and nobody got hurt. But while it’s happening it can be scary and a pain in the okole.

Michael Walsh with Danielle. She was cute, but she was
a wanderer. 1977

Susie's escapes and wanderings were legendary. In 1990, she found the other Kevin Walsh on a campus of 40,000 other students. Her story is written about in Follow the Dog Home.

Every dog I’d ever had, prior to German Shepherds, has had wanderlust. My Shepherds have really had no interest to explore the world, because their world was wherever I was. They’re like shadows. They like hanging around the homestead.

When children came along things changed. Beverly gets very upset when she can’t be with my children and the neighbor kids playing outside. She’s a protector and that’s a good thing. The trouble is, the pack of kids wander. What starts in our backyard sometimes migrates next door, and down the road. The kids just go, and Beverly would often follow. That created some problems, namely concerns about passing cars.

Wherever the pack is, Beverly follows.
And that means everywhere, 2009.

To keep Beverly on the property we installed an underground fence which provides a beeping sound when the dog gets too close to the property line, and a mild shock if she crosses it. For the most part it works quite well. But instinct can trump technology. We’ve seen it. Bev will willingly take a zap and cross the line to keep an eye on the kids. I’m a fan of the underground fence, but it’s not foolproof. And anyone who thinks it is, is just plain foolish.

Have a story to share? Do so below.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Find Your Dog a JOB!

Zeta, Wellesley Country Club

There's no better place for a dog than on a golf course. Well, maybe a farm--and even then it's a tie. The point is open space and a job mean so much to a dog. Manning the golf cart is nine-year-old, Zeta. The Weimeranar spends almost everyday on the golf course with her owner, Bill the greenskeeper. When he goes to work, she goes too. It's companionship and purpose. This is what dogs live for.

Seeing Zeta when I caddy reminds me of Clyde. Clyde was a golf course dog at Brandywine Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware. Clyde, a Spaniel/Lab mix, would chase the Canada Geese away from the ponds around the first and 18th holes. That was good because those birds dropped bombs everywhere. The average Canada Goose drops five pounds of doo doo a day--very messy. Clyde was cooler than his name, and a heckuva worker. Like Zeta, he'd ride around on Greg the Greenskeeper's cart. If something needed addressing, Clyde was out of that cart so fast. And Clyde loved being fussed over by members.

Zeta's a good girl. I had a good chat with her owner while playing golf myself on a Monday morning. Bill says she loves to be with him. But if it rains, she'd rather stay inside. I'm cool with that too. It's not supposed to rain on golf courses.

Have a cool working dog story to share? Leave a response and include a picture if you have one.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bring Your Dog to School

One of my fondest memories of elementary school was classmates bringing their dogs to the classroom for show and tell. Does anybody do that today? I don't think so. But where I live in suburban Boston, plenty of people walk their kids to school and bring the dogs along for drop off. Some days there may be as many as a dozen dogs on school grounds. I think it's a good learning tool, even for the people who don't like it. Tolerance, if we're to believe the ideal, is a good thing to be applied across a diverse landscape. And there's more. Dogs are a way of life. They're not going anywhere. Irrational fear of them is, in my opinion, terribly limiting. A child with a dog phobia can cross off more than a third of potential playdates because there's a dog waiting at the home of their friend. That's unfortunate.

For those who say dogs don't belong at school, I just have a different opinion. If there are allergies, that's understandable. Just don't be oopy boopy about it. You can stay away from the dog just as easily as he or she can stay away from you. And, of course, the handler has a responsibility to have a good handle on their dog. Some of the best learning and growth happens when you confront your fears and get out of your comfort zone. The nice thing is, when dogless people give it a try, the dogs and their owners almost always and exceedingly help you in the effort. Agree, or disagree? Share a comment below.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When Dogs Sniff Butts

It must be the immature little boy that lives inside my body, you know the one who still thinks farts and bathroom jokes are awesome. I'm amused that dogs have no shame about doing plenty of things openly that humans only do in private. But that doesn't mean I can't be grossed out by them. The butt sniffing of dogs? I don't think I can ever get quite comfortable with that. I'll keep it clean because I know my dad reads this blog and gets famously annoyed with me when I talk about poop and poopers. The funny thing is when our book, Follow the Dog Home , was read by several editors, they loved the dog poop stories that Dad, me and Samantha argued about. And because my children ask about it, doggy greetings are fair game. Sorry Dad.

Beverly says hello to Chance

When dogs sniff each others' butts it's the equivalent of a handshake. You know that already. But there's more to it that's as primative as it is social. The most complete answer I could find that says a lot in a little was in another dog blog-- My Dog, My Self. To boil it down to a whiff or two, dogs sniff to calm themselves down. It's not unlike feeling nervous at a meeting or party, but after a few introductions and handshakes, you "get" your feet back under you. My dog Beverly and Chance are best pals. They always start their play with a whiff. It's just like seeing an old friend at the class reunion. You shake hands to break the ice, and pretty soon you're on with the conversation. Have a good dog story to share? Post it here and include a photo if you have one.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Presidents and their Dogs

Dogs have been a part of the White House for as long as the presidents. It's a part of the presidents' personalities and the image of looking presidential. We can go all the way back to President Washington. He had as many as 30 pets and was a breeder. Below is an American Foxhound.

Courtesy: Mt. Vernon Ladies' Association.

Fast forward to the sixties and John Kennedy. JFK is largely credited with creating the wicked cool photo op of having his dog run out to greet him when his helicopter landed on the South Lawn. Whether at the White House, or home at Hyannis Port, a bevy of dogs was always a part of the Kennedy clan.

Courtesy: Time Life Pictures: Corbis

Some presidents had to be introduced to the concept of a dog, including Presidents Clinton and Obama. Mr. Clinton started with Socks the Cat and later saw the light. In came Buddy the Chocolate Lab. Buddy didn't last long because he liked to chase cars.

Courtesy: Barbara Kinney/The White House

The Obamas were petless upon arrival to the White House, largely because of the president's notorious allergies. So they got an uber allergy-friendly Portuguese Water Dog named Bo.

Bo with a lei. Courtesy: the White House

If it's good enough for a president, it's probably good enough for us. Or, maybe the other way around. It's a numbers game really with 38-million American households owning a dog. President Truman famously said, "Want a friend in Wasington? Get a dog."

That applies elsewhere too. Have a response to the story? Include it here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Blind Dogs, A Sight to See

I’m really annoyed with myself. I brought my dog Beverly to the dog park the other day and failed to bring my camera. That’s always a mistake because you never know who you’re going to bump into, and what you’re going to see.
Today I saw a blind dog. Julie, a white standard poodle, lost her eyesight about two years ago. Julie stands about hip high and has a good poodle poof on top of her head.

Beverly approached Julie low and submissive. Julie couldn’t see it, but I’m sure she could sense a dog was coming with her ears and nose. Beverly gave Julie a good sniff under her tail, a gentle body bump, and pretty soon Julie was romping with her new friend. “It’s been so long since she’s romped with anyone,” her owner said. “Your dog must have really made her feel comfortable.”

Beverly, friend to all dogs

Do me a favor. Close your eyes and picture what you just read. You just got inside Julie’s head, adding color and pictures to darkness.

It was great to see the dogs at play. I don’t know if Bev knew her poodle pal was blind, but somehow she gave off that special dog vibe and smell that let Julie know what she couldn’t see was nothing to fear.

Years ago my college coach told me a story about a blind dog that I’ve never forgotten. He had a Bulldog that went blind. Coach’s family found out when they changed the furniture. The dog started bumping into things. They took the dog to the vet who concluded the dog went blind years ago. The only reasonable conclusion was the Bulldog had the house, the way outside and the backyard memorized until the furniture change and—Doink!

Why do I tell this? I don’t know. I just thought that it was a neat story. Sometimes neat stories find me and remind me of other ones from the past. So I share. Have a cool story to share of your own? Leave it below, and include a picture if you have one.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Funny Dog Names

Pretty Piggy

Sometimes a dog just looks the part of its name. Or, it can be completely the opposite. Let me give you a few examples. I had a friend whose father raised German Shepherds. His family’s last dog’s name was Killer. From what Larry tells me, the dog was pretty true to his name. With that in mind, and knowing how German Shepherds are sometimes perceived, I decided to go the other way.

I gave my German Shepherds the most girly girly names I could. Have you ever been afraid of anyone named Tiffany? “You can’t name a German Shepherd Tiffany ,” my neighbor Anne Crossman chided years ago. “You have to give them a strong name like Sasha, or Duchess.”

I followed Tiffany up with Beverly. It’s the same principle, and for the most part it works.

Tiffany (left) and Beverly

The other day I saw a Bulldog at my daughters’ school. I love Bulldogs. They’re so ugly that they’re cute. And they’re cuddly.

At the top of the page is a princess named Piggy. Now that may sound unkind, but there’s a story behind it that makes total sense. When her owner got her as a puppy she was already named,
Cleopatra. Cleopatra seemed a bit much. Cleo wasn’t much better. In their opinion she didn’t look like her name. So they went with something that fit the ear as much as it did the eye. “She just made a lot of snorting sounds, you know, like a pig. That’s why we named her Piggy,” the owner said.

That makes total sense. Do you agree, or disagree?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dogs on Loan

I was walking my children to school the other day in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and saw a familiar Golden Retriever, or so I thought. “Oh hi Maryland,” I said while bending down to stroke her soft head.

“It’s not Maryland,” the dog walker said, “It’s Duchess.”

“Where is Maryland?” I asked, knowing the woman had another Golden Retriever by that name.

“She’s having puppies and is with the breeder. I’m borrowing Duchess, one of her other dogs.”

I like that idea, it gives the dog on loan some new scenery, and the temporarily dog-less people fresh company. It reminds me of when we lived in Fresno, California and used to loan our German Shepherd, Tiffany, to our neighbors. Their dad would go away on business and Tiffany would go over and spend a couple of days with them. Everyone was happy. Tiffany enjoyed the neighbors and their fussing over her. They enjoyed her companionship and protection. We'd rake the carpets while she was gone, and we enjoyed the chance of getting away while not having to worry about rushing home to let out the dog.

Samantha, Kevin and Tiffany, 2004

Our sharing of Tiffany was just a repeat of what our neighbors, the Reutemanns, did for us 25 years earlier in suburban Philadelphia. We were between dogs. The Reutemanns said we could have their copper-colored Lab mix over whenever we wanted her. Susie would stay for hours. When it was time to go home, we open the back door, Susie would cross the driveway, and bark at her backdoor until she was let inside. It was great to return the favor to someone else all those years later.

Susie on loan with Bob (back), Chris (left) & Kevin Walsh. Meadowbrook, PA 1973

So loaner dogs works in more ways than one. If you have a shared dog story, share it here. And post a picture.