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. 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
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
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.