Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What the Dog Smelled

Outside Hockey Rink, Wellesley, MA

I've always been fascinated with smell.  I'm not alone.  Look at the millions of people who wear perfume and cologne.  Smells touch more than our noses, they put imprints on our memory.  If a woman walks by wearing Tea Rose, it reminds me of my mother.  If someone is wearing Polo for Men, Mike D instantly flashes into my mind.  You could smell Mike down the hall in high school.  He's since toned it down.  When I walk into the Boston Garden for Bruins games, I'm overwhelmed by the smell of Dunkin Donuts Coffee brewing inside of North Station.  

The picture above sparks so many memories.  The dog is on a stoop outside of the Babson Skating Center in Wellesley, MA.  Hockey practice had just finished and several players were hanging out on the stoop with their oversized bags slung over their shoulders.  The dog was in smell heaven even though the players stunk to high heaven.  I know this because I play the game and cover the Boston Bruins for a living.  Most locker rooms smell like sweaty athletes, whatever that means.  But there's no smell like a hockey locker room--and nothing smells worse than the inside of hockey gloves.  Hours after you play, shower and scrub, hockey is still on your hands.  And as we know dogs will bury their noses in just about anything.


Were it not for noses, Follow the Dog Home would not have been the book that it eventually became.  Beverly's nose (seen above) led us back to the place where our journey with family dogs started 70 years earlier.  Dee Dee's nose led her to a skunk spraying which fouled the noses of family members, readers and especially Dee Dee (seen below watching over family).  The point is where there are smells, there are tells; stories to be told--whether it's a book, or another dog on a stoop somewhere else.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

If Not For a Dog's Nose

Follow Dog Home coauthor Samantha Walsh with Beverly

Three years ago this week, on the first Saturday of August, Beverly led us back to the exact place where our journey with dogs began.  Were it not for her nose, who knows if we have all that we do today?  By that I mean a critically acclaimed book, a Facebook page with nearly 8,000 fans, and the validation of the family dog as something greater than the family pet.

To bring you up to speed:  I moved my family to Wellesley, Massachusetts in August 2009.  I took my German Shepherd, Beverly, for a walk down Atwood Street, and she started sniffing around a particular property.  Prior to our arrival in town we'd never been to Wellesley, nor did we know anyone who had lived there.  Return trips to Atwood Street yielded greater curiosity from Beverly's nose, and it piqued my curiosity too.  It turns out the house in particular was briefly my Dad's childhood home.  The discovery of an photo confirmed it.  Dad never knew he lived there.  Neither did we.  Beverly might have known, but who can say for sure?

Walshes return to Atwood Street, 2011.  Left to right: Beverly (dog), Kevin, Bob, Amanda, Jean and Samantha. Annie is the Corgi on Bob and Jean's laps.

Walshes at Atwood Street, 1941.  (Foreground) Dee Dee.  Left to right (back): Elizabeth and Marie Beth (Walsh) Hall.  Elizabeth is holding Bob, Marie Beth is holding Bob's twin, Dick.  Bob is sitting on the exact same spot 70 years apart. 

We went back to the homestead with the blessing of the homeowner, and plunked Dad down on the  front stoop.  We really had come full circle to the place where it all started some 70 years ago.  Dad has seen five wars, and raised 17 dogs with his children and his children's children.  So much has changed.  But one thing never did--a dog's place in the family.  It is the one and only constant in life that we know.  And we wouldn't want it any other way.