by Irene Nicolai
(Los Angeles, CA)
I wasn't even looking for a dog when I reluctantly went along with a friend to a pet adoption fair in Sherman Oaks, CA. I expected to see a lot of scruffy little mutts. To my surprise most of the hundreds of dogs there were gorgeous pure-breds who were knocking themselves out trying to attract potential parents. I was attracted to a couple of pretty little Cocker Spaniels and was starting to break down to my friends urging to go for it.
That's when I noticed a gray middle sized scruffy looking dog a little away from all the activity in a cage with another little dog. He simply stood there watching the activity of the lively dogs and the humans passing by. Everyone ignored him. When I came near him he was aloof and continued just watching. I noticed a tag on him with the number three. I asked what that was and was told that he had three days left on him. No one wanted him because he was older and didn't seem to want to please anyone. I, however, saw him as wise and dignified and took him home.
At first I thought that I made a big mistake. For one thing, he mistook my little cat for potential lunch and kept attacking her. But he was smart enough to understand it when I told him that she was off bounds and soon left her alone. He was also beautifully trained. He not only knew basic commands but, among other things, kept a polite distance when I was filling his bowl without approaching until I said "OK."
He was a terrific watch dog which was a comfort to me as I am an older woman living alone. High demeanor was always that of a gentleman. I considered changing his name to Cary Grant, but he wouldn't have it. In time he became attached to me and I to him. He and the kitty became friends and are sleeping together on my bed this very minute.
The biggest surprise though, was when I submitted him as a "Therapy" dog to a local hospital. He had clearly been trained for this already... or he is a genius... and took to his job like a duck to water. For one thing, he does not lick the patients and seems to relish the many petting hands of children and adults in various stages of illness and recovery. His calm, patient and dignified personality is loved by both patients and hospital staff and everyone who meets him tells him how gorgeous he is (too, too true).
I've had other dogs in my younger life but there has never felt the closeness there is with this loving and devoted little guy, whose name, of course, continues to stay Winston.