It’s time you met Winston

Author: Barrett Rainey

I’ve never understood people who don’t like dogs. As for the other group … the people who don’t like people … well, I confess I sometimes find myself among them.

But dogs? DOGS? Never!

One of my very closest and most highly respected friends started out as a dog. Winston. Now, he’s just a small, hairy, loving “person” who has to be let out several times a day to do chores. Like me.

Being a human seems to be his judgment, too. He may be a 17-pound Rat Terrier by birth. But in his mind, he’s a 6-foot person who just happens to be black, brown and white, has four legs and whose ears may be a bit larger than the rest of us. Those are the only differences.

Now I realize someone talking about his dog is about as pleasant for most folks as the guy who digs out a wallet full of pictures of the grandkids. Well, if you’re one of those people, stop reading.

I’ve never liked Winston’s breed name. Rat Terrier. It doesn’t conjure up the intelligent, mild-mannered, extremely smart animal he is. The name comes from the 1200’s in Europe when a small dog was needed to hunt vermin in the castle but it also had to be docile enough to sit in someone’s lap at court. Dogs were a fixture at court.

One of the things about the breed that surprises me is how many people say upon meeting Winston “I used to have a dog just like that.” In the 20’s and 30’s, they were very popular. In fact, the dog on the old RCA record label was an R-T. They’re coming back now.

In all my years of travel and in all my various careers, I’ve thought of myself as a good judge of people. But my skill in that department is dwarfed by my little friend. He is never fooled. Never!

He also knows just what to do and “say” in his contacts with others. I never appreciated how smart he was in that area until shortly before my mother’s death a couple of years ago.

He could walk the halls of the nursing facility without a leash, staying within a couple feet of me. Some people he’d ignore. Others he would deliberately walk up to, offering himself for petting. Somehow he knew which people wanted the attention AND the ones that didn’t. He was never wrong.

When he came to Mom’s room, he knew immediately what to do. And not do. An elderly woman in bed most of the time, she had aches, pains and tender spots in various parts of her body. Winston knew that.

Without being able to see up on the bed, he would gingerly leap to a corner near the foot where no part of her body would be. Then he’d walk the edge of the bed to a spot just above her hip and curl up.
And stay there.

He’s a “person” who loves to travel, too. Especially in the motor home with the large, flat dash up front. Mom made him a small quilt several years ago just for that spot. Curled up on the quilt with a window to life eight feet wide about five feet above the ground is his Heaven.

His eating likes and dislikes are decidedly human, too. While we feed him a good dog food and limit treats, we do often allow plate licking when meals are over. He’s not a fussy eater. He dislikes only grapes. Maybe celery. All other people food will do nicely, thank you.

Winston’s animal relationships are mostly excellent. Except with Clementine. She’s our Calico indoor cat. The best that can be said is they tolerate each other. Sort of like a marriage gone wrong but you’re staying together for the sake of the kids.

Winston, of course, sleeps at the foot of the bed on his own little blanket. Except when Barb is out of town and then he’s up on her empty pillow. While she and he have a good rapport, I’d hate to have to put them head-to-head in the “who owns the pillow test.”

Smart, sensitive, fun to be around, well-groomed, good traveler, doesn’t snore, good communicator. I spent years looking for a wife like that. Then along came Winston. Who knew?

Will Rogers was a dog lover. One of his best observations was “If dogs aren’t allowed in Heaven, I don’t want to go there. I want to go where the dogs are.”


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