An account of early notable dogs at Comfort Island has been covered previously, but in 1995 Coty, Tori and Kira mounted a campaign to acquire a family dog. They teamed up against me after an island neighbor began selling a litter of Yellow Labrador puppies. I held out while they sold most of the puppies, but when the owners offered to give us one late in the season, the pro-dog crusade picked up steam with all the classic rhetoric, “Please Daddy, pretty please. We’ll take care of it. We’ll feed it and take it for walks. We’ll brush him and give him baths. You’ll see you won’t have to do a thing.”
The team was relentless and finally I said, “Okay.” Because I’d made and broken the same promises when I was a kid, I had no doubt that it wouldn’t be long before the responsibilities would be Kira’s and mine.
Unfortunately, I never had a chance to see if my children would live up to their promises because our new dog had ingested some twine before we owned him, and a few weeks later we were forced to put little “Sunny” to sleep. It was a very sad experience for the whole family, and we were all in agreement that we’d have to replace Sunny with one of his relatives.
We contacted the appropriate breeder in Wisconsin, and several weeks later “Woody” arrived at the Asheville air terminal where I picked him up. He was only eight weeks old and groggy from being sedated for the flight when I aired him on the grass adjacent to the terminal. I thought to myself, “What a calm and mellow puppy.” I have seldom been more wrong in my initial assessment of any critter before or since.
It turned out that we had just become the dumbfounded owners of the most energetic dog I ever owned. I theorized that he could run the Iditarod Dogsled Race all by himself without the usual fifteen teammates to help pull.
We called him “Woody, the wonder dog” because we wondered why we got him. Woody wasn’t mean and he didn’t bite, he was simply enthusiastic. It wasn’t really Woody’s fault that he was so hard to control. He was bred to be a hunting dog, and we simply didn’t have a year-round facility to provide him with the level of exercise he needed.
Searching for some relief from this canine dynamo, we took him to obedience school.
The class instructor was still gaining experience, and I have a vivid memory of the evening when she said, “Tonight is our off...