The Wonder Dog Bakery
I still remember the day we brought her home, all ears and nose. She looked like a little red bobble head. She was an anniversary present bought to replace Sadie, my beloved lab-mix. She had big shoes to fill. Her name was Pink. We named her, Majestic Heit’s Wiccan Willo. Willo because there was not enough room on the paperwork for the last “w”. We nicknamed her “Red”.
She woke only once that first night. She never whimpered or whined for her mother or littermates. She moved in, made herself at home and proceeded to take over. We never had a chance.
The first months with her were a challenge to say the least. Vizslas are an active breed and Willo was no exception. She was also stubborn. I have never seen a dog that could drop its weight and back out of a Halti and collar quite like her. She quickly learned to climb the baby gate and escape. We would leave her in the bathroom when we left in the morning and find her in the kitchen with the big dogs when we got home at night. Willo went where Willo pleased. She ate our leather living room set and we smiled. She dug up the irrigation system and we joyfully covered it back up. She chewed through the cord of the vacuum and we bought a new one. She was a little red devil.
And she was an angel. In the evenings, she would tear around the house full of puppy energy, but when bedtime arrived I would sit on the floor (we had a strict no dogs on the furniture rule) and she would curl up in my lap to have her ears scratched. She followed us wherever we went. She played chase with the children in the neighborhood and earned a place in their hearts as Willo, The Wonder Dog.
As she grew out of her puppy years she retained her energy and vitality. She spent countless hours “hunting” in the yard. There wasn’t a mouse, lizard or grasshopper that escaped her talented nose. I can still see her pointing at a bush in the yard and looking back to the house for her “hunter” to come retrieve her quarry. She loved her walks. Whether it be a quick trot around the block or a long creek side hike, Willo was always keen to don her leash. At night she would lay in the recliner or on the couch (the no dogs on the furniture rule having long since been abandoned) next to her “daddy” for her nightly ear scratching.
She was a needy dog, constantly wanting to be petted, played with, trained or treated. And she was manipulative. Like any small child she knew which parent was most likely to give her the answer she desired. “Mommy” was useful for activities involving training and discipline. “Daddy” was good for affection, playing and treats.
She was kind and cruel. When our 2 Greyhounds had to be put down within a few weeks of each other, Willo hopped up on the couch and licked my face as if to say, “It’s okay. I’m still here.” And she was right, it was okay. When we got her another Greyhound companion she beat, badgered and barked him into submission. Once he was terrified of her, now he is lost without her.
She had her own unique habits and routines. She never failed to greet us at the door with a toy when we returned home. In the morning when she was let out of her crate she would pull out the blanket and proudly trot down the hallway with it in her mouth. She loved to play in the pool, but only if someone was splashing her in the face. She pointed grasshoppers and ran past quail without every noticing they were there. And, she licked. ALOT. She had no reservations about pinning you down and licking you until you were half out of your mind with giggles.
She was a striking dog with a soft rust-colored coat, warm amber eyes and the lean lithe build of an athlete. Everyone who saw Willo said she was beautiful. She pranced and posed like a show dog. She knew she was special.
When I decided to start a dog biscuit business it was only natural that Willo be our spokes dog and CEC, Chief Executive Canine. She excelled at her job. She tolerated countless ridiculous costumes for marketing and website photos, patiently missed walks and play sessions to ensure biscuits orders were filled and although she hated it, made the occasional public appearance without any drama or fuss. She licked crumbs from the floor and taste tested every batch of treats all in the name of quality control. She was the best boss you could ever have.
Even as she aged and became ill her liveliness continued. She underwent innumerable tests, shots and surgeries and continued to hunt and point. She took a myriad of pills and potions and still brought a greeting toy to the door every night. The prednisone took her hair, her physique, her bladder and eventually her liver and her life but, it could never, never take her spirit.
I wasn’t there when she passed. I never got to say “good-bye” and I think I will always regret that I wasn’t there when she needed me.
But, I will forever remember her amber eyes always sparkling, her tail always wagging and her tongue always ready to give you a loving lick (or 2 or 3).
She came into our lives with big shoes to fill and she ripped up those shoes and left an even bigger pair. There will never be another dog with feet quite that big.