I adopted Rowdy from the Blair Animal Shelter in February 1997. Blair did not have a designed animal shelter. Dogs were housed in a building that was part of the former sewage treatment plant complex — same location as the current Jeanette Hunt Animal Shelter building. The building was dark and poorly lit.
This big, brindle-colored dog was the only one in there. I had not seen a brindle-colored dog before, and found him a very good-looking dog. He seemed friendly enough and was just the size I was looking for.
At that time, I was driving an SUV, so the staff worker and I put this dog in the back and connected his cloth leash to a hook in the large open back area of the SUV. To my surprise, in the less than two minutes it took to drive from the plant to my house, this dog had chewed through the cloth leash.
I knew then I was going to have my hands full and this new member of my family was going to be a challenge. There could only be one appropriate name for him: Rowdy.
Rowdy loved exercise. And, fortunately, for both of us, I was in the "running stage" of my life. Rowdy was a puller, and he led me on our runs. Numerous people across town, when they saw us running, would yell out, "Who's running whom?"
One weekend, I decided it was time to see if I could wear Rowdy out. So, on Saturday we went hiking for over six miles in Omaha. The next day, we went another six miles. On Monday, as I started down 16th Street on an early morning walk, Rowdy stopped and just laid down on the sidewalk. I had done it. Rowdy had had enough. I smiled and we walked back to the house — victorious human.
However, Rowdy never tired again. Yes, I had "won" the battle, but clearly Rowdy had won the war.
Rowdy passed away just before Christmas 2006. We had nine wonderful, exercise-filled years together.
Shortly after Rowdy died, my friend Barb Brazelton and I went to the Dodge County Animal Shelter to look for a dog. Barb knew I was still grieving and she knew I needed to get a four-legged companion back into my single lifestyle. The Blair shelter had no dogs at that time.
The first dog I saw was a medium-sized black lab/healer mix. Just the kind and size I was looking for. He was very friendly, loving, with tail wagging the whole time. In talking with the kennel helper, she explained that this lab mix had been picked up with another dog and took me to see that dog around the corner at the kennel. Here was a somewhat larger black/white lab mix. For some reason, I was somewhat intimidated by this dog. The kennel helper explained that the two dogs were picked up together, running loose in Fremont. They had different owners, and when contacted by the shelter staff, neither owner wanted the dogs back.
Up to this point in my life, I had always been a "one-dog man." I had never entertained the thought of having two dogs.
The kennel assistant let me take both of them outside to the play area. The black lab/healer was definitely a "fetch dog." The black and white dog not so much. It was obvious in their interaction with each other that they were buddies.
I committed to taking both of them home after I returned from a personal trip. I had over a week to think about the change in my life with two dogs. I never wavered as it seemed cruel to me to separate the two of them.
I left Fremont with two dogs. I don't recall if they had shelter names, but I somehow came up with Alfie (all black) and Ralphie (black/white). They have been together ever since. I named them that figuring that when I would call for one, their names being so similar, both would respond. That "trick" sometimes worked, but definitely not all the time.
Please support The Friends of the Jeanette Hunt Blair Animal Shelter in Blair at their annual fundraising dinner, the Bow Wow Meow Luau (formerly SPAYghetti dinner) from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at South Creek Wedding and Events Center, 715 South St., Blair. Tickets can be purchased at the shelter, 147 S. 4th St., Blair, or online at blairanimalshelter.org.
Doug Cook is a member of the Friends of the Jeanette Hunt Animal Shelter Board of Directors.