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Love and Loss

Most Bay Woof readers have loved and lost a dog. My beloved Annapurna, a golden retriever, outlived her nine littermates and mom, reaching the ripe old age of 12 before dying peacefully in her sleep, possibly from stomach cancer.

I had to make the call for Annie, my next doggy love, a smooth-coat collie whose horribly bone-spurred elbow made getting around a challenge as she aged. She was 15 years old, maybe older, and a 35-pound shell of her formerly 53-pound robust self when she died.

When contributor James Gage told me about Red the Dog, I wanted to share this heroic dog’s story with Bay Woof readers. Yes, it’s a sad tale of the disappearance of Red’s original homeless owner and the dog’s ultimate demise, but it’s uplifting, too. Gage’s yarn follows Red, the extremely overweight street dog, into the life of a caring, compassionate Piedmont artist and teacher, Suzie Skugstad. She took in Red, got him vet care, nursed him back to health, and then introduced the handsome redhead to her fifth-grade students and her neighbors while she fell hard for him. He was a huge hit with everyone he met and even had Instagram followers.

Red made her life, as well as the lives of those he touched, fuller. That’s what dogs do — they enhance our lives. When we lose one, it hurts like hell, but eventually, like Skugstad, we fall for another one and then another and love them as much as the ones we have lost. I hope Red’s story touches your heart like it did mine.

Bay Woof has other interesting dog tales, too, for you this month. The Pooch Coach, Beverly Ulbrich, weighs in on “Second Dog Syndrome,” and offers advice on how to make sure a later canine addition to the family can successfully fit in. And there’s coverage of the third annual Dog Surf Championship, “Surfing With Dogs: What a Blast,” thanks to Paws & Claws co-owner Ruth Villasenor who headed out to the competition and reported in.

In other Bay Woof news, Ask Dr. Dog talks weight control, Kelly Gorman Dunbar has thoughts about spooky behavior, The Caninologist ponders dog metaphors, and Good Dog! guest columnist Wailani Sung explains what animal behaviorists and dog behaviorists do. It’s all good stuff, so enjoy and bark back with some feedback.