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Please read Part I first: http://justlabradors.com/forum/showthread.php?83-PoorBess-the-Wonder-Dog-Part-I

Prequel to: Poor Bess the Wonder Dog

Why Bess came in our lives --.

I came to get my first Lab this way:

My fiancée, Charlotte, and I both worked at Topeka State Hospital in the 1960s. One hot summer evening, we were just leaving the employees' dining room after eating supper. On our way to the car, a medium-large black dog -- collarless, somewhat dirty -- was sitting by the sidewalk, smiling and wagging his tail at anyone who passed by.

Char and I stopped and petted him and he responded. I remember saying to Char, "Don't get too friendly with him -- we sure don't need a dog complicating our lives." We had a lot of stuff going on -- my analysis and second job to help pay for it, sailboat racing and regattas, and lots of other stuff.

As we walked to the car the black dog followed. The parking lot was a huge widening of the road that ran behind the hospital ward buildings for about a half mile. At 6:30, it was almost deserted. I thought 'if I drive fast, he'll stop following us.' We didn't want to delay him from finding his way home. Char's window was down and the black dog was on her side.

"Where is he?" I asked.

"Right beside the car," Char said.

I sped up to about 30 mph and asked again; Char gave the same answer.

By that time, we'd run out of hospital grounds and had to slow down for several blocks of residential streets.

The black dog ran beside us all the way home, about five blocks west.

For a few minutes we were puzzled about what to do now with a lost dog. Before we could decide, a "Take Cover" siren sounded the warning of a potential tornado in our area. That trumped any decision and we took the black dog with us to the basement. He was the center of our attention -- and we of his -- and we three cuddled and schmoozed shamelessly. We decided to call him "Sam."

Sam was dirty, a bit stinky, and lean. We were in the cellar for about an hour or two and by the time we came up, we'd already started strongly bonding with Sam. He was a noble, affectionate, caring dog.

When the "All Clear" sounded, Char went to get some dog food while I gave Sam a bath in the tub. It obviously was not something he'd choose for himself but, since he saw it was important to me, he submitted to it with great regal dignity.

To both Char and me, it soon seemed that never had a dog and people so completely bonded, trusted, and understood each other. We put "found dog" ads in our Topeka paper, at first wanting to restore him to his owners but, in a bit, hoping nobody would call. But someone did after a couple weeks.

Sam came from a family only about 8 blocks south. He was a Lab-Pointer mix and had a large fenced backyard that he shared with a couple of other hunting dogs. Sam had dug his way out under the fence and had been lost maybe 5 days before we'd found each other.

Char and I missed Sam terribly. We called the owners after a week and asked to buy him. Money was really tight then -- but we offered $100. They didn't want to sell. $150? "No."

We waited another week and couldn't stand it any longer. We called and asked, could we come and visit Sam? They said yes, so we arranged an evening to come by.

Char and I perhaps expected Sam would fall on us with hugs and kisses, overjoyed to see us again. Certainly we wanted to act that way with Sam. When we came in the back yard, Sam briefly interrupted his play with his two dog friends, came over and nuzzled us a bit but it wasn't the emotional reunion we half wanted (but also half dreaded since we'd have to leave Sam there). We realized we were important to Sam -- but not any more than any of his other people or his dog friends were.

Charlotte and I were both let down -- and relieved. Sam was well cared for and happy and he wasn't pining away for us as we'd been for him.

We got books on dogs from the library and found that the core of our "once in a lifetime feeling" with Sam was probably something mostly due to Sam's Lab heritage. Maybe we'd gotten only a diluted dose of those feelings with Sam since he was a Lab-Pointer mix? So Char and I started looking for a Lab breeder with puppies. And reading up on training and puppy needs.

After several months, Sam's owners called us and asked if we wanted to buy him. We said "No" because by then we'd already decided to buy a pure Lab puppy.

We bought "Bess" from Barbara Beers-Hogan's "Could Be" kennel in Olathe, KS, in December, 1967. Little Bess slept the whole trip home, swaddled in a bath towel on Charlotte's lap.

So -- for bringing Labs into our lives -- thank you, Sam.

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I really enjoyed reading about Bess. She was a very special girl and I have to say she and Puff were and are, very lucky to have you for their Dad. I am glad you continue to put all of those sweet memories into words. I hope you are keeping them - they would make a wonderful book. You have a very special way with words. Be blessed and thanks for sharing with us.
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