“What’s in a name…”

By Michel Gregory

woody the rescue golden retriever relaxing in his new home.Choosing just the right name is part of the fun of adopting a rescue golden retriever. So when we learned we were chosen to adopt Woody (Woodrow) last August, my husband George and I started making lists based on our brief meet-and-greet with him.

Unfortunately, when we regrouped to compare our respective lists, we found no common ground. So after an agonizing hour trying to negotiate, I grudgingly agreed to try the name “Roger” from George’s list.

The next day, we eagerly met Jack Delaini at Mary S. Young Park to pick up Woody (AKA Roger) and whisked him away to his new home. In less than 24 hours, we realized he just wasn’t a Roger and really did seem like a Woody.

Besides feeling like a fitting name,  “Woody” seemed to be the only English word our China dog seemed to recognize. He stared blankly at “sit,” “stay” and “down” so we decided not to confuse him with a name change.

In the seven months since Woody joined our family, his English vocabulary hasn’t expanded much, but the place he holds in our hearts – and on the couch and bed – grows daily.

For the first few weeks, he refused to join me on the couch or the bed. No amount of coaxing would lure him up to the comfort of upholstery. I was devastated. Then one day, out of the blue, he hopped up next to me and rested his head in my lap. It’s been bliss every since. He still prefers to sleep in his own cozy bed, but most mornings he’ll join me for a cuddle after George gets up.

woody is a rescue golden retrieverAfter couches, beds and walk time, Woody’s favorite place is the kitchen when I’m cooking. He studies my every move so intently, that I’m convinced he could whip up an omelet or fettuccine Alfredo if he had opposable thumbs and a step-stool. George thinks he’s just waiting for scraps to drop, but I know he’s actually preparing for Iron Chef Canine Edition. When Woody makes the cut, I’ll be there to cheer him on!

Cheering him on is the least I can do for all the moments he makes me laugh. His enthusiasm for stuffed toys is boundless, whether he’s tossing a long-eared rabbit in the air or gleefully chomping on the squeaker in his penguin. And Air Bud has nothing on Woody, who goes a bit nutso at the sound of a basketball bouncing. One day at our neighborhood schoolyard, he dashed onto the court and leapt up to catch a bouncing ball between his paws. We now take him to the court regularly to shoot hoops.

Our sweet, silly Woody – also known as Woodster, Woodmeister and just plain Wood – was never a Roger. But he will always be the golden heart of our family.

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