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January 16, 2017

A Welcome House Guest

Winter in Chicago is a lonely season. Bundled against the elements, people brave the outdoors only when necessary. The lakefront, vibrant in the warmer months, is desolate in deep winter.  For Penny and me, this year's solitude is especially pronounced. She no longer shares warmth with Eko on the couch, and there's often no other dogs at the beach for her to play with.  I can do a lot for Penny, but I can't offer her the companionship that another dog can.
Winter in Chicago is a lonely season. Bundled against the elements, people brave the outdoors only when necessary. The lakefront, vibrant in the warmer months, is desolate in deep winter.  For Penny and me, this year’s solitude is especially pronounced. She no longer shares warmth with Eko on the couch, and there’s often no other dogs at the beach for her to play with.  I can do a lot for Penny, but I can’t offer her the companionship that another dog can. So I was happy to help when our friends needed someone to watch their pup while they went on their honeymoon. Losing Eko left a big hole in Penny’s life, and if you have a big hole to fill,  our pal Leo the Bernese Mountain Dog (emphasis on mountain) is the right guy for the job. We call Leo our house guest not because we have a house, but because he’s the size of one. This massive, loveable lug moved in on Thursday and will be staying with us through the week. Even in the few days he’s been here Leo has already helped stave off our winter isolation. When I leave the apartment Penny has someone to hang out with, and there’s always another dog to play with at the beach. Even the most ferocious of winter weather doesn’t deter this friendly beast. And best of all, big friends are perfect for big battles. Penny gets a real kick out of stalking her mammoth pal. And Leo good-naturedly plays along. The rest of the city may shiver and hide, but these two revel in the storm. To borrow from Camus, Leo reminds us that while we are in in the depths of winter, within us there lies an invincible summer. Sometimes you just need a friend to help you find it. There’s no replacing Eko, and as strange as it sounds, that’s a good thing.  Because instead of trying to replace what we’ve lost, we can instead spend our days enjoying what (and who!) we find along the way.  

Comments for A Welcome House Guest

  1. Victoria Coleman says:

    Love Leo – he is a perfect match for playing with Penny -good for you guys having such a fun house guest

  2. Jess says:

    Leo is one good looking doggie.

  3. Lori Gallo says:

    Thank you Will for providing the best care to our grand dog! We know he is having as good a time as his owners are! You, on the other hand, will surely need a vacation after this. Week+ adventure!

  4. Connie Taylor says:

    Bet Doc is glad Penny has Leo to pal around with this week, gives him a bit of a reprieve after your long road trip earlier ! Looks like it will be a “honeymoon” for Penny too! Is Leo a snuggler like Penny? Definitely not a blanket hog with his long fur coat! Enjoy the new mayhem this week!!

  5. fran welch says:

    This proves that u can never replace our dear EKO but he would want Penny to have another brother to snuggle with. Like u said, we humans can offer alot but a nother pup is something we cant be.
    Love to u all.

  6. meANXIETYme says:

    Great pictures of Penny and Leo, love them so much! I’m glad you guys are getting a fun house guest, but I bet you’re not used to all that fur! LOL You’ll be finding tumbleweeds for weeks in your apartment! But he’s a beauty of a dog and I’m happy to hear he’s giving Penny lots of play-time.

  7. KarenS says:

    Those wonderful gentle giants. They can be a ridgie’s best friend!

    So true that we never look for a replacement for our lost companions, it’s not fair for any dog, or human, to be compared with a lost soul. They just take us on that continuous journey through life. To explore even the same places through different eyes.

    Love that Penny has a “big friend”.

  8. Is that the same Leo that was a teeny tiny pup a while back? OMG he is soooo handsome! So glad Penny will have a BIG and FURRY playmate to have fun with!!!! Sooo adorable!

  9. Ellen Quilty says:

    How fun to have such a nice houseguest .Nikki has several Berner pals and they love to wrestle.She can easily outrun them but she loves to roll around with them on the grass.Rolling around with all that nice soft fur must feel nice to a dog who has so little of it like Nikki.Enjoy your time with your mountainous friend.

  10. Emmadog says:

    Did Leo call Penny a wimp? Just wondering since she isn’t wearing her coat, LOL! No one can ever be replaced, but others find a way to fill other parts of our hearts which also help us heal from out losses!

  11. Deborah Schmidt says:

    Penny would make a great big sister. After all she learned from the best. I am sure Eko would approve. Something to think about. If John is not going to breed you have one of the best in Chicago. Barbara Sawyer Brown. My pup Rusty came from her. He will be two the end of this month. Wonderful boy. Think about it. I am a few years older than you and I have had eight RR. Rescue is also an option. I have had three rescues. You will never be able to replace Eko. But Penny would be ecstatic. Take care.

  12. Like Dr. Seuss once said: Kid, you’ll move mountains… or a bernese mountain dog ;o)

  13. coastingnz says:

    Leo is adorable and I can see why Penny adores him! So lovely for you all to have each other and share the friendship. Enjoy your week.

  14. Leo really is a big lug, but one with a ready smile and pounce for Ms. Mayhem. Enjoy his visit, the two of you.

  15. What blissful pictures. Hope this becomes a regular occurrence.

  16. Jo Rhodes says:

    Glad you’re back! We were beginning to worry about you. I so happy to see Leo keeping your girl busy. Tell your friends to bring him more often. I love the look on Leo’s face when Penny was stalking him…,”What’s she up to?? I got you!!”
    Stay warm and have fun, Jo, Sam and Dean

  17. Yes indeed……that idea is hard to grasp when the grief crowds it out but once you let up a bit on the intense sadness you begin to look for new things to enjoy in your life…….Penny looks mighty happy to have a cuddle buddy/beach bum friend!


  18. Dashlilly says:

    Love that line from Camus. Thanks for reminding me of it! What kind of bath did you have to give Leo after the sand?? I BET Penny was thrilled with her mountainous buddy. Hooray for big dogs!

  19. Luckylizz says:

    Hi Will,

    Our RR grew up with the Bernese Mountain Dog of my parents. They’re the best friend anyone can have! And a pretty nice take-along rug 😉
    It’s so good to read the smile again in your stories…


  20. Those two look like a good match. Leo’s parents are lucky. Reliable, fun, crazy, dogsitters are hard to find.

  21. I’m so happy you have a house guest for the week. What a sweetheart of a dog. Is that Penny under the blankets and cushions? She looks like a puppy under there.

  22. Leo is gorgeous! He looks like the perfect house guest for the winter time 🙂 Love the photos of the two of them!

  23. The photos of the two of them playing put a huge smile on my face! I’m so glad that Penny has a friend, even if it is for just a week.

  24. Oh what fun! Great pictures!

  25. Karen Boone says:

    So great to see a post from you especially with Penny having a wonderful play date. Someday, when you’re ready, she will need a brother or sister!

  26. DZ Dogs says:

    He looks like a ton of fun to play with!

  27. nandaispanda says:

    Brilliant read and amazing photos. 🙂 Especially that photo of Penny on the couch, reminds me of my Ridgeback, haha.

  28. cathwhistler says:

    That last photo is amazing… kind of camera did you use, and settings? Happy that Penny has a Pal! <3

  29. V K Browne says:

    What a lovely story of friendship. My friend has a Bernese Mountain Dog called Monty. When he stays with us he becomes part of the family, with our other 3 dogs. This includes taking over our bed!

  30. These two had such a great time together. Always fun to add another pup to the mix to keep things interesting.

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