Twenty years ago while living in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I was so seriously considering leaving the Navy when my enlistment expired in April, that I was looking for a dog to adopt. I had this idea that I would drive from place to place in my pickup truck with a dog sidekick. I had been a fan of the Steinbeck Travels with Charley and thought that a dog would prove to be more loyal than my human relationships.
You can imagine my joy when looking one Friday afternoon in the animal shelter, I found a black Newfoundland / Lab puppy. When I took him home, he had a horrible case of puppy mange on his hind quarters. The vet I took him to said that he would need several treatment of a medicated skin treatment that would run a Sailor into the poorhouse. Imagine my surprise, when the only shampoo-like thing I had in the house was this organic Amway product — one of my shipmates sold it to me as a detergent. Whatever. But the darn stuff CLEARED UP Happy’s mange in a WEEK. Of course the poor dog had a bare behind for a month until his hair grew back. The Amway guy did NOT like my testimonial for some reason.
So here I was – I tried to think of great burly-dog names, literary names, names of mariners, and nothing quite fit like — Happy. He was a happy dog for all of the next 16 years. And he did accompany me everywhere. When I re-enlisted and was going to be transferred to San Diego, he came with me. That’s how I came to live in Lakeside, California, east of San Diego and where my next transition — to married life – happened in a series of events that I believe was part -dog story, yet undeniably a God-story too.