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February 02, 2006

Winston

Winston_extraordinary_mastiff_1Running Bear’s Sir Winston CD, CGC

DOB  09.20.97

(Ch. Lionsire Run’n Bear’s Samson x Running Bear’s Tulip)

From Louise Yeiser, Winston’s owner

I have a special love for this gentle soul, partially because he is my first mastiff, but mostly because he is a natural teacher and guide.  I have often told friends that I think of Winston as a reincarnation of one of the Dalai Lamas, only in a canine coat.  He is indeed my yogi dog.

Sometimes he invites me to sit with him, so that he can put his head on my shoulder, and engage me in deep, slow breaths.  This only happens when I am the most stressed out or upset.  If I am the initiator, he won’t participate.  He is the spiritual guide, not me!

One afternoon, years ago, Jeffrey and I had finished class with Winston at Misty Pines Training Center that has a small swimming pond on their training site.  Jeffrey and I invited another friend, Robin, with her rather enthusiastic, energetic Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Rhodey, to come with us to the lake to swim and play fetch.

At the lake, Jeffrey and Rhodey were behind us somewhere, Winston was in the water fetching a tennis ball, and Robin and I were engrossed in conversation.  Winston brought me the ball, I picked it up, and threw it again.  Robin and I continued talking while Winston swam around in circles at the far end of the lake, with the fluorescent, yellow tennis ball in his mouth.

"Help!” I heard Jeffrey yell from behind me.  Robin and I both whipped around to see Rhodey jumping all over him.  Jeffrey was trying to protect himself with a towel.  “Somebody help!  I can’t get him off me!”

"Rhodey, come!” Robin yelled.  Rhodey ignored her.  Jeffrey was moving backward, trying to get away from the puppy.  He already had blood-red scratches all over his chest.  Robin and I started to run.

That was the moment when I saw Winston zoom past us in a blur of reddish-tan.

"Uh oh,” I thought, wondering how in the world he had negotiated the lake, the banks, and the run up the hill, in what seemed like a matter of two seconds.

Of course, he got there first.  To my amazement, there was no growl, no physical contact, no obvious correction or warning, nothing.  What I observed was Winston running to Rhodey, catching his eye, holding eye contact for a few seconds with tail wagging, and then both dogs running off.  They didn’t go into the lake right away, choosing instead to run a lap or two before diving in.  We quickly ascertained that Jeffrey was alright, except for the scratches on his chest; and he joined us, watching in amazement as the two dogs romped around the lake.

"Can you believe what Winston just did?" he asked.

Robin touched my arm.  “I'm so glad everybody's alright. I thought your dog was going to kill my puppy, and he didn’t even touch him.”

"I swear to God, he never even stopped wagging his tail!" I said.

I’d never been in a situation like that before, and I didn’t know what Winston was going to do.  I knew he would protect Jeffrey.  And I feel, looking back on it, that he was also protecting Rhodey.  He found a way to create a win-win situation.

Robin and I were both amazed at Winston’s sense of fun and his gentleness with her puppy.  I am still awed by his winsome ways, every day.  With me, with our other mastiffs, and with other people.  Our house is filled with strangers constantly, who are helping me remodel my home, and he leans his greeting against their legs, before trying to engage them in a dribbling match with his favorite ball in the backyard.  He wears his goodwill on the outside.  Eye contact and a smile are the lessons he teaches.

I wish I could keep him with me forever.

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