Woodrow was a good dog.
At least in the eyes of Ramona Conard he was. Even so, it took more than a year for them to become inseparable friends.
“Me and that angel,” she says, pointing now to a picture that she has of them together.
“He was given to me for Valentine’s Day when he was 8 weeks old. I was totally unprepared to get a puppy. He came from the Bonnet Pet Center in the mall,” she explained.
“For the first year and a half of his life, I said the Lord could not have made a worse puppy.”
Her sister, Julia Scoville, agrees. “Woodrow started off being the worst puppy on the planet.”
Conard remembers, “I had so much trouble with his behavior. He would nip on my legs. Oh, I just had so much trouble with him,” she said.
“For a basset hound — which is normally a lethargic, slow, lazy dog — he was just the opposite. He was a hyper-active basset hound. He would eat panty hose, socks — I had to call the vet on him all the time. They would say, ‘What has he eaten this time?’ ”
She emphasized, “He just liked to eat things. We called him Gutter Gut. He liked to eat things that he wasn’t supposed to eat. He swallowed an entire package of Oscar Mayer Wieners once before I could get them off the cabinet. He swallowed the whole package!”
She said, “He would get into everything. I would walk him, and he would eat stuff out of the gutter. He just never slowed down.”
There was an observable change, though, maybe a time when Woodrow was past the teenage years of a dog’s life.
Conard could see the battle had been won, or it may have been just that Woodrow had seen the light.
“He got to be more fun, and I enjoyed every second of his life. He was my baby. I don’t have children, and he was my child.”
Scoville observed the transformation, also: “By age 2, his personality changed, and he was her child.”
Conard remembers of Woodrow, “He was both an inside and an outside dog. The last several years he stayed in with me. I don’t care what kind of day I had, I don’t care what my problems were, every day I couldn’t wait to get home to him. We sat in the floor and played with his toys. I bought him Dollar Tree toys all the time. And in three minutes it would be torn up. But it was worth it. We played, we bonded. He was so fun. He adored me and I adored him.
“He was the focus of my whole world.”
She remembers, “He didn’t like for me to talk on the phone. I would come home at 5, get on the phone, and this is when he would bark. He would bark at me until I got off the phone. I would have to tell whoever I was with, ‘I’m sorry, Woodrow doesn’t want me on the phone. I’m going to have to hang up and call you back later.’
“He would bark at me, nip at me, and bark at me until I hung up the phone — he wanted my undivided attention.”
After Woodrow developed what was considered a small and insignificant cancer, Conard began to realize that time was limited. When Woodrow died at age 12, a life span that is considered long for a basset hound, he was buried in the pet section of Peaceful Gardens on Valentine’s Day, 2011.
“Every moment with him was precious to me. I do remember him eating things, swallowing things that he shouldn’t get into. I always worried about what I was going to do because of that. He got into things he wasn’t supposed to, and him barking, wanting me off the phone.
“But no matter what my life or day was, I had to get home to him. Every night we sat in the floor and played, and I kissed on him all the time. He was just the joy of my life. I guess maybe because I don’t have children.”
When he was gone, she was distraught and in urgent need of comfort in her loss.
Scoville said her sister’s dog was identified with Valentine’s Day for the family. “He was a little Valentine puppy in the first place. The day after he died, out on her back porch — and she was so grief stricken she didn’t take a picture of it — but the morning dew, the moisture, had formed a heart on her back porch on the concrete.”
Conard has looked at things around her as having a spiritual aspect of comfort.
“If you just look for the signs and see, there is communication in sounds and signs. It’s just comforting. And I believe in that communication. I believe in the Lord doing that. I believe that’s a sign of comfort to all of us.”
She said, “I don’t care if it was a dog, if it was a person or what, I could not have been more grief-stricken over this if it was a person. And the Bible talks about, ‘Blessed are they that mourn, they will be comforted.’
“I so believe that.”
Conard sees reminders of Woodrow in the things of life around her. The color of his coat was red and yellow, and she thinks of him when she sees a robin with its red breast and yellow beak. “A good lady friend of mine told me it was a robin red breast. It’s the male — the female is not as bright. I would see them out at the cemetery, and I called it the Woodrow Bird.”
For her comfort, perhaps, she can see reminders even in commercial signs. She and her sister had talked about entering the photo of her dog and one of his toys in a contest, or maybe sending it to Hallmark for a card. But there was an Internet challenge of technology to thread through to send in an application, so they gave up the idea.
A day or so later, Conard was driving down 82nd Street and saw a digital sign operated by the Kwik Kar Auto and Lube Center owned by Tom Roy. The sign read, “Woodrow sez enter photo.”
It was kind of a coincidence involving Roy’s own dog, a poodle-Laborador mix that also is named Woodrow. He is offering a contest for people with dogs associated with cars to build business.
It was so striking to Conard, that she asked her sister to also look at the sign.
Scoville said, “She basically hunted me down — I was running errands — and she said, you have to see it to believe it. I have to say, actually my mouth dropped.”
Conard talked to Roy about the contest and found that he had named his dog after the same “Lonesome Dove” character from whom Woodrow’s name was derived.
She entered the contest.
Now, she is watching for reminders of Woodrow, and for the comfort they give.
Even Woodrow’s resting place has a name to remember: Peaceful Gardens Cemetery is located at the small community of Woodrow.
“If you are going from the Tahoka Highway, there is a sign that says Woodrow,” Conard said with a smile and eyes that are not entirely dry.
“If you want to know where Woodrow is, he has his own traffic sign with an arrow that points to the right.”