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I miss my fur-wrapped friends

I’ve had several pets over the course of my life so far.

I’ve had all kinds of fish, Russian hamsters, mice, rats, turtles and lizards, cats and dogs. Right now we have a couple of goldfish and that’s it.

This week a friend lost his dog, his best friend, buddy and — for all practical purposes — child. This hound got a life-threatening infection and was too old to fight it. The loss hit him hard.

It’s got me thinking about the dogs I’ve had that were special to me. I’ve had several and I’ve loved them all, but three stand out to me: Woody, Yngwie and Tallahassee.

Woody was a pitt/mutt mix, peanut butter brown short hair, a great disposition and a seldom-used but intimidating bark. The tiny puppy came home with my wife and three young children one day when they’d “been to town.”

“Where’d you get the dog?” I asked.

“From Walmart!” the boys answered.

Someone in front of McComb Walmart was giving them away and they couldn’t resist. Couldn’t return him — they had no receipt. I named him Woody because he quickly claimed a napping spot on top of the wood pile on the back porch.

Woody was special to my only (at the time) daughter. He was her guardian, her sidekick, doll, horse and whatever else she wanted. She was growing quickly, but he grew faster.

In no time she was barely taller than he was, but she wrapped her little arm around his neck and drug him everywhere she wanted to go — down the steps, across the yard. She even tried to pull him by his ears up onto the slide. If I ever had to get on to her for misbehaving, Woody would insert himself between us — her protector.

We lost Woody when he tried to save our cat from getting hit by an oncoming car in the street. The cat was fine, though stupid. Woody was neither. He was 8 or 9 years old.

Years later, I picked up a blonde puppy that was really almost white and carried her in one hand from a friend’s truck to my Jeep. She cuddled up and slept between the front seats on our drive to her new home. My sons helped me name her. I chose several names that I liked, mostly from characters in books or movies, or the names of guitar players I listened to. The only one we could all agree upon was the first name of Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteem. So we named her Yngwie (pronounced ING-vay) even though Malmsteen is a guy. And the dog was nowhere near as obnoxious as the man.

She loved to bark at the deer and whippoorwill that were in our yard at night, but didn’t care for whatever that was rustling through the woods one evening nearby. Her rabbit-like ears perked up from where she stood beside me on the porch and she took off into the trees. Moments later, she came flying back, tail tucked between her legs and zipped into the house to lie down by my chair. No barking, no whimpering, just an “I ain’t going back out there” attitude. I decided I wouldn’t either, so I joined her in the den.

Ynqwie met her end when just 6 months old. She went out for a jog with my oldest son. A truck got too close to him for her liking, so she attacked it. She lost.

Both the woman who accidentally struck Woody and the man who was driving the truck felt terrible about what happened, and kept apologizing. Neither was their fault.

Many years later, the daughter who drug Woody around now works for that woman at the restaurant her family owns. Strange how things work like that.

Then there was Tallahassee. He was full of energy and had a beautiful full coat of black, white, grey and brown, mimicking his father’s Australian Shepherd look. But he was twice the size of every other pup in the litter, and within just a few months was as big as his mother, a bloodhound. He wasn’t necessarily the smartest dog, but so loving and loveable.

But we moved to another state, to a location where dogs were not allowed. A friend volunteered to keep Tally for us temporarily until we found different living accommodations. But their elderly neighbor and our dog became fast friends and we didn’t find another place … Tally got a new home.

I miss those dogs. I miss dogs.

I can’t say I understand how my friend feels about losing his sidekick — loss is never the same for each of us. But I know what it is to lose a furry friend you care about.

I could never replace Woody, Yngwie or Tallahassee. But I can be a friend to another fur-bound entity.

As soon as I live somewhere dogs are allowed.

Lifestyles editor Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com or 601-265-5307.