The first time I met Steve Wilson, in 1978, he asked me where I wanted to be in five years, and I looked at him like he was crazy.
Five years? How could anyone possibly plan that far ahead? Five years was, like, forever, and I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be next week, or for that matter tomorrow.
I was applying for a job in Lexington, Kentucky, at a newspaper where he was managing editor. I was 24, and among the many things I didn’t know at the time was how quickly five years can zip by.
The same holds true of 11 years.
At age 11, Ranger, the golden retriever Wilson took home as an eight-week-old pup, passed away just before Christmas.
Wilson wrote about Ranger — “my best friend and maybe the happiest soul I’ve ever known” — in a recent article in the Kentucky Enquirer, where he’s the editor:
“Golden retrievers are famously sweet, friendly and mellow. Ranger was true to his breed and then some. He radiated joy. He was gentle, innocent and steady as a rock. He wanted nothing more than to be a faithful companion and to give and receive love. His devotion never wavered.
“A person can learn a lot from a dog, and he gave lessons in appreciating everyday moments. When we took walks and hikes, he seemed to enjoy every step and gave me looks that said, “Hey, is this a great day or what?” When I came home from work, he rushed to the door to greet me with a smiling face that made whatever I was dealing with that day a little easier to handle … He was unacquainted with discontent”
Wilson, who helped open a dog shelter in Flagstaff, Arizona, has had many dogs, dating back to the era we worked together at the Lexington Leader. We even had the same dog. His family called her Jessie; I called her Carrie (in honor of my crush on Sissy Spacek). We disagree on who had her first. I remember him giving her to me; he remembers me giving her to him. In any event, Jessie, a tad neurotic, ended up with another reporter, who had a farm in the country.
Wilson and I would go on to work for a handful of other newspapers, and he’d end up in Phoenix, where he left journalism and went to work for Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard. When he brought Ranger to visit the offices, Wilson recalled, the place seemed to brighten up.
In August of 2012, he returned to the newspaper profession, hauling Ranger and his coonhound mix, Clara, with him to a new job in Kentucky.
Ranger quickly made new friends, at Kenton County’s Paw Park and when Wilson brought him into the offices of the Kentucky Enquirer, where he quickly hit it off with the news staff.
In the past few weeks, Ranger lost weight and grew weak — to the point where he could barely stand. At the vet, it was agreed it was time to let him go. Wilson stroked Ranger’s coat as a lethal injection was administered.
The following week, Wilson returned to the office from lunch to find a card on his desk signed by his new colleagues, along with a copy of ‘The Power of Dog,’ a Rudyard Kipling poem:
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, death, dogs, editor, golden retriever, grief, kenton county, kentucky enquirer, loss, mourning, northern kentucky, paw park, pets, ranger, rudyard kipling, steve wilson, the power of dog