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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Ambien incident had, indeed, made him look more Labrador. But he never lost his wings. You know, that wave of lighter hair on the shoulders that went the wrong way.

We moved to the city when Watson was 2, and he loved city life! Walkies every day, getting pets from everyone he met. My SO worked from home, so he took Watson to Starbucks every morning for coffee. He was there so much we had a tag made for him that said “Take me to Starbucks” if he was ever lost. He never was.

Watson would sit outside and work the crowd. His direct eye contact and look of hopefulness made people stop. Then his joyful face and wagging tail got the “Ooohs” and “Awwwws” he thrived on. He became an expert on extracting squeals of delight from young ladies. There was something about Watson that made people want to just love on him. As all Golden owners know, strangers will come up and bury their face in a Golden's fur. But Watson would seek people out. It was his mission when walking downtown.

And for this reason, Watson had a fan club. It started with the homeless community who we saw daily. They’d hug Watson and love him like he was their own. They would rub his back and he’d lean on them with all his weight. Yes, he was a leaner. Smiley and Shakey started the Watson Fan Club. Smiley (cuz he was missing a few teeth) and his girlfriend Shakey (cuz she was always twitching) would ride by in a car and hang out the window yelling “WHAAATSON!!!!” Always made us laugh. Many folks downtown knew Watson. The store owners knew him, the regular patrons knew him. We made many friends through our dear Watson.

Our city is very dog friendly. There used to be iron dogs statues downtown, but most were cut down during the Civil War to melt for ammunition; only two remain, I have attached the pic of a Newfy. So the city loves dogs. There are water bowls in front of most stores and restaurants, and many allow dogs inside. We were always encountering other dogs. We were civil, behaved well for the most part. Watson especially liked the little dogs, and I would tell him to “love your kitties” which meant be gentle. He would lay down and be on their level, which put them at ease.

But Watson wasn’t so good with bigger dogs. It was the one exposure he lacked in his younger years, only having Benny and Sasha, the Goldens next door, to interact with. Oh, he wanted to play with every dog he saw, but just didn’t understand the proper protocol. Going to the dog park became stressful for me. Watson decided early on he wasn’t a push over, and if there was any domination going on, he wasn’t going to let it happen. We developed the Three Second rule. If another dog got on top of his shoulders, all in play of course, we told the owner Watson wasn’t going to tolerate it and we had about 3 seconds. It was always fast. Watson would spin around and bark/growl fiercely to tell the other dog “Oh no you don’t”. I tried to avoid that situation at all costs, and kept a very close eye on him.

One day, while playing in the park, a young unaltered male pit bull tried to play. But it became a game of domination, and they started to get aggressive. I pulled Watson away, but the pit came after him. The fight was on. Watson defended himself. I finally got them to knock it off and started to walk away with Watson by the collar, but the pit owner did nothing. The pit came after him again, and I was holding him back. The pit bit him in the face, I let go of the collar, and in a flash, Watson spun the dog around and pinned him to the ground by the throat. Watson held him there, the pit snarling and snapping and trying to get free, but 100 pounds of retriever laying on his chest kept him down. He didn’t hurt him, just held him down. The owner finally came over and we separated the dogs. The pit was not hurt, but Watson sported a black hairless scar under his right eye for a long time. Battle wound. He never liked pit bulls or any bully breed after that.

City living also meant people and dogs walking right by the front window. These are old houses from the 1880’s, and the windows go from the floor to the ceiling. Watson would lay in the window to keep an eye on the neighborhood. Naw, not really. He was laying in wait to startle unsuspecting passersby…the best entertainment if you have to be cooped up in the house. One time he scared a German Shepherd so bad the poor guy jumped straight up in the air with all four feet like a cat. Dogs walking by got to know our house as That House. Dogs would start barking before they even got to the window. And Watson’s barking was fierce, with his nails digging into the window sill like bear claws. I don’t know if he was protecting us, or just being a jerk. He never barked at people though, unless they were suspicious youths in hoodies who paused too long by our stoop. That behavior got a very deep and serious growl.
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Walking downtown, laying by the wood stove in winter, snoozing in the kiddie pool in summer. Life was good.

And then came the baby.
 

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I've really enjoyed your posts. Thanks for sharing him with us!
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Carolina Mom, that's what I'm hoping for, to take you all on a journey with me! I have enjoyed reading so many stories here. Watson did have a little 'sister', my step-daughters terrier Callie. He let her get away with everything. They weren't exactly buds, but he got to play a lot with her.
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