Our Black Lab, Winston
The story of Winston:
By Joe Houle
Winston, a ten year old black Lab came to us through Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida. I was asked to drive down to Fort Myers and pick him up. His current foster parents agreed to meet me in the parking lot of a restaurant just off of 75. When I arrived there was Winston sprawled out on the pavement beside his foster parents.
They handed his leash over and I was able to coax him into the back of my SUV. I got back on the highway and Winston just laid down in the back and dozed off. When I pulled off the highway and headed home on local roads I opened the rear windows and he instantly popped up and stuck his head out. He just loved riding in the car with his head out the window. Winston was a train wreck when we got him. He had been picked up as a stray on a street in Naples. He couldn’t see so good or hear so good. He was recovering from surgery performed on his back to remove a fatty tumor and he had a growth on the inside of his right front paw. His classic Lab otter tail was kinked because someone had obviously slammed it in a car door. On top of all of this he suffered from arthritis which made it difficult for him to get up and down off the floor. He was so depressed that he would not eat and we had to hand feed him his kibble. So this is the package that we received and it was obvious that he was going to need a lot of work and patience.
We supplied that along with a hefty dose of love and things gradually began to change. One of the first things we took care of was that growth on his paw with financial assistance from Lab Rescue. After a few days he began to eat on his own. Next up was the dog park where he got to explore things off leash. At first he would woof at anyone, dog or person who got close because he really couldn’t see them all that well. This too passed as he became familiar with the park and its occupants. He did not like to be watched while doing his business. One would get a look that said “please don’t watch me do this.” Winston refused to enter the house through the garage. After a trip we would open the garage door go through the garage and then let Winston in the front door. After he become more relaxed and the depression began to lift things really took off. We fostered a female Lab named Mandy. Mandy was pretty much still a puppy and she was a runner. She was the only dog we know of who dug her way out of the Lakeview dog park. Well one day both Mandy and Winston blasted out the front door and it took 2 hours to round them up. Winston could hardly stand up he was so tired but he really seemed happy, he had had an excellent adventure. Now for the water, Winston absolutely loved it, God how he loved it. It must have relieved the arthritis pain. We would take him out on the boat and as soon as we touched the beach at midnight pass he was over the hill and into the water. When it was time to go he would look at us like “What? Not yet!” even though he would be staggering once again. He loved the dog beach in Venice. We were at Red Bug Slough one day and he just leaped off the bank into the lake. He had forgotten that he was no longer a puppy. We would take him to Edwards Island in the Intercoastal and he would run up and down the hills and jump in and out of the water. It was never easy to get him back into the boat. We have fostered and adopted several Labs over the years and we have loved them all but Winston was special and I think it was because he came from so far down to being happy and at times even acting like a puppy.