From Kathy, Phil and Lauren Kolczynski (Ward’s human family):
We wanted to update you about our big handsome boy Ward. We were living in the Tustin Hills in 2004 and had adopted a very shy 2 year old girl named Roxie from Operation Greyhound in San Diego. She was a beauty, but after 3-4 months she would still not go anywhere near my husband Phil. She tolerated me but felt most comfortable in our daughter Lauren’s room. Phil tried everything to no avail. It was suggested that we needed an Alpha dog to show her the way. We had no intentions of getting a second dog and did not know quite what to do.
We attended a greyhound picnic and were enjoying the fun when I “lost” my husband. I saw him in the distance being pulled around the picnic area by a big brindle boy. “What are you doing” I said. He said “Isn’t this dog beautiful, why don’t you take him for a walk?” I am not exaggerating, this dog was pulling my arm out of the socket. We left the picnic and back at home, my husband could not stop talking about “Award.” He was a Hemopet hound and shortly thereafter joined our little family which also included our 8th grade daughter Lauren, 2 year old Roxie, and a tabby cat.
Roxie was thrilled to see him when he arrived at our house. Her happiness turned south very quickly when he tried to briefly have “his way” with her. She let him have it! The minute he came in the house he tried to mark our sofa. I was not impressed. He was a little “nippy” when running out in the yard. I was actually afraid of him and was having second thoughts about the adoption. I soon learned that this was him just being playful. He never mastered the dog door. Stairs were always a nightmare. He was petrified of the cat. He tried to run across the pool and got his first swimming lesson. He never went near the pool again. When we went on walks with the Needle Nose Crew in Irvine, he always wanted to be in the lead. In the Seal Beach Christmas Parade, he started at the end and finished at the front. He always had that racing instinct. We took him to the tree lighting at Fashion Island and had to leave early after a little chihuahua scared the daylights out of him with it’s incessant barking. So our big Alpha dog was not so sure of himself after all. The positive?? Roxie came right out of her shell and came to be crazy about my husband. Ward showed her the way.
We moved to Southern Oregon in July, 2006. We have a 22 acre property with a large fenced in area where both dogs had plenty of room to run and explore. They have experienced the change of seasons with snow, rain and very warm late summers. If there was any weather except dry, Ward would want to come right back in the house after being let out. Funny guy, always wanted to be right back with his human pack. He still never mastered the dog door or stairs and had to either be lifted (all 90 pounds) or coaxed up a ramp to get in the car.
Unfortunately, Ward developed a limp in October. We feared the worst and osteosarcoma was confirmed in his hip. At 11 1/2 years old and with his lack of mobility he was just not a surgery candidate. We let him go this past week when his pain was not being relieved and we were fearful of a hip fracture. I cannot begin to tell you how much joy this dog brought to our family. He loved us so unconditionally it was beyond belief. He should have been named “Velcro” as he was always attached to one of us as well as any visitor who came to our house. The pain of letting him go has been difficult. We are just trying to remember all the wonderful times we had with him and know that his pain is over.
We want to thank Hemopet/CalGAP for allowing us the honor of bringing Ward into our lives. We’d also like to thank his Foster Mom, Katie Fisher for transitioning him to our home and making sure he was cat safe. I don’t know if she remembers what a “twirler” he was before he would lay down. The first photo was taken on the day we met Ward at the picnic. The second photo was taken here in Oregon recently.We hope that you will share our story with others.
Photos courtesy of the Kolczynski family.