Al (far right) was the 4th person we met in Southern Maryland when we moved here in 2002.
He did our home visit for GRREAT so we could be a foster family for golden retrievers.
Met him again in 2007 when Joe and I put an ad in THE ENTERPRISE for a meeting to start a golden retriever rescue group here in SOMD.
From then on I talked with Al by phone, email or in person almost every single day until early this summer.
Most mornings I woke up to an email forwarded from him mostly about the rescue, but other things too.
We quickly became friends; though from emails, I’m not sure how. Most emails were just a forward with no comments from him.
When we did have an email exchange it went something like these I pulled up from my computer:
Pat – Will you trade out the old guide for this beautiful new one on the web site?
Al – Done
Pat – So x is the url and y is the descriptor of the link?
Al – There are no ” around y.
Al – What emails do you want forwarded?
Pat- Only Petfinder Adoptions Inquiries
Pat – Foot healed?
Al – No
Pat – Need to change lunch day
Are you available Wed/Thurs?
Al – Either one.
Pat – Thursday
Pat – You ready for another pup? 115 lbs good with other dogs 5 years old, red
Al- I’ll talk it over with Jean tonight.
We bonded over our love of dogs.
Unlike most of the Golden Rescue Board who are nice people who mean well, Al understood dog behavior and training. We both also researched and read about keeping our pups healthy. We were both raw feeders. Minimal vaccinators, etc,
I have told this story at rescue meetings, but I’ll share it again as I think it’s indicative of the Al I knew.
Not long after the rescue was formed, TCAS called and were going to euthanize a young adult golden retriever who the shelter said was food aggressive, dog aggressive and cat aggressive if we didn’t take her. I could not take her as I already had 4 goldens. I could not think of anyone else who could take on this challenge
I called Al for a consult. His golden Abby had recently crossed Rainbow Bridge. I told him what the shelter said and without me asking, he said, “I’ll take her.” And he immediately went to the shelter and picked up the dog Jean soon named, “Millie.” Millie is the oldest golden retriever I know.
Al was part of the lunch bunch, a group of golden retriever lovers who went out to lunch a couple of times a month. Sometimes there was as many as 20 for lunch. We morphed into the brunch bunch with board members, Norm and Gail Bleakley, Barb and Bob Davis, Barb and Jeff Saylor, Jean and Al and me and my husband, Joe. We also often had dinners together, celebrated birthdays and holidays.
When I got lazy and didn’t coordinate brunches and dinners, Al and I continued to have lunch together. We always talked about dogs and pretty much everything else. For a man who appeared to be of few words, we talked over lunch for hours.
When I left the rescue board this past May I was angry with Al for being Switzerland over an issue that was important to me. I didn’t speak with him all summer.
Then I learned he was pretty sick in the hospital.
My text message to him: You alive?
Al – Yes
A few days later I messaged again when I learned he was still in the hospital, I messaged again:
Too sick for visitors?
Al – Yes
We did message a bit more, talked briefly on the phone and I could tell by his voice we were saying goodbye when he told me he couldn’t think of anyone else he would rather have take care of his dogs.
I will miss him.