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Willi has turned out to be Jony Corwin McQuiddy's Christmas present in July.

David Stoneberg, Star

Traditionally, “Going to the dogs” is not a good phrase … a sign of hopelessness, unpromising, on the road to utter ruin, even straight to hell. Hardly where one might wish to be especially in the middle of a plethora of holidays.

We’ve had our ups and downs this year, falling into Halloween, Thanksgiving, myriad religious celebrations and facing a new year. The mine is on a merry-go-round, spinning with it all, from right next door all the way to national prominence.

At least this one: Silver-haired now and a bit wobbly at times in various configurations and places.

It is a good decade since the Star printed my columns describing the years I “walked the streets with Ol’ Blue” by my side and wrote mostly glowingly of what we saw and experienced in this old St. Helena town, even as we watched it shimmer and change like Northern Lights; where would it “progress” next? Was it really going to remain the “old St. Helena” some residents moved here for? Or was the baby being thrown out with the bathwater? Who would lead us next, and down what path?

Ol’ Blue passed on … but somehow I did not. I’m still here, to watch and wonder.

Three years ago my good doctor gave me a strong prescription: Jony, he sighed, there’s nothing medicine can do for you, so just keep doing what you’re doing, except as soon as possible, get another dog. And so sweet Willi came into my life.

I’d muttered to myself what I really wanted was a fox. Read a book in childhood about one adopted from the wild and thought how cool is that? And lo and behold, there he was at a Bay Area shelter, this 20-pound, honey-furred, bushy-tailed, perky, big brown eyed (rimmed in black), pointy-nosed creature, rescued just as about-to-be-put-down in Bakersfield, a little wild from running the streets with a pack, finally caught and at about 2 years of age, a most willful and vocal piece of real life.

The shelter folks did not deem him a proper match for a little old lady, but with my dear son’s backing and no line of other adopters in the background, he came home with me to Tree Cottage.

I can’t exactly boast of his mellowing over these three years … he still has a definite “mind of his own” … but we have learned each other’s languages and are now a close team. He has chosen to become my protector, my nighttime cuddler, my true companion, and I live to return the love. It’s easy to say I am here because of him.


My Christmas gift in July.

I was “going to the dogs,” and then everything turned around.

So I got on the computer and typed in the words … what exactly do they stand for?


Turns out that people used that phrase as far back as the 1500s. It referred to anything worthless, not fit for humans, so why not “give it to the dogs?” Down the centuries it became associated with anything undesirable, especially if one were on such a path (in today’s world, it pops up a lot).

Still, more recently, as in 1927 in the United Kingdom, there evolved a new event to be excited about, called “greyhound racing.” If you wanted to experience a new (and quite desirable) good thing to do, you found yourself “going to the dogs.” You were literally “off to the races.” What fun!

So we always have a choice. As one son is fond of reminding me, it all depends on your perspective. We are creatures of attitude as is Willi.

Every morning he lets me know it’s a new day and time to get going … to my dog .. and see what’s about to happen. Maybe a very happy holiday.

Jony Corwin McQuiddy lives with sweet Willi in the Tree Cottage where they choose to wake up to blue skies, even when it’s “raining cats and dogs.”