Little did I realize so many people share my happy dilemma: having a dog that is the light of your life yet insufferable when it comes to other people and animals. On Sept. 2, I wrote about Molly, the 3 1/2-year-old Lab mix my wife and I adopted from the SPCA Tampa Bay nearly three years ago. Readers across the bay area responded with their own stories of frustration but mostly love. Some excerpts from the more than 20 e-mails I received: Walker | Gerri Ochab, Oldsmar
I can relate to your story on Molly. I have a dog who once was a wild guy. When he was inches away from biting the UPS guy, I decided to take action and contacted a dog trainer. I paid quite a bit for the training, but it definitely is worth it. Walker is a fabulous dog now. I can have friends come over without worrying. People can stop to pet him on our walks, and my arm isn't yanked out of the socket from him dragging me with him.
Angel | Susan Leff, Largo
What a beautiful story. … I went through a similar situation with my Rottweiler. True puppy hell, but you know I wouldn't trade my Angel for the world. She's going to be 12 years old Nov. 3 and Rotties usually only go for around 10 years. So we are all hoping and praying that she will be with us a few more. Boy, did I go through some really tough times barking at other dogs, chewing, housebreaking, but when I look at her at night sleeping next to me and that wonderful welcome home, I'm blessed.
Sparky | Mary Ann Raszetnik, Largo
Your story brought tears to my eyes this morning. One year ago, I put my dog to sleep and his story was so similar. He even looked like your dog. I adopted him at the SPCA over 11 years ago. I was a volunteer there and had walked him for four months and bonded with him. This wonderful dog that looked super friendly turned out to be quite aggressive and quite a growler. . . . Time went on and he learned to tolerate the rest of the family and was good, except with strangers. At one point, I almost lost him, but finally they diagnosed him with inflammatory bowel disease and with a low dose of prednisone every few days, he got better. Five years later . . . he couldn't be saved. The day I put him to sleep I felt like a big piece of my heart died. I will never get over him.
Jonna | Debbie White, Safety Harbor
I loved your column today on adopting a dog! I also adopted a dog who was close to a year old and had just had puppies from the Humane Society in Clearwater. She started off like your dog, chasing the cat, fighting with all the neighbors' dogs and obviously had been beaten because every time I tried to discipline her, she either yelped or tried to bite me. Fast forward to today: She is 7 years old, is very well behaved (except with other dogs) and has not had one "accident" in the house in several years. She is a great housemate and friend and it just shows what can happen with some love, respect and good food.
Lucy | Janice Lindstone, Pinellas Park
My little Lucy, all of 20 pounds and a miniature schnauzer, is the terror of the neighborhood. I have had to hang a special basket for the mail, she barks at everyone who walks by, and like your Molly, everyone on a bicycle, etc. Lucy also came from the SPCA. My husband was chronically ill for several years and Lucy was his little girl. . . . She chewed up my $2,000 hearing aid, but Len said nothing and we got a new one. . . . Len passed away two years ago and Lucy has been my best friend. She no longer does any damage. She sits on my lap and looks up to me with her big black eyes. She loves to cuddle. She will lie down with me but eventually goes to sleep on her favorite spot, the coffee table.
Mandy | Boies Coppinger, Sun City Center
Delightful story, but contains two errors:
1. Her name's not Molly, it's Mandy ; 2. She lives in my house, not yours. Otherwise a totally accurate portrait.
Steve Morse can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4152.