If I Was Still a Real Editor. . .

. . .I’d do more dog stories.

The most attention the Washingtonian ever got during my 40 years there was when we put Bush 41’s dog Millie on the cover and called her Washington’s ugliest dog.

Then this week I put up a Facebook post about our lost dog Cruiser and it got far more reaction than any of my posts about journalism.

Who doesn’t love a good dog story? In a time when journalism seems increasingly negative, a dog can be a reminder that there is cheerfulness, affection, and loyalty in the world. A good dog greets the day with enthusiasm and is rarely angry.

As for Cruiser, the lost dog, here’s the Facebook post that got so much attention, plus a note at the end showing that a good journalist never stops asking questions.

The virtues of living in a real neighborhood: My wife Jean and I have lived for almost 40 years in a neighborhood next to Washington, DC—the house is a block from a park and we’ve raised two daughters who loved going to the park as much as we have. Also part of the family have been four Golden Retrievers—the first, Lindy, we got from a neighbor whose dog had four puppies, the current one is Cruiser.

Last night about sunset Jean and Cruiser walked to the park with a neighbor and her two dogs. As they headed home, Cruiser unexpectedly took off, running though the woods toward a neighboring street. He does this occasionally and always reappears in a few minutes. But this time no Cruiser. Jean kept walking up and down the street, calling his name, getting the attention of neighbors, some of them dog owners, who wanted to know what happened.This went on for an hour and by then four families on our street, some with kids in tow, had joined in the search along with one of our daughters who lived nearby. They walked different parts of the neighborhood, calling Cruiser, Cruiser.

Finally about 8 o’clock, two hours after Cruiser took off, our daughter Jeannie thought she heard the cries of a dog in a home’s garage but the garage door was shut. She rang the bell but no answer. About twenty minutes later the owners of the house drove up, hit the button to open the garage door, and Cruiser ran out. Jean then emailed the neighbors, telling them Cruiser was found and thanking them for their help. Almost a neighborhood celebration, showing that plenty of small town caring can be found in big city neighborhoods. Also showing that owning a dog can help neighbors get to know one another.

Ron Cohen. the great UPI and Gannett journalist, asked the question any good editor would ask: How did Cruiser get into a garage if the door was closed? The answer: He got into the garage when the door was open and the homeowners closed it when they left. No one in our neighborhood parks their cars in their garage—cars are parked in the driveway or on the street and garages are used to store all kinds of things, including food, which is why Cruiser likes to go in and explore.

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