The second inductee into the Companion Category is Winston, an English Bulldog, belonging to Linda Smith and her son, Shaun of South Hero, VT. Dr. Millie Armstrong is the nominating VVMA member veterinarian.
Linda promised her son Shaun, who had recently been diagnosed with a very serious illness, that she would purchase a puppy for him after the sale of their home of 23 years on the lake. Shaun spent hours researching dog breeds, characteristics and personalities trying to find just the right dog to become his best friend. He admired the handsome and noble face of the English Bulldog and was intrigued with the reports of their good natured dispositions and endearing ways. Shaun found an ad for a brindle Bulldog pup in Florida. After many conversations, Shaun convinced his brother Greg, who was working in Florida, to pick up the puppy, call him Winston, and fly home with him to Vermont.
On a cold December day in 1999, Winston arrived at the airport. Shaun took this small, brown and white bundle of wrinkles into his arms and hugged him. It was love at first sight.
Shaun’s grandfather had recently had a stroke and was hospitalized. Linda and Shaun had moved to a cottage near by to be close to her parents. Shaun’s grandfather had made them promise to stop by on their way home from the airport to introduce Winston to him. When Linda, Shaun and Greg arrived at the hospital, the entire nursing staff turned out to greet the new little puppy. Shaun’s grandfather was so pleased to meet the new member of the family. Shaun was so pleased to be able to share his new friend with his grandpa. Everyone was happy…..Three days later, Shaun’s grandfather died.
Winston helped Shaun through his grief. He also helped with the stress of the recent move and Shaun’s illness. They became constant companions.
Winston was “a wiggle”. Although he did not have a tail to speak of, Winston wagged his tail by wagging his whole body. He was in constant “Wiggle Mode”. He would smile and snort and greet you with big sloppy Bulldog kisses. Winston’s favorite pastime was to jump into Shaun’s chair, snuggle down beside him and fall asleep. His gentle snoring soon had Shaun asleep, giving him the rest his illness required. Pizza was Winston’s favorite word and his favorite treat. One could often find Shaun and Winston sharing a piece of pizza together. They both loved country western music and would watch music videos together.
Winston was a member of the family and a highlight of family gatherings where he acted as chief greeter. Birthdays, Mardi Gras parties and other special occasions were celebrated with party hats, strings of beads and cupcakes.
Winston sensed Shaun’s needs, would stay by his side, snuggle under his arm and give unconditional love.
At the age of one year, Winston developed seizures. Although medication was helpful, Winston continued to have cluster seizures on a regular basis. He finally succumbed to a bout of seizures in 2003 at the age of three. Shaun died of his illness 2 years later at the age of 26.
Linda wanted to have Winston nominated to the Vermont Animal Hall of Fame not only to celebrate Winston’s companionship, but also to celebrate the lives of Winston and Shaun as a pair. Linda firmly believes that Winston was waiting for Shaun at the Rainbow Bridge on that day in 2005. We are sure that Winston and Shaun are sleeping together in a big chair and sharing pieces of pizza.
We are deeply moved by the love this young man and this dog had for each other and are happy to induct them into the Vermont Animal Hall of Fame in the Companion Category.