Everyone Needs and Deserves a Wendell

By Stuart Adelberg


This has been a tough month – three weeks ago I lost a great friend. If you’ve read my past columns, or were an Old Greenwich or Stamford neighbor, you know that I’m talking about my walking buddy, Wendell. My loud, obstinate, wonderful beagle has passed away and I am beyond sad. I know this persistent hole in my heart will eventually be filled with fond memories, but for now, this lingering melancholy seems an appropriate trade for all that my furry friend gave to me for almost thirteen years.

I have a story about Wendell that I don’t often share because it involves my health, a subject I avoid as much as possible. But, if we can get beyond that, it’s a demonstration of how lovingly loyal our pets can be and might explain the unbreakable bond I still feel for my difficult, annoying, adorable beagle.

One morning, about six years ago, Wendell and I were taking our typical walk in Binney Park. I have no memory, to this day, of what happened during the walk, but I ended up in an ambulance with an EMT checking my vitals. Of course, the first question I remember asking was “Where is my dog?” I was told that the police had taken him home. Though I didn’t recall doing this, I had apparently given them my address.

The EMT told me that someone had called 911 after spotting a man on the ground with a dog sitting next to him. If I wasn’t already lying down, that story would have knocked me over. Beagles are hunters. They take off after a scent, a sound, or the sight of just about anything that moves. Once they’re on the run there’s no stopping them. So the idea that Wendell stayed by my side as I lay on the ground – admittedly with no idea how long I was there – is a minor miracle! And who knows if the 911 caller would have even seen me, if it wasn’t for the beagle beside me? It may be a stretch, but since that time, our family legend is that Wendell saved my life! Of course, if he was as smart as Lassie, he would have run for help, but I’ll take that up with him someday when we meet in heaven!!

To wrap up the medical story – because I guess I must – I ended up in the hospital for a couple of days as they searched for an explanation, to no avail. There’s a name for this, but I don’t remember what it is and I’m just thankful it has never happened again. During my brief hospitalization, nurses came in often to check on me, but even more visited my room looking for pictures of Wendell. Word of him sitting by my side spread quicker than an infection, and though he didn’t know it, my little buddy had become somewhat of a folklore hero.

The day Wendell passed, I came home from the veterinarian and quietly went out for the walk that he and I typically took. I continue to do this everyday and have no intention of stopping. I am pretty sure that walking with Wendell saved my life many times beyond this particular story, getting me through personal challenges, heartbreaks and even unsettling world events. Walking in his memory will help me get through this, as well. Whether you know it or not everyone needs and deserves a Wendell. I will remember and be eternally grateful for mine!

Stuart Adelberg has a long history of leadership and active involvement in the nonprofit arts and human services sectors throughout Fairfield County. He appreciates the opportunity provided by Greenwich Sentinel to share his occasional thoughts and observations.

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