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Rescue dog: Albie, my wingman, is a people-magnet

Rescue dog Albie, a half yellow Lab, half golden retriever, and total people-magnet, attracts strangers and conversation. Perhaps there will be a new Albie-inspired "Life is Good" T-shirt..

By Correspondent / August 17, 2012

Rescue dog Albie, a half yellow Lab, half golden retriever, attracts total strangers and conversations, which turns out to be a good thing.

Courtesy of Peter Zheutlin

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In the five weeks we’ve had Albie, our half yellow Lab, half golden retriever rescue dog, I think I’ve met at least a hundred people I’d never have talked to before. To be with a dog, especially one as appealing and welcoming as Albie, is like wearing a sandwich board with blinking lights that says, “Come say hello and ask me about my dog!”

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Correspondent

Peter Zheutlin is a freelance journalist and author whose work has appeared regularly in the Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor. He has also written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other publications in the US and abroad. He is the author of "Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride" and the co-author of three other books. He lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and two sons.

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This is not an altogether bad thing.  A week ago I was outside a grocery store in western Massachusetts waiting with Albie while my wife Judy shopped inside. Before I knew it, a rather attractive woman in a revealing top was talking sweet nothings in Albie’s ear and striking up a conversation with me. She was in the area spending a month at a well-known yoga retreat. I know Albie was the main attraction, but it occurred to me that during the lean, single years of my early 30s, my biggest mistake was not having an irresistibly adorable dog as my wingman.

As this woman admired Albie, Judy suddenly appeared with a bag of groceries. I was able to tell Judy that she and this nice stranger had something in common: a love of yoga. At the store for five minutes and I already knew a surprising amount about this stranger’s life, including the fact that she had a dog at home she missed terribly, that she’s a yoga instructor, and that she’s moving to North Carolina soon. Judy was very impressed with all the information I’d been able to collect in the time it took her to buy two tomatoes, a cucumber and a small assortment of cheeses.

Albie has inspired random acts of kindness from total strangers, as well. A few minutes before I met the yoga instructor, a woman who worked in the store came out with a bowl of water. She’d seen us through the window and thought he might be thirsty. I’m reasonably sure that if I’d been waiting there by myself in withering heat with sweat pouring off my brow, no one would have looked out the window, taken pity on me, and delivered a tall lemonade with a sprig of mint, or even a glass of water for that matter.

As nice as it is to meet new people, the conversations do have a certain predictability to them, and I think there’s a fortune to be made selling T-shirts that would make these conversations more efficient. For example, mine would say, “His name is Albie. He’s three years old. He’s half yellow Lab, half golden retriever. Yes, he’s friendly. Yes, you can pet him. Thank you for whatever compliments you have bestowed.”

Maybe I should call the Life is Good guys because life sure is good with Albie.

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