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Photo courtesy of Geoff Tischman Photography

By Ellen Deixler

It’s true. Just about everyone in Rye knows Willy. He’s a dog that stands out and everyone is attracted to him because he’s so handsome and unique looking. As we walk around town everyone greets him. People call out from their cars, “Willy!” And for those seeing him for the first time, it’s always the same, “What a beautiful dog!” “What kind of dog is that?” “Is that a Dalmation?” 

Willy doesn’t seem to tire of the attention. He’s a dog that connects. He lets people admire him and he gives them a doggie hug by gently leaning against them. He patiently allows little kids to pet him and he might even get to gently lick their hands or face.

None of us imagined what an extraordinary dog Willy would be when we adopted him from North Shore Animal League 15 years ago as a ten-week old puppy. He was cute as could be, all right. And his gentle nature shone right from the start.

We Deixlers were lucky that Lassie was part of our family for almost 13 years. Our sons, Avi and Ben, and our cats, Smokey and Pepper, all grew up with Lassie. She was a quintessential Collie, beautiful, highly intelligent and loyal. A year after Lassie died, on our son Ben’s 10th birthday, my husband and I drove out to Long Island, cautiously looking for a new dog. We tried to use our best instincts because we wanted a really good dog, like Lassie.

Willy stood out from the other puppies. My husband Howard was immediately drawn to him and he felt that Willy was looking right at him. We could feel he was special. He was so cute and super calm. He was unique looking. And he still is!

Willy is pure white, splattered with black spots of all sizes and in all places. He has one spot above his left eye, a really big one in the middle of his back, like a saddle, and one at the base of his rump, at the top of a magnificent white plume tail.  

It’s hard to describe just what it is that makes Willy so special. It’s more than his unique appearance. It’s his personable personality. Willy truly takes pleasure in being with others. Not in a needy way, but in an easy way. Whatever that combination of intelligence and good nature are, Willy’s got it right, and his good nature shines through.

After all these years Willy continues to allow people to admire him and enjoy him, especially us! We celebrated his 13th birthday with a “Bark Mitzvah.” It was a fun family occasion and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our special boy!

Willy has always especially loved Rye Town Park.  When he was young, he was the fastest dog in the park and loved to play chase with the other dogs.  He’s been a good friend to many dogs and people in Rye for 15 years.  If he could speak, Willy would say, “Rye is the best place to live! The park, the beach, the boardwalk, and nearby Saxon Woods are so great. I love them all year round.” Willy is an old man now, but he’s still got pep in his step. You’re likely to see everybody’s BDW (Best Dog in the World) trotting along, loving life.


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