Dogs, Learning, and Love

Twenty-five years in, we still love what we do and appreciate your support.


The first issue of WDJ was published in 1998. A month after the first issue came out, my son turned 6 years old; later that year, my Border Collie, Rupert, turned 9 years old. Rupie made it to 14 years old. After his death, I took a break and only fostered dogs and puppies for a couple years before I adopted Otto, seen with me in the photo here (and illustrated on the cover masthead).

Otto just turned 15 years old. I’m not certain he will be here in January for the first issue in our 26th year of publication – but he might! He’s increasingly rickety and nearly totally deaf, but he’s still grousing at the younger dogs and running (slowly) to bark at the gate when he sees a mail truck, cleaning up all his food, and giving me a big “Wuhwoooooo!” when I come home, so he just might!

The “Editor’s note” picture for the first few years of Whole Dog Journal, with Nancy and Rupert. © Nancy Kerns

Twenty-five years of writing something personal about my dogs for this page, two “heart dog” lifetimes. Wow.

Eli and Rupert both were pressed into service as models for the magazine from its first year. This photo is from a 1998 article about hand-held heat-generating pads that can be used to hold over and massage a dog’s achy muscles. © Nancy Kerns

As I write this, I’m putting plans in place for a friend to care for Otto and almost 1-year-old Boone while I’m out of town for my son’s wedding. I’ve rented a house where my extended family can all stay together over a long weekend of wedding-related fun. My now 7-year-old dog Woody gets to join us in the rented home, because he’s my most dependable dog with kids. He loves, loves, loves little kids; he rivals the famous (fictional) Carl in that respect. We’ll have 1-year old and 6-year-old grandsons in the house, and a 4-year-old great nephew. And we’ll go to the beach together! Woody’s going to think he’s gone to heaven.

Only the soon-to-be-married couple are allowed to bring a dog to the wedding site, a beautiful outdoor location in the coastal redwoods. I know that Cole, my son’s hound – his first “own” dog – will be a perfect gentleman at the wedding. My son and his bride are some of the best dog owners I know. I am confident that when they have children, they will be the best parents I know, too – just based on how great they are with Cole: attentive, active, warm, and fun-loving. And Cole will be a terrific big “brother.” He’s practiced with their friends’ babies for a few years; he’s great at cleaning baby faces and retrieving baby toys.

Eli and his wife Natasha are terrific dog owners, and Cole is going to be a great big “brother” someday. ©Nancy Kerns

Time marches on. If we’re lucky, it allows us to continue to learn, enjoy our work, expand our families – human and canine – and accept our losses with grace. I’ve been incredibly lucky – and I’m so grateful to you for your support of our work, for your interest in learning more about our canine friends, and for allowing me to share my family – human and canine – with you. Here’s to more time, learning, and love!