Man moves down so older dog can walk in comfort
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By Jud Snyder  November 21, 2012 10:21 am

People move from one domicile to another for all sorts of reasons: better mortgage deal, lower rent, house too small, too big, too urban or too rural or they find a better neighborhood. But how many people move to another home to please their dog? Now there’s a rare reason to add to the list.
Ray Johnson did this.
He’s a tall, strapping 62-year old who lives in Copeland Creek senior apartment complex on Enterprise Drive in Rohnert Park. His faithful companion is Maggie, a Labrador and Dalmatian mix, mostly black with a white muzzle and a bit of white here and there.
“I was living elsewhere in Sonoma County and wanted to get a dog,” Johnson relates. “I saw an ad about dogs for sale in the newspaper for Maggie and the rest of her litter. The Labrador-Dalmatian mix sounded like a good combination, so I bought Maggie for $50. She was already 4 years old, housebroken and partially trained. Six months later, we moved to Copeland Creek.
“I had to get special permission to allow her in. They allow small dogs, cats, caged birds and parrots, but Maggie’s a big dog.”
(Copeland Creek gets federal funds and small animals are permitted. There must be about 15 mini-Poodles, Shih Tzus, Dachshunds, Pomeranian, Chihuahuas and their mixes residing with their owners at Copeland Creek, along with uncounted cats who are nocturnal animals and keep a low profile).
Maggie’s friendly with all of ‘em, and of course, with their owners as well.
“I’ve had Maggie for 15 years now. That means she’s 19 years old,” he continued.  “We were living on the second floor, and I noticed a few months ago she was reluctant to climb the stairs to our apartment. I had to coax her and help her to go up the stairs by pushing her rear end to make it easier. She also developed a fatty tumor on her abdomen, which had to be removed.
”We always did a lot of walking, several times a day, but those stairs were getting to be a real challenge for her.
“I decided the best thing to do was to move into a ground floor apartment,” Johnson added. “At first, she wasn’t quite sure about the new digs. But after a few days, she’s settled in and I’m sure she doesn’t miss climbing the stairs at all.”
Johnson’s a former pro surfer
Johnson himself has an interesting background. Born and raised in San Diego, he went to schools there, enrolled at San Diego State University and earned a BA degree in a variety of subjects like history, art and political science.
He also became a professional surfer, a typical occupation for a husky San Diegan. His skills in this pursuit took him to Hawaii, Australia, up and down the California and Oregon coasts to compete with other surfers for prize money.
He discovered Sonoma County when he visited friends in Timber Cove, moved here and worked for Friedman Bros. Hardware for 15 years.
Married and then divorced, he has two stepchildren and two step-grandchildren living in Oregon he frequently visits, along with Maggie. His father was an aeronautical engineer, and his mother was an antique dealer.
“The veterinarian told me Maggie has mild arthritis, but she has a strong heart for her age and is extremely healthy. She doesn’t have hip dysplasia and doesn’t need a special diet.”
Maggie’s ever-wagging tail is a telltale sign she’s enjoying her stair-less lifestyle. She’ll put her head on your lap, gaze directly in your eyes until you give in and hand her a dog biscuit Johnson always has handy.
“I sometimes take Maggie to Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville for a romp in the water. She loves it but tires easily. We often visit with friends in our former neighborhood here in Copeland Creek, and they really spoil her.”

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