Willis was the male terrier-mix dog of John Meissner of Portland, Oregon. We met in August of 1981 when I went to visit at my friend Rod Hebrank's house one night. They had just taken in a stray dog who then had a litter of puppies. When I entered the house, Rod's mother said "Hey Meissner, you want a dog?" I looked in the box at all the dogs, which were all black and white, except for Willis, who was all black. Even at an early age, Willis stood out from the crowd!

Willis then became my constant companion, traveling all over the country with me, living in such exotic places as Oak Grove, Lincoln City, Coos Bay, Tillamook and Rockaway Beach in Oregon-Susanville and Bakersfield in California, Bismarck, North Dakota, Billings, Montana and Shreveport, Louisiana. Willis was a real mellow, lovable dog. He really enjoyed going for car rides, walks on the beach, going to baseball games I umpired, he even went to a high school basketball game once! He also went to a hockey practice when we lived in Billings. Anywhere I went is where he wanted to be.

I have been in broadcasting since 1980, and have incorporated Willis into my show at several different stations as 'Willis the Wonder Weather Dog'. He even sang background for Elvis on 'Hound Dog' once! My two favorite Willis stories are about the time he went to a baseball game I umpired and the people selling tickets offered to watch him for me. They told me after the game that every time I yelled 'strike', he'd look up.

Then there was the time several members of my family were assisting my father in removing an old car from his property. As we were standing along side the road for my brother-in-laws' son to turn around and come back to hook on to the old car, an inattentive driver almost caused a wreck. Willis, ever the observant 'protector puppy', barked in warning, while I was holding him! What made it even more amazing, was the fact that it was the first time I had heard him bark in over a year!

He was an amazing dog and truly the best friend I have ever had. As I always liked to say-"He's the greatest dog in the history of dog and the handsomest dog in all of dogdom!" Willis developed a tumor between his right eye and ear, locking his jaw shut and making him unable to eat. After he lost 7 or 8 pounds, it became apparent he would not get any better. I then made the hardest decision of my life, to have him euphonized. The procedure was performed on June 13th, 1997 at the Caddo Animal Clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana and he was cremated at Pet Haven Cemetery and Crematory in Troup, Texas later that same day.

As time goes by, the pain of losing Willis lessens. But, the memories I have of my best friend ever, in his photo album, the video, his web site and my memory, are as vivid and real as ever. And, those memories will never fade in intensity. I now have a Miniature Schnauzer named Meggie and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Freckles. They are good dogs whom I love very much, but there'll never be another Willis! To him I say: "Thank you Willis for being my dog. I love you very much and I look forward to seeing you at the Rainbow Bridge one day. I love you boy!"


To see more pictures of Willis and his family, visit his original page at http://www.raybartley.com/willis.html.

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