Stories I’ve Made Up About My Rescue Dog’s Past Life

Here is a list of things we know for sure about our rescue dog, Rowlf:

  • part Golden Retriever
  • picked up as a stray, spent a few weeks in a shelter
  • loves getting petted more than he loves food
  • loves walks more than he loves getting petted
  • sleeps 12 to 14 hours per day

Here is a list of things we think might be true:

  • is around 6 years old
  • may have had a tall man be violent to him in the past
  • potentially handsomest dog ever

And here is a list of possible stories I’ve made up to explain the six-year gap of his life we know nothing about:

Rowlf lived with a family for almost all of his first six years, and a tall man in the family was a jerk to him, so one day Rowlf jumped the fence and left, taking a chance that a better life might be out there. Picked up by animal control a few days later, he lived in a shelter for a couple weeks, then with a foster family, before he met a couple who worked from home and could spend several hours a day petting him with at least one of their free hands.

Rowlf T. Dog, a ramblin man with reddish-brown fur and floppy ears, was on his own for six years, bouncing from town to town, seeing the country and partying with whoever would join him. One night in Colorado—and he still isn’t sure what happened that night—he blacked out and was picked up by animal control. In the shelter, he hit rock bottom and realized he needed to change. He vowed to become a nice, adorable adult dog, and with a few weeks, met the man and woman who knew nothing of his past but were willing to give him a comfortable home where he could deposit clumps of fur literally everywhere.

Following a bizarre litter mix-up, Rowlf was raised by wolves, who had taken him on as one of their own for several years. Approaching his sixth birthday, the wolves said to Rowlf, “We need to talk. We think you’re great, but you’re really much too nice. We think you might not actually be a wolf, but a … this is hard to say … a dog. And you might be better off accepting that, and finding some humans to hang out with.” Rowlf was crestfallen, but in his heart, knew the truth. He made his way south, and eventually found a couple who preferred nice dogs to wolves.

It was just another day at the refinery until just before noon, when an explosion changed everything. There were no survivors, except for a lone golden retriever mix named Rowlf, who, through exposure to chemicals, developed a superpower: he would be the friendliest, most affectionate, but also most chill dog ever. As superpowers go, it wasn’t exactly Hollywood material, but it seemed to work for the humans who took him in.

Rowlf T. Dog, a Texas Ranger and martial arts expert, prefers to work alone, but chooses to help a state trooper who’s looking for the person behind a hijacking of a U.S. Army convoy. The two join forces with an FBI agent and their search leads them to Rawley Wilkes, a drug and arms trafficker capable of matching hand-to-hand combat with Rowlf—almost. After dispatching Wilkes, Rowlf settles down with a nice couple in Colorado and takes lots of naps.

Basically the plots of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, but Luke Skywalker is Rowlf, a golden retriever mix who finds out he is a Jedi, and then instead of finding out Darth Vader is his father, finds out that my wife and I are his humans. Except we do not cut off his hand/paw with a lightsaber.


Dozens more stories like this one are in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.