Doak is grandson Matt’s black Lab who just celebrated his fifth birthday. Doak lives in Florida and is named after the Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University, where Matt graduated in May 2016.

Of course, Gus, our golden retriever, is the elder statesman in the household and has fought his way to keep that position. He has been a patient and sort-of-loving guide for this pup who was in perpetual motion from the moment he was carried through the door—he fit comfortably in Matt’s hand.

I visited shortly after Doak arrived: tiny cuteness personified, he adopted Gus as his own personal island and therefore climbed all over him, subjected him to pulls, chewed ears, nipped tail and soft cuddles. Doak was such fun to watch and even more special when I held him while he nipped at my ear, providing some respite for Gus!

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Over the years, I’ve watched an amazing and cool relationship between these beloved pets. They love to chase each other in the back yard; they have numerous tugs of war over “squeaky” toys and they sleep side by side—forever friends. 

Doak shows respect for Gus. When Grandmopps visits, these doggies know treats will be coming more frequently. First, they will try to come in the back door together—doesn’t work, guys; you’re too big. One finally gets through (usually Gus) and they quietly sit in front of me. Doak is always behind Gus—always! As I give Gus his cookies, Doak sits drooling! We get such a kick out of this performance: he won’t move a muscle while he waits, but he drools up a storm.

About a year ago during a visit, I awoke one morning with a sore throat—I have to remember to take Airborne! For the next few days, I coughed and sneezed, blew my nose and was generally miserable. I found comfort bundled up in the recliner under a warm blanket, with a mug of tea and a box of tissues. The crowning touch? Gus and Doak were curled up at my feet providing that warm, cozy and fuzzy feeling one desperately needs when ill.

In celebration of Doak’s special day, Matt Sr. posted on Facebook a video of Doak’s very first romp in the back yard—he was so tiny, the grass almost covered him. But he pushed on—nibbling on a few blades of grass—until he got to the walkway. Also posted was the current birthday photo: The “boys” are wearing birthday hats and the expression on Gus’s face is one of exaggerated suffering:  “I’m just doing this for the kid!”

And so Doak, His Doakness, Prince of Doakness, thank you for your gift of love, loyalty and friendship to our family. An even bigger thank you for being Gus’s BFF.

Very soon, Grandmopps will be down with a fresh box of cookies!

Ruthann can be reached at