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A Man’s Best Friend: Lifelong Memories are Made at the Preserve

By Bob Collins, Program Manager

This sign, honoring Wilma Rudolf Tucker as “a Damn Good Dog,” has been at the Pasture Point beach area at the James Farm Ecological Preserve since the 1990s. Wilma was a Cairn Terrier.

For the 22 years (plus or minus) that I’ve been visiting the Preserve, I’ve noted that Wilma Rudolf Tucker was “a Damn Good Dog.” A sign at the Pasture Point beach area told me so.

Wilma, it turns out, was a Cairn Terrier (think Toto from Wizard of Oz) who died in 1990. In tracking down her human, I can confirm she was, indeed, a damn good dog.

After three decades in the open elements, though, that sign honoring Wilma’s memory was in desperate need of repair. A big thank you goes out to Jerry Daugherty for refurbishing it and helping return it to its rightful place, a place where people like me have always loved to bring their furry, four-legged friends.

Oban, also known as OB, was a damn good dog.

I’m sentimental about dogs lately because I recently lost my best friend, Oban (the collie), who also was a damn good dog. “OB” and I frequented the James Farm Ecological Preserve together for more than 11 years. He, like me, became one of the many regulars finding solace along the Preserve’s shoreline and shaded forests.

Now, when I see dogs out there, especially puppies, there’s a sense of serenity. Seeing them enjoy the Preserve with their humans reminds me of the many wonderful adventures I shared with OB.

I remember one of his first adventures out there vividly, partly because at the time there was a local newspaper article that questioned the future of dogs at the Preserve. Back then, as is the case now, there are some people who mistakenly think the Preserve is a free-range dog park (it is not, but dogs on a leash are more than welcome).

According to my memory, there had been increasing conflicts, unattended “messes,” and the like that sparked the idea that dogs might be banned from the Preserve. I like to remember that the dog community responded positively. And, once I became property manager in 2012, I worked (sometimes with OB at my side) to positively reinforce proper dog etiquette.

I’m not going to list what that etiquette is here; responsible dog-lovers know what it is. But what I am going to do is ask the dog community at the Preserve honor the memory of Wilma, Oban, and countless other best friends by being respectful of the Preserve and your fellow visitors.

OB was indeed this man’s best friend. He helped me live through unemployment, illness, and a pandemic. No plans on a puppy, but, if there is one in my future, you’ll again see me on adventures with “dog as my co-pilot” at the Preserve.

Oban, also known as OB, was a regular at the Preserve.

About the Author

Bob Collins

Bob Collins is the Program Manager at the Center for the Inland Bays. Some of his duties include: property manager for the James Farm Ecological Preserve, the Building for Our Bays, and the CIB’s boats and vehicles; program manager for the Don’t Chuck Your Shucks, Oyster Gardening programs; implementation manager for various restoration projects; staff liaison for the Water Use Plan Implementation Committee.

A Bethany Beach resident since 1990, he lives with his wife Kelly, daughter Carly and collie Oban. He enjoys paddling and running (with Oban) when not preaching the gospel of fishable/ swimmable bays.


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