A black Lab mix named Blackie is often credited with bringing Windermere residents Bill and Rosemary Ford together.
WINDERMERE The running joke is that Rosemary Ford married her husband, Bill, because her dog liked him.
The two have been married for 11 years now and have three children — Will, 10; Stevie, 9; and Ben, 6. But their story starts with a nearly 14-year-old black Labrador Retriever mix named Blackie.
Rosemary’s first job out of college was teaching at the lower school at Admiral Farragut Academy — a military boarding school in St. Petersburg. She lived in faculty apartment housing and had worked there for a year when Bill, who had worked there previously, returned as assistant headmaster and football coach and moved in to the apartment next door.
“We really didn’t interact,” Rosemary remembers. “He would have his friends over and play his music and they would go out. I would talk on the phone to my mom and be like, ‘This guy next door is so annoying!’”
“It was the nicest way to fall in love. He loves Bill so much to this day, but Blackie is still my dog.” — Rosemary Ford
When she first got to the school, she was lonely and had just broken up with her boyfriend. Because she was nervous about living on her own, she adopted Blackie from the local animal shelter.
Although Blackie loved her, Rosemary soon discovered he didn’t take kindly to men. He would nip at the heels of any man who tried to come between the two of them, and the only man he seemed to like was her father.
Once, when a maintenance man came to fix her window and take pieces out of it, Blackie got defensive and bit him. One day when she was teaching, her apartment flooded, and the worker refused to go into her apartment without her there.
“Bill had been around and said Blackie could come and stay in his office, and I said, ‘You don’t understand: He doesn’t like men,’” Rosemary said. “Bill was like, ‘No it’ll be OK,’ and I said OK, because he was so overly confident and cocky that Blackie was going to love him. So he kept him in there for the rest of the day, and really from then on, they were good friends.”
Their friendship began there, with Bill watching Blackie on occasion and joining the two on walks. The two started dating after talking and spending more time together, and when they got married, Blackie was the ring bearer.
“It was the nicest way to fall in love,” Rosemary said. “He loves Bill so much to this day, but Blackie is still my dog.”
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].