Dog

Dog came into my life the year after Mackey died. Our best guess is that he was half Labrador and half Great Dane. He was part of a litter of puppies delivered to the local pound. A friend of my step father got him from the pound thinking he was a pure bred Labrador retriever. When a Lab owning friend of his pointed out that the puppy was either a lab cross or a poor quality Lab he no longer wanted the puppy. My dad brought him home to be the family dog to replace Mackey.

Dog was black with a white patch on his chest and eventually grew to be about 27 -28 inches tall at the shoulder. He was about half grown when he came to our house and once again I got the responsibility of caring for him. Dog never got a real name at his previous house. He was just The Dog. And somehow when he came to my parent's house, that became his name.

Like Mackey, he lived in the garage and back yard. But when I got my drivers license he went with me just about everywhere. I have always been a loner and I felt safer with him walking beside me in the woods and on the beaches. I discovered he was excellent company on our walks.

I would describe Dog as being friendly, low in aggression but insistent on being a pack leader around other dogs. He did not want to fight to take over the top spot. He just assumed it and was willing to share it. But there were other dogs who wanted to be higher on the level than him and became aggressive about it. I have never seen Dog start a fight, but I did have to help separate him from occasional fights started by other dogs. I learned to try to judge other male dogs and keep him away from ones that looked like they would be aggressive.

If I would to use one word to describe his personality it would be Pride. He took pride in everything he did and tried to do everything well.

Dog lived to retrieve and he did it very well. The bigger the stick the better. He preferred small rail road ties or large branches. If you threw a stick he didn't deem worthy of his efforts, after locating it and judging it unfit, he would look around and select a stick that was to his liking.

If you were throwing a stick he deemed acceptable, you could not throw it in a place where he could not locate it. He might not be able to reach it but he would locate it and bring it back if at all possible. He amazed a lot of people by continually bringing back sticks thrown into dense high chaparral. He also never tired of retrieving and had been known to keep at it all day wearing out a succession of determined stick throwers.

When I moved away from home, I took Dog with me as a matter of course. I moved into a house on a working winery with some other people. Being one of the founding members of the group I had my own bedroom. Dog started living in the house and sharing my bedroom. I discovered that sharing the inside of the house with a pet opened up a new dimension of pet companionship.

I could not afford to stay in college until I got my degree so I alternated between working full time, saving money for school and going to school full time until I completed both of my degrees. During that time Dog and I lived in a lot of different places in a lot of situations. He was always there for me.

One place we moved into around 1970 had stood empty for a couple of years and required a lot of digging out to make livable. It had a very large mouse infestation. I got out the traps and Dog just went hunting. He was a very effective mouser having a total kill of around 30 mice by the time we moved out a year later.

In 1972 Dog and I shared a large Victorian with five other women and a Labrador retriever. I was a full time student at Moss Landing Marine lab at the time. One evening when we let the dogs out back before bed they were poisoned. A dog poisoner had struck several houses in North Salinas and our house unfortunately was one.

You never know when the last minute with your dog will be. This time there was nothing that I regretted other than his untimely demise and this dog shaped empty spot in my heart. The only thing left undone was the rest of his life and the additional love we would have shared.

Dog, around 1968

Rescued from the pound, then rescued again from someone who decided he didn't want a dog that was not purebred.

The first dog I lived with outside my parent's house.

He took pride in everything he did and impressed even the most jaded of stick throwers.

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