For the past five years I have had trouble writing about this touchy subject. I am still going to have trouble but I want to get through this. First let me tell you it is about a dog, a Dalmatian that we bought, after we watched the Disney flick, you guessed it, 101 Dalmatians. I know many of you don’t think of a pet as one of the family but some of you do and this is for you guys as well as me. We had some named picked out. My wife and kids wanted Pongo like the dog in the movie. I picked names like Dice, Domino, Speck, and Freckles but was voted down for the name Pongo.
This dog was the pick of the litter, and by this I mean he was the puppy that was twice the size of all the others. Right off the bat we should have figured this male dynamo was going to be trouble. He was attacking all the paper plates in the pet store. I just wrote that off to the way the dogs were fed there. The ride home was a disaster because he was tooting and smelling up the car something awful. Once in the home he started attacking my daughter who was only eleven at the time. My wife was also a victim of his biting and pawing which again was written off as puppy play. Needless to say, after a chewed floor and a pawed door were repaired we decided to take him to a vet in Jersey. Remaining nameless this vet was supposed to be the best in the world. Immediately knew he just hated this breed. He took his fore finger and thumb and jabbed the pup in its tummy as hard as he could and when the dog went to bite him he recommended he be put down as soon as possible. I refused to do this because if he would have done what he did to my tummy I would have bitten this veterinarian also. We took the dog back home and decided that a trainer was needed. The pup, now weighing well over forty pounds was uncontrollable and we went to a recommended trainer named Russ. The dog pulled me into the training area. Russ slipped the collar off this dog’s neck and replaced it with a choker collar. The dog ran and Russ popped the collar one time and the dog ran towards him and sat by his side and the whole family was amazed at the immediate change in the dog.
We brought the dog home and started his lessons and the change started to happen. Not only was this dog a rehabilitated criminal, he was turning into a very smart dog. Training took about a month and now this one year old pup was a one hundred and ten pound huge doggie. He would do things as if this training unlocked something in his brain. If he needed water he would go into the kitchen and click the water dish with his nails on his paws. If he wanted a carrot, (we never gave our pets saw dust bones for treats) he would open the fridge and take one then close the door. This was one smart animal. He knew all of his commands and any variation. I for one was amazed by this change and remembering the vet we took him to I wondered how he became a vet at all.
Now a real family dog he went everywhere with us as did the kids. He was bigger then my kids at that time and actually was treated as one of the family. Pongo was not only smart but a very polite dog. When he needed to make he would stand by the back door of the house and knock one time. I would let him out and when he finished his business he barked only once so he would never annoy the neighbors. Once, the backyard gate was accidentally left opened. The dog left the yard and wondered the neighborhood, I know because I was watching from the front door. I watched him walk to a neighbor’s yard and look around then walk to the next. He went to get back in our yard but the gate was now closed due to the spring action in the hinges. He then walked to our front door and actually got up on his hind legs and pushed the doorbell. No one could have asked for a smarter pet or a better one. Oh yeah, I was watching a story about Lassie with Dal by my side. The trainer on the TV was showing us how he trained Lassie how to wave bye bye. My dog takes his paw and with only his hand part waved bye never using his whole arm like Lassie but only his paw like humans would. On command from that point forward he would wave bye when asked.
One of the perks for being the best pet in the world was his sleeping quarters. Yes he was now sleeping in my bed. My wife was comfortable on one half of the bed and Pongo on the other. I was lucky if I got the edge of the bed and learned to balance myself very well. I never really minded the sleeping arrangements but on cold nights would it have killed him to let me have a little blanket?
Ok, so you all have had pets like this one. What is the big deal? Well this dog and I understood each other and went through twelve years as best friends.
One night while the family was staying in a hotel in North Carolina I was awaken by my Dal at three in the morning. He was licking my nose. Once up but groggy, I offered my bed to him. He fell over and died as if he just needed to say "I have to go now." He looked at me for a second and passed away. I will never forget this pup that entered our home as a terror and left a champ. This is all I can write about this at the moment for it is still painful to remember but I needed to do this. I need a tissue and I will try again in a few years and as always thanks for the read.