I love surprises. I didn’t imagine, and am truly mystified I love blogging.
Today, I celebrate my 200th post with a personal mystery story. As a kid, I loved mysteries. Still do. I want to know why dogs do the things they do.
At times, I suspect dogs of magical powers. The story I’m telling you today made me certain that dogs absolutely live tuned into a much bigger world than we do.
For four years, we didn’t have a dog. Our cat Blackie, sat on fences watching birds. Then we got new neighbors. Dave and Marion had no children. I went crazy over their black and tan German Shepherd, Rocky. He stood straight and solid like Rin Tin Tin, but was sweetly playful as a kitten. Dave enjoyed showing Rocky’s willingness to sit, down, stay, jump, and crawl.
The dog even let Dave pick him up like a baby.
I began taking Rocky for long walks because our neighbors worked full-time. Soon, my Dad and Dave built a gate in our shared fence. Being young, Rocky had plenty of energy and love for both families.
That year in fourth grade, my best friend moved far from me. And then, I broke my arm. Being with Rocky helped ease those pains.
The California central valley tends to bake during summer. One hot July evening, my Dad brought home a little white dog. Our new mutt stood taller than a Chihuahua and lower than a Cocker Spaniel. With floppy puppy ears, a coppery-tan patch over one eye and ear, she had an offbeat sense of humor to match her odd coloring. Many dogs won’t risk looking new people in the eye, but she stood her ground with any sized man or beast.
I can’t recall who named her—Pizza. The name fit her one-of-a-kind looks. Much to all of our amazement, Rocky the goofy giant and Pizza the petite became best friends.
They ran ruts in our back lawn, wrestled and licked each other’s teeth. If Rocky stepped on Pizza when they played, he apologized, lowering himself to show he never mean to hurt or to scare her.
Dad adored dogs. We hadn’t Pizza more than a year when Dad had to take a job far in the northwestern forests. He could only come home on weekends. At that a time, long distance phone calls cost too much. So Dad would phone, but mom would refuse the call. This way, she knew he had arrived safely. Week after week, he missed us.
One week, Dad took Pizza with him.
After taking our morning walk along the Sacramento River, I let Rocky rest. That Wednesday afternoon when I went outside to check on him, something wasn’t right.
As I stroked Rocky’s black and tan fur, he groaned. I sat in the grass beside him, talking to him. I told him his friend, Pizza would be coming home Friday. I tried getting him on his feet. Rocky refused to stand. I brought him a fresh bowl of water. He wouldn’t drink. I began worrying. His beautiful prick ears lay low. He stretched out, stiffly as if stricken or wounded. The dog never raised his head or looked at me. All afternoon, he showed no interest in dog treats or food.
That evening, Dave had to carry Rocky home. I asked him, “Is he sick?”
Dave said, “He’s not shivering. No sign of fever.”
The next day, Rocky seemed worse. He drank no water. Never looked at food. He did not raise his head when I held up his leash for a walk. He sighed and moaned, his eyes shut tightly.
Then I felt scared. Never saw a dog looking so sad. I stayed with him, hour after hour, urging him to lap a little water. I wet his head and fur to keep him cool in the heat. He rarely opened his eyes. I held his head and shoulders.
That Thursday night after Dave took Rocky home, Mom answered the phone.
My Dad insisted that she accept a long distance charge. When she hung up, Mom sat with us at the kitchen table. Our macaroni and cheese melted into garden-red tomato slices.
Mom pursed her lips, looking sad. “Girls, your Dad wanted you to know. Oh…I don’t know how to say it. Pizza died.”
“Pizza?” I said, “No, she’s young. She wouldn’t die—.”
Mom added, “Yesterday, she drowned in the river while your Dad was fishing.”
My sister burst into tears. All of us cried. Our noodles and cheese got cold. Mom had to scrapped our plates into the garbage.
I slipped into the backyard. Crying, I sat in a chair, knees tucked up. I wanted to be a tiny ball of nothing. Yesterday? I thought. “Yesterday was Wednesday.” The very same day Rocky began moaning. I wonder, did he know? Rocky looked like he’d lost his best friend. Then I feel sure. Somehow he knew the moment Pizza died.
I have never figured this out. But I’m sure that Rocky knew and mourned his little friend, Pizza.
If a dog ever looked heartbroken, Rocky did.
I don’t believe in ESP. I believe we don’t know everything. Science keeps proving things exist in nature beyond our wildest dreams. I hope someday, someone will help me understand how Rocky knew.
What has your dog done to make you think he knows more than you do?
I love my readers’ stories.