Man’s Best Friend

In my recent series on the 1906 earthquake, I related Ralph Rambo’s memories of the day. I especially liked the episode of how he adopted the Doyle School dog after discovering him shivering on the front stoop of the school. Calling the dog, he jumped into the buggy, driven by Ralph’s father, and the dog stayed with them until he died many years later.

I am reminded of my first dog, Teddy, a white, mixed-breed Alaskan Spitz. Teddy was given to me by Mrs. Hubble, my piano teacher, and he followed me home one day after a music lesson. I guess he followed me home because of the short cotton-rope leash around his neck! Arriving home, I was told to take him back, but my pleading, “Aw gee ma, can’t I keep him” finally prevailed, and my life-long love affair with dogs began. There have been many dogs in my life over the years, and I have loved them all.

Two I remember well belonged to John Steinbeck when he lived in the hills above Los Gatos in the late 1930s. It was during my senior year at Los Gatos High School where one of my favorite classes was journalism. Mrs. Mendenhall, a very proper Victorian-principled lady, gave each of our class members the assignment of acquiring an interview. Most of my classmates interviewed a local bank manager or insurance agent, but I set out for a bigger catch. Steinbeck had recently finished The Grapes of Wrath. As I approached his small home, two giant dogs escorted me to his front door. I was glad that I liked dogs and showed no fear, for if I had, I fear that I would have been dog meat (there will be a future column about my interview with Steinbeck).

Dogs that I would have liked to have known were the ones that accompanied Fr. Bernard Hubbard, the “Glacier Priest,” on his Alaskan explorations prior to World War II. His two favorites, Katamai and Mageik, were malamutes, and he so loved the dogs that he had them stuffed and mounted and they are currently stored in the archives of the University of Santa Clara.

My own dog is Traveler, a wonderful red golden retriever. His is a most friendly animal and my best companion. One of the sad things about a beloved dog is that their lifespan is so much shorter than ours, begging the question: where do you bury them? There is only one place to bury them and that is in your heart!

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