Two Dogs Named Buck

I’d like to tell you about two dogs named “Buck.” The first one is widely known because he was the lead character in the famous book, “The Call of the Wild,” by Jack London.

The book, as you remember, featured Buck’s experiences in the famous gold rush in Alaska and the Yukon. Perhaps you didn’t realize that the book was written right here in Santa Clara on the grounds of what is now the Carmelite monastery. Then, it was the ranch of Judge Bond on the western end of Franklin Street. It was on the porch of the Jamison Brown house where the book was written and London describes the location in the text:

“Buck lived at a big house in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley, Judge Miller’s place it was called. It stood back from the road, half hidden around the trees, through which glimpses could be caught of the wide, cool veranda that ran around its four sides.”

According to the book, “Buck was put aboard a freight train at College Park Station” (where Bellarmine is today).

London had gathered his background material for “The Call of the Wild” when he was in Alaska, particularly in the far-north frontier town of Nome. Nome was a real rough-and-ready gold rush town, and London was part of the rough-and-ready crowd. My neighbor, Neil Lockley, is the grandson of Fred Lockley. Fred and a partner were the men who started the first free mail delivery in Nome during the same gold rush. According to family legend, there was many a time that Fred Lockley pulled a drunken London out of a Nome bar and saved his life. Lockley and London remained friends during their lives.

The other Buck was another of my dog friends. He belonged to my son, Dave, who really loved dogs. How Dave acquired him I don’t remember, but Buck would come to work with him at the print shop, which really wasn’t a fitting place for a huge, 150-pound Grand Bernese Mountain dog. The Bernese Mountain dogs originally came to Switzerland with Hannibal and were later used by the Swiss for rescue.

Buck and I became great friends and I was detailed most days to take him to a friend’s enclosed yard where he could roam. When I transported Buck from the print shop to his running area on Lenzen Avenue, he would try to sit on my lap and supervise my driving. If I changed routes, he would become immediately upset until I got back to what he recognized as the correct and shortest route.

Buck later developed cancer and, as I wrote before, the only place to bury your dog is in your heart.

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