Did you have a dog when you were young? Here’s a story about a very special, beautiful dog.
One day when I was about 8 years old, I was walking the familiar route to my home from primary school. I walked past the biscuit factory, through an empty section and into the street that bordered the creek and led towards the grove where I lived. Suddenly a dog came out of the trees that edged the creek and ran towards me.
I was a bit afraid of dogs. If I took another route home, I passed the house where the Bolton family lived. They had a big German Shepherd dog named Prince who had a ferocious bark and strong, sharp teeth. Even though Prince knew who I was as I sometimes passed his house if I walked home with Hera, my friend from the Marae; whenever he saw me, he would bark vigorously and angrily. He was very, very scary. I was only a little girl, but Prince didn’t care. He barked like I was a burglar going to rob his house. I always kept on the other side of the road if I had to pass the Bolton’s house.
‘Hello fellow’, I said nervously.
The dog leapt up at me with his paws on my school uniform, put his head close to me and looked at me with his long pink tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. I nearly died of shock and I thought he was going to bite my face, but instead he was smiling happily at me with his stumpy tail wagging vigorously. I knew this dog wasn’t going to hurt me.
I patted his head and the dog wriggled happily.
What a beautiful dog he was. He was a golden Cocker Spaniel with glossy golden fur, long ears with wavy curls and a tuft of pale
honey coloured hair on the top of his head. He had no collar.
‘What a gorgeous dog you are’, I exclaimed.
The dog gambled around me. He almost danced in excitement. I called to him.
‘Here, doggie dog’. I said.
He came over to me, smiling and jumped up at me again for another pat. He was the most beautiful dog I’ve ever seen. Nothing like Prince. I looked around to see his owner but there was no one except me.
‘Go home’, I said. ‘Off you go’.
But the dog didn’t go. He stayed with me. When I started walking home again, he followed me.
‘Off you go, Goldie’, I said suddenly naming him, but he continued happily following me.
When I got home, Mum saw me with the dog.
‘Hello, Susan’, she said, ‘Who’s this?’
I told Mum about meeting Goldie and asked her if I could keep him.
‘I don’t think so’, said Mum. ‘Somebody owns him and will be missing him. We’ll keep him until we find his owner’.
I was happy with that because I thought that maybe no one owned him or if they did, wouldn’t want him back.
Goldie and I became great friends. He had to sleep in the washhouse that night, but the next day – a Saturday, I played with him outside and showed him off to my neighbourhood friends. He chased a ball when I threw it, ran beside me when I ran and sat with me on the warm footpath near the back door. He didn’t talk or tease. He just looked at me with adoring eyes. I fell in love.
On Monday Mum put in advertisement with our phone number in the ‘Lost and Found’ column of the evening paper. Three days later, Mum told me a man rang and said he would be coming around that evening. After dinner that night there was a knock on the front door. Dad opened the door and at the sound of voices, Goldie excitedly ran to the door.
‘Oh no’, I thought.
Dad came into the lounge with a man in his thirties who he introduced as Mr O’Neil. Goldie was jumping around Mr O’Neil who said in a happy voice,
‘Go on with you, Pete. Down boy’.
Goldie was Pete and he belonged to this man. I felt miserable.
Mr O’Neil explained that Pete had been tied up outside while he and his family went to the grocery shop. Pete had slipped out of his collar and obviously run off after them. Mr O’Neil said that he and his wife had two little boys aged three and four who were missing Pete dreadfully. The family had been knocking on neighbour’s doors and looking everywhere for him. He said his little boys would be so happy to have Pete back home again.
I was so sad. I’d miss Pete – or Goldie as I still thought of him.
Mr O’Neil said I could come around to his house anytime to take Pete for a walk. Sadly, I gave Goldie a hug and a kiss on the tuft of hair on his head and he licked my face. Mr O’Neil put his collar on him and took him out the front door to his car.
I did take Pete for some walks and he was always happy to see me, but it wasn’t the same anymore. Goldie was Pete and he belonged to other people.
However, Mum and Dad, realising the happiness I’d had with this lovely animal, gave me a fat, little, black puppy the following Christmas. I named her ‘Bonny’ – Scottish for beautiful. Bonny became a treasured family member and I loved her dearly.
But I never forgot Goldie. I was grateful to him for dispelling my fear of dogs and encouraging my parents to give me my Bonny.