Hondo was a past pet...a magnificent golden retriever with an oblivious stare and a cheerful outlook on life, no matter the situation. It's difficult to express my longing for that dog, because the day we gave him away to a very nice family was the day I decided Hondo would be happier there, than he was with us. He spent cold winters outside, always huddled against the house or against his pen. The dog spent his time with my family by barking at the hot air balloon shaped as a pig and scaring the souls out of joggers.
The first year we had Hondo, we also had Rusty, his brother from the litter. At that time, they were only puppies. I often missed their small puppy form, because they were easier to manage and clean. When Rusty, a completely dominate, impossibly smart creature, was given away to a llama farmer because we couldn't handle it. (Not to mention that dog figured out how to open his own dog pen with his nose...) Hondo was left alone except for the possible play dates presented to him when the neighbors brought over his sisters.
The house I lived in when Hondo was in our possession had a big backyard that was opened to the other two backyards. Neighbor kids always played in our yard and vice versa. For the first few years of having Hondo, all of them, including Jonah who is my age, were scared of the poor dog. He was kept on a chain to prevent running off into the neighborhood since our yard didn't have a fence. The neighbors used the chain to their advantage. Hondo would try to play with them, jump on them, lick their faces, and because they were so scared, they would run away from him and the chain would reach its maximum length and show no mercy to Hondo's neck.
The neighbors and Hondo grew more reasonable as time went on. Soon we got Hondo a super long chain so he could roam further and be happier. The neighbors were no longer scared of him. There were those times when I would go outside under my dad's orders to let Hondo off the chain. When that happened, it was like announcing a bomb. "Hondo's being let off. Get the little ones to a high place."
Kids ran off to safety, the chain was unclipped from his collar, and like a lightning bolt, that dog was gone. I don't think I've ever seen a dog in that neighborhood (which for the record, was inhabited with pet dogs) run as fast as Hondo did. He was like a lightning bolt. It was hard to catch him when we had to. Our methods of lowering him back to his leash was by jingling the choker chain on his leash, or holding some sort of carnivorous substance. Otherwise, he'd think it a game and go hopping along like a rabbit in the woods; flower bed to flower bed, house to house.
He sniffed all kind of things and marked his territories in so many places. They were part of his game. He'd make us think we got him, but if we approached, he would bolt off again, even if he weren't finished with his business.
When Hondo was on the leash, it was a whole other adventure. Before we gave Rusty away, we took the two dogs on walks as often as we could manage, but in order to do so, I had to have an adult with me to manage Rusty. Hondo was incredibly strong, but Rusy was stronger. They were still pups, a year old, and so they were probably at their climax of strength at that point. However, even a few years later, Hondo was still just as strong and even though we had trained him to walk calmly with us in the middle of the street and to not dilly dally on small little plants, I was often caught in surprise with how strong he was.
I had to use my full body weight to hold him back from chasing a (forgive me) damn yapping chihuaha. The smallest of dogs had him bested. He was not the dominate kind. He would freeze where he was, ears perked, and listen to the dog that barked at us in the middle of the street until I was able to drag him away. Other than brief interactions with others of his species, he was a fairly good dog.
On walks I always played a game with him. I would try to grab his tail and sing in a babyish voice, "I got your tail!" Like a mother would to a baby saying, "I got your nose!" He would sit his butt down to the ground defiantly and say with his eyes, "Fine, you got me this time." We would start walking again, and when I would get closer to him, he'd put his butt back down and once again speak through his eyes, "You didn't get me that time!"
He hated the water. Sprinklers scared him, but the hose was worse, for whatever reason. Every time we (being my brothers and I) tried to give him a bath of some kind, he would cower in fear against his pen, trying to get away from us. We simply had to grab the chain and drag him back toward us. When we had him situated to the point where he couldn't go anywhere no matter how hard he tried, he would sit, glowering at me while I put the hose on soft and wetted down his body. The shampooing part he liked more than the water, but in the end, our attempts were in vain.
The minute I signaled he was done, he's shake it out all over me and run back to his cowering spot, where he would roll around in the dirt and grass as if we put some foreign contaminated toxins all over him. The smell must have been too much for his sensitive nose.
Hondo also hated going inside the laundry room on super cold nights. During the winter, we put him in the garage next to the cars so he could be warmer than staying outside in the negative temperatures. Sometimes it could get so cold that we had to put him in the small little hallway that connected the house and the garage; where we put the washer and dryer. It was convienent because it acted as a cage with it's two doors. Hondo, however, hated new things. In the mornings when my dad had to back out the car and get it warmed up, I had to hold Hondo inside the laundry room hallway so he wouldn't run off into the neighborhood again. It was so hard to get him inside. Once he was in, however, he was frozen, yet shaking like an earthquake. Shakes of fear, I take it. It broke my heart to see how scared he was, so I always murmured kind words to him when I sensed he needed it most.
When the garage door came down, I let him go back into the garage, where he felt safer. He didn't even like going into the garage during the winter. My brother's had to use a team of three to get him inside, I had to pull as hard as I could to get him inside. For whatever reason, he was so stubborn as to getting inside the garage. I think it might have been because of the two cars that were inside.
Whenever my dad grilled during the summers, Hondo would sit and bark at my dad to give him a peace offering such as a hotdog or a burger. Our dog was the left-over consumer. If I wanted to lay out in the grass and read, Hondo wouldn't leave me in peace. He would bark until I gave him attention.
So then came the day we gave Hondo away.
I cried. I cried the moment I closed the car door and looked through the window to see him awkwardly sitting on the car's seat. I cried as the car drove away, taking my beloved pet with it.
All that was left of him was his dog pen, his chewed up shoes, and his empty water bowl.
Will I ever get another dog when I'm older? Maybe, but it depends on the situation. I doubt I'll get a big dog like a Golden Retriever, because those dogs are pretty big and hard to deal with. That aside, Golden Retrievers are beautiful creatures. I personally think of them as the prettiest breed of dog I have ever seen, and I've seen a lot. Still, it'd be too much with school and work. I doubt I could ever deal with a little yapping thing, though. Maybe I won't go with a dog, but a pet snake? I've always wanted a pet snake. My future husband might not like it, but he won't have to hold it or feed it.
I know that it's hard to lose a pet you've loved for a long time. Ever since my family moved into this new house, I've felt periodic pangs of sadness. Why? I awake sometimes, thinking it might be my turn to go out into the cold and fill up his water bowl, let him out of the pen, and kiss his furry head good morning.
Then I realize, he's gone.