Hello, Mark – I am a devoted listener and also a person who can’t imagine my life without a dog in it.

When I was a teenager my family had a chihuahua named Poncho. He was large for a Chihuahua, about 10 lbs., and unlike many Chihuahuas rarely barked and loved everyone he met.

It seemed like Poncho loved my father, mother and me pretty much equally, but in truth I guess he was more devoted to my father. He knew when it was time for my father to get home from work and would jump up on the sofa and watch out the window until he saw my father’s car turn the corner onto our street. Then his tail started wagging so hard it would somtimes knock him off the back of the sofa. My dad could never sneak home and surprise him.

My mother always claimed she never cared a thing in the world about that dog, but if he ever got sick or injured, she was the one who nursed him back to health. When he was hurt, she would fix him all the food he loved – mainly fried chicken livers and gizzards, and cut them up into bite-sized portions for him and watch him like a mother hen. Once, I even caught him sleeping in bed with her so she could keep an eye on him.

In 1965 I dropped out of the University of Oklahoma and joined the Marine Corps. After boot camp, I came home on leave before heading for Vietnam. Ponco was all over me when I got home. For several days everywhere I went, he went. I loved that little dog.

I was wounded in Vietnam and spent about four months in various Navy hospitals. In total, I was away from home for about a year and a half. All the time I was away I thought about my family and friends. And my dog.

Finally, I was released from the hospital a granted a 30 day leave before reporting to my new duty station at Camp Lejeune, NC. When I got home I walked through the door and there was Poncho, standing in the middle of the living room with my mother. But he didn’t come to greet me like I expected he would. He just looked at me. And he wouldn’t come to me. But he couldn’t keep his eyes off of me. Finally, after maybe 15-20 minutes, his eyes lit up and he came tearing across the room and jumped up into my arms and started licking my face. He had never done that before. He wasn’t a licker. I laid down on the floor with him and hugged and kissed him and marveled at how much that little dog meant to me.

After the Marine Corps, I returned to school and then married. My new wife and I moved to Ft. Myers, FL. My parents always kept me up to date on Poncho, and eventually on his failing health. He went totally deaf at first, but seemed healthy, otherwise. He still jumped up on the sofa to wach for my father to come home.

Finally, his eyesight failed when he was about 14 years old, and he went blind. My father knew it was time to let him go. He didn’t call me until it was over, because he knew how much it was going to hurt me. When he called, he told me when he took Poncho on his last car ride and was carrying him in his arms up the sidewalk to the veterinarian’s office Poncho put his head on his neck and that’s when he almost turned around and took him back home. He said it was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life. Now, my father had lived through the Depression and served in the army in WWII. But this was the hardest thing he had ever had to do. He started crying as he was telling me about it. I had never heard my father cry before. But he loved that little dog. I admit I was crying, too. As much for my father as about Poncho.


Larry from OK