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DOGS THAT COME BACK

E. Katie Gammill TheDogPlace.org / August 2009

POCO BOLO DE FUEGO “Indian Creek Little Ball of Fire” 11/9/1994-11/8/2005

 

It’s known in nature, the “fittest” survive. However, nature fails to mention this to one tiny puppy. Performing a miracle known to many breeders, this puppy returns in the form of another dog. Many of us have seen this and get goose bumps when it happens. This phenomenon causes our hearts to soar. This is the story of Poco Bolo and his dedication to his owner, Mark.

 

Poco Bolo de Fuego enters the world on Nov. 9, 1994. Nature scrapes the bottom of the barrel to produce this tiny, tough courageous pup. This scrappy sheltie defies the odds and survives. Although the “runt” of the litter, fate obviously knows there is a person who will need this puppy desperately.

Debbie and Mark Crean visit regularly. The tiny male catches their eye. At three weeks he grunts as they scratch his neck, turning his head into their hand. He owns the world and captures them from the “get go” as he swaggers across the floor. This whopping 2.4 pound sheltie wraps them around his little paw. He goes home with them in his own crocheted blanket. These people are “his” and he fills their hearts. He’ll never leave them and in turn, they never think about losing him. Proving all our declarations wrong, the puppy walks the line. Extremely intelligent, he understands words, so they resort to spelling. He learns to spell too. Independent, lovable, and mischievous, strutting Poco is a “big” little dog.

Shetland Sheepdog Katie Gammill - FlintPoco’s favorite place is on Mark’s lap in the recliner. Chasing the vacuum, he crashes on his special blanket by Marks chair. He peeks from beneath furniture when they call and at bath time, lurks around the corner. Poco’s sense of humor taunts them and he graduates from flash light to laser light. He barks at the phone, door, sneezes, and chases shadows on the wall. He learns to fetch, tug rope, and kill his Frisbee.

Poco loves Mark, his “dad” best of all. If Mark fails to take him outside when he does yard work, Poco runs from window to window. When Mark dresses in his firefighter uniform, Poco knows it is work time. If Mark scolds, Poco is crushed. At maturity, Poco weighs 15 pounds, but in his mind, he is a 100 pound canine.

A few years later Mark is injured on the job. Poco, knowing “dad” is suffering, dedicates all his time and energy to Mark’s recovery. Freely giving kisses and snuggles, he is a constant companion. Crutches do not deter him. A short time later a second major surgery is required and Poco is there again to ease the pain of recuperation.

Once Mark recovers, Poco becomes sick. Rushed to the vet, treatment starts immediately. Poco gives up the struggle and leaves his ‘parents” in the wee hours of the morning one day before his 12th. Birthday. Mark and Debbie are devastated, but continue to visit the puppies. Mark’s eyes fill with tears, but he is not ready for a new puppy and may never be.

Much later another litter of three shelties are born at Indian Creek. For an unknown reason, one tiny male catches pneumonia and struggles. He snorts and snuffles, fighting for life. Debbie and Mark worry about him. However, unable to get over the loss of Poco, and despite our writing on a Christmas Card “Good for one Indian Creek Puppy”, Mark declines our offer.

We are invited to Christmas dinner. After a discussion with Debbie, I fix a puppy pack with toys, food, and instructions and place the tiny male in a little box with a red bow. Handing the package to Mark, I say “Merry Christmas”! Being the nice guy that he is, Mark cannot refuse my gesture. Deliberating on a name for the puppy, they decide on “Indian Creek Lucky Strike” (Flint). We weigh Flint as he is too tiny to measure.

Shetland Sheepdog Katie Gammill - FlintThis puppy with a “can-do” attitude is determined to fill Mark’s day with sunshine. He chooses to accept the position of “stand in” for the time being. He lurks behind doors and peeks from beneath the furniture. Like Poco, Flint chases shadows on the wall and dedicates his life to Mark’s happiness. Each season Flint appears more like his predecessor. The wall of Mark and Flint’s relationship slowly crumbles. Debbie and Mark are amazed how much Flint’s mannerisms mimic Poco’s.

There are many stories about dogs returning in another form. Perhaps there’s something about the tilt of a head that is reminiscent of a dog from the past. Laying its chin on your knee, do the eyes seem to say “I’m back, don’t you see me?” Some similarities cannot be denied. Sometimes playful genes came together and it seems certain dogs return for a second “go-around”. Few of us are gifted with such a unique experience, but it surfaces more often than we care to admit.

Mark, convinced Flint is Poco in disguise, allows him into his heart at last. Patient and loyal, they again communicate and the circle is complete. Every day, Mark is reminded of Poco through Flint’s actions and his heart is no longer sad.

Truth be told, puppies keep us young. Their presence softens hard times and adds joy to our lives. They offer an endless supply of love, acceptance and devotion. Sadly, their lives are shorter than ours, but by accepting this unquestionable dedication, we experience life as a whole. Wallowing in puppy breath allows sadness to melt and builds new memories..

Katie GammillOn rare occasions, breeders admit to knowing their line so well they see a dog from the past personified in a new puppy. I know I have, and Mark and Debbie have little doubt. Poco is indeed back in Flint’s form. Does this explain the phenomenon pet owners experience when they allow another dog into their lives and familiarities surface?

Perhaps for Poco, heaven was postponed because his responsibilities on earth weren’t complete. Perhaps returning as Flint, he will finish this designated task. Some things we never know, others we simply must accept.

Will Rogers says it best. “If there are no dogs in heaven, I don’t want to go there”. I’m sure our beloved pets have mutual feelings regarding our being present in heaven as well.

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