Amigo, my boyhood dog.

I now reside in a rather large suburban apartment complex, and most of the residents are much younger, ranging from college students, on up.  There are a few of us retirees, but not many.  I think there are more just around the corner at the “55 and over” complex.  I prefer being in a representative slice of our society rather than being around a bunch of  “old-folks” needing assistance or therapy, but I may be there someday, who knows.

There are many dogs here in the complex, mostly pets of mostly younger people, singles or married couples without children from what I can tell.  There are some decent dog running spaces also, and most people do pick up their doggie “doo” as they should….though not all, as there is always the lazy-ass person who finds rationale for not disposing of his or her dog’s droppings.  Heh guys, it attracts flies, and those try to land on my food when I am eating outdoors! Good dog, BAD dog owner!

When I see these dogs I am taken back to memories of the two dogs I had in my life at different times.  One my wife and I had, Sassy, and then my first boyhood dog, Amigo.

I will write about Amigo this morning, and Sassy one day, when I will include our cats also…..all family members of course, and all deceased long ago.

The grainy old picture is of myself with Amigo.  I was probably about 9 or 10.  We were actually out hiking on this tall rocky “mountain” (hill) on our ranch in the Texas hill country, along with my folks and my little sister.  I wish I had more photos of Amigo, as he was a cutie.  From his appearance one can easily tell he was a “mongrel,” but he truly had the best of all his ingredients.  Fearlessness, tenacity, intelligence and perfectly crafted to be my little friend.  He and I were inseparable when outdoors, and he stayed outdoors as he was a country dog.

Everywhere I went on our 640 acre ranch, he was there with me.  We fished together, we hunted together and played make believe games together.  I did not usually have a playmate, as my sister was younger, and I had no close neighbor boys, and my one cousin, Eddie, who was like a brother, I only saw occasionally.  So it was me and Amigo, braving the wilderness together, like pioneers stretching our reach to each new horizon.

Our ranch was one section (640 acres), which translates to a square mile.  Now for a 9 year old boy’s backyard, that ain’t bad!  We roamed all of it, and also the river bounding one side.  As any ranch in that area, we had lots of white tail deer, turkeys, and every kind of “varmint” and bird you can imagine, and a few snakes, but thank goodness most of the rattlers seemed to prefer areas beyond our space.

Our land also had large live oak bottoms, actual forested with these wonderful and many ancient oaks, and around the bottoms were fallen warriors, making for great make believe playgrounds.  I would imagine them as ships, airplanes, you name it……it was all part of my daily play dreaming.  And Amigo just played along as I enacted the various roles of my dramas.

Amigo loved to hunt, and we were deadly on lizards in particular!  There were droves of green lizards and tree lizards, and they were all fair game when we were on the hunt.  Fortunately most lizards sacrifice their tails when caught, then grow them back.  I used to see a lot of funny looking new tails.

Amigo also found great sport in attacking armadillos, which were plentiful, leaving their rooting trails in the deep leaves of the bottoms as they moved about searching for grubs and “armadillo food.”  “Migo” had perfected his attack on the clueless fellows, and upon sighting one in the daylight, he would go full bore at it, hitting the unsuspecting creature in the side like a cannonball, tumbling it, then trying to bite into its soft underbelly before it could right itself.  Occasionally he was successful, but usually not, as these little guys could run like lightning themselves, headed straight back to the hold entrances to their underground lairs.  Amigo would not be defeated in his quest so easily, however, as he would go into the hole trying to get ahold of their tails to drag them out.  Well the armadillo was not much smaller than he was, and once in their hole, with their long claws to dig into the earth, it would take a grizzly to get them out.  I was glad Amigo was seldom successful, as I liked the funny looking creatures, and occasionally would catch a baby one to inspect.

I don’t recall how long I had Amigo in my life, time has no dimension at that age, but probably about 4 years I think.  We got him as a pup, watched the little bundle of fur grow, and finally had a full blown Amigo, who adored me, and I likewise.

I went to elementary school 40 miles from where our ranch was.  I rode the bus everyday, along with my sister, to and fro, and it was a long ride, and daily I was glad to see the gate to our ranch where we exited the bus, nearly the last ones to get off.  However, one day around noon, my mother unexpectedly showed up, and found me, and said she had something to tell me.  She took me to the car, and as we left the school she began to talk.  When we were just out of the town’s limits, she said, “Joe Harry, Amigo got hit by a pickup and is dead.”

I felt immediately my whole world cave in.  I knew very well what death was, being a country boy, and having myself brought death to birds and varmints….not sure I had killed my first deer yet.  But to hear my buddy was now dead, oh my god, it seemed like the end of the world to me.  I sobbed the entire 40 miles home.

Mother had recovered Amigo’s body from the highway where he had been hit, and placed it near the house, close to a spot where we could bury his remains.  I fell on the body and cried my heart out, and swore up and down I would find who killed him and do the same to them!  I was totally devastated.

In the Texas hill country, a dog that is running around usually will not survive, because any rancher regards the animal as a threat to the sheep and goats, especially when they are having offspring.  Amigo ran loose, and when I was in school apparently he wandered off seeking his own excitement, and found it by taking a baby lamb.  He was laying on the country highway, gnawing on the carcass, when a rancher came along, saw him, and decided to run over him.  Usually these dogs are shot, but either way…..

It took me a while to get past the trauma, and my father, who wanted a dog around to “guard” the house at night, decided to get two half grown pups.  There were much larger dogs than Amigo had been, but I took to them, but for some reason I never developed the bond that I had with my friend.  I think I was afraid of being hurt.  Probably this was a good defense, as a couple of years later we picked up and moved to California, having to give up the two dogs.

It would be decades later before I had another wonderful doggie in my life.  But even today, as you should be able to discern, Amigo was and always will remain my buddy.