I went for a walk with a friend the other day, and on a whim, wandered down toward Pongo’s house.
And, to explain the significance of that – I have to go back a few years for most of you…
If any of you remember high school, you know how it could be a tangled up knot of stress, from the academics, which were hard enough, to the social aspect, where everyone was trying to figure out where they fit in the overall pecking order, to the after school stuff, where you often found out where you stood by being on the receiving end of some of that pecking.
I remember when I was in high school, the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was to pet my dog, and play with him, and scritch him behind his ears, and I could just feel that knotted ball of stress from school slowly unwind. It was amazing how beneficial having a dog could be right after school like that, and although we didn’t have a dog when our son was growing up years later, he found one anyway, right when and where he needed one.
And the dog he found had started out life as the runt of the litter in a cardboard box of puppies, being given away in front of a Safeway store in Bremerton, Washington. Pongo was suspected of being a mix of something Australian, a bit of shepherd, a bit of Husky, and the rest was of indeterminate origins. However, to really narrow it down, anything short of DNA testing implied something much simpler. In spite of being the runt, in his youth, Pongo was half husky, half stegosaurus. He was, as all good dogs are, the best friend of his boy, a young lad who had grown up, just like Pongo did, and unlike Pongo, eventually moved away from home.
Pongo ended up living with the boy’s dad, Jack, and the two of them grew old together over the years. It was in Jack’s front yard that you could find Pongo every day, holding down his patch of sod. And it was there that the most reliable form of therapy for any human was lovingly waiting, every day, when our son walked by coming home from school. And every day, Pongo did something no human could possibly do, which by now, thanks to Bill Watterson, had a name:
Pongo offered up Fuzz Therapy.
And he did it with love.
He didn’t chase sticks anymore, nor did he chase Frisbees ® but he could definitely give some Fuzz Therapy.
A number of years after he graduated from High School, our son and I went back to the street where Pongo lived, and sure enough, he was still there, still holding down that one patch of sod he’d been holding down for so many years, and when he saw our son, Pongo’s tired eyes lit up at the sight of a long lost friend, and he struggled to his feet, a little bit at a time, and slowly ambled over to where he knew he’d get some petting and loving. And from what I saw in the next few minutes, it was obvious that Fuzz Therapy was a two way street.
Jack said that Pongo’d been getting on in years, which was obvious, as well as being sick, which was not, so we were glad that we stopped by when we did. And our son, going through the stresses of being a young adult, trying to balance the risks and benefits of running his own business, figuring out backup plans for both the job market and the financial risks and benefits of college, was able to get some Fuzz Therapy one more time.
Some months have gone by, and we’ve gone past Jack’s place several times since the visit in these pictures, but it has become clear that the last time we saw Pongo was the last time we would ever see Pongo…
So Pongo, my dear friend, the one who brought our son such happiness, such love, and such peace, wherever you are, I wish you an eternity blessed with a whole, healthy body, the ability to run and chase to your heart’s content, and may you get as much from the Fuzz Therapy as you gave.
(Pongo – as seen by the Google Street View camera in September of 2010)