I sat in my pickup, the pet section of the classifieds open on my lap, surreptitiously observing the massive blond hunk, who laid drooling and dreaming under the shady oak tree. Right on time, an old yellow school bus lumbered to a stop and out scurried a whole passel of noisy kids.
This was the moment I had been waiting for…the moment of truth.
He was on his feet in a flash, straining at his chain and wagging his tail as the children tromped past him. Those who stopped to pet him were rewarded with a friendly lick on the face. I heard one small boy command, “Cisco, shake.” Obediently, the dog sat back on his haunches and offered a furry paw.
I had seen enough. I bounded from my truck and did a Texas two-step across the street, excited as a school boy, myself.
“You’re the one,” I said, cradling his broad head in my hands.
“I’ll take him,” I said to the relieved owner, who apologetically explained that she no longer had the time or resources to care for the overgrown pup.
Back at the hacienda, not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the new family pet.
“He’s so big,” my wife gasped, as I led Cisco through the gate.
Next, shouts of “eek” and “yikes” and “run” filled the air from the dozen or so kids who played in our yard on a daily basis.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” my wife said doubtfully, as she watched Cisco enjoy his newly found, unchained freedom by chasing children up trees and to the top of the swing set.
“I’ll have him trained in no time,” I replied, confidently.
Two weeks later, my own words haunted me. During that time, Cisco had torn down a tent that had been erected for a backyard sleepover, destroyed a number of toys and articles of clothing and dug a hole, roughly the size of our Lone Star state, in our backyard.
“Lord, can you give me some help here? Please.” I pleaded, as I rested my head on the shovel I was using to fill in Cisco’s latest excavation.
The very next day, He did just that. I googled the two breeds of dogs which jointly made up Cisco. Now, I understood the problem.
“I know how to train that dog,” I told my wife. I promptly invited our people-oriented pet to live inside with the rest of us. From that moment on, we never had another problem with Cisco. No longer relegated to an outside dog house, Cisco became the most well behaved, cooperative, considerate and appreciative member of the family.
For the next 12 years, Cisco amazed and delighted us all. How many times did I see children taking a nap on his broad back or riding him around the house like a pony? I remember Cisco sitting patiently while little girls fitted him in dress up clothes. I can still see him dashing back and forth playing “keepaway” as the boys tossed a ball over his head.
The years passed and the kids grew up and moved away. My wife and I decided to fulfill a life long dream of relocation out west. By that time, Cisco’s blond head had turned white. A large, inoperable tumor ballooned on his right leg, making walking laborious for him. How could Cisco make a cross country trip with us? And yet, how could he not?
My wife and I devised a ramp to haul Cisco into the back of the truck, where he rode comfortably ensconced on a bevy of cushions and blankets.
The day that we stopped at a ranch along our route to visit with friends was the highlight of our journey. As we stood talking, an amazing sight unfolded before us. Old Cisco had managed to limp into the corral, where he was surrounded by over fifty Arabian horses. Sensing that he was elderly and infirmed, the horses formed a sympathetic circle around Cisco, nuzzling him tenderly. When Cisco walked, the horses formed a line and followed him. When he stopped, the horses circled him once again.
Cisco lived to enjoy a year in our new home. He passed away as peacefully and gently as he lived.
If a man is as blessed as me, he will have the companionship of many best friends in his lifetime. But, for me, Cisco will forever be the best of the best.
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