His name was Lumbo. I couldn’t have come up with a better name for him myself.
He was our neighbor’s dog and was the epitome of a “Lumbo.” Big, ugly, and dumb as a rock. He looked a tiny bit like an Irish Wolfhound, but his hair was longer and shaggier and half covered his eyes. Lumbo always reeked of wet dog regardless of whether he was wet or not.
I often wondered if his owners drug habits pickled poor Lumbo’s brain, but what Lumbo lacked in intelligence, he made up in personality. He considered us neighbor kids to be his friends as much as his owners’ kids. When his people weren’t home he made himself comfy on our porch, snuck into our entryway when it was snowing or raining, and stole cat food when he could. He was always generous to share his fleas with our cats, and felt no shame in scratching ear mites or itching his worms with us watching.
Lumbo liked cats. No, I mean he REALLY liked cats. His owners took in a kitten and Lumbo adopted it. He would pick it up in his mouth (yes, IN his mouth) and carry it around. A nose sticking out one end, a tail on the other end… the rest of the kitten inside. The first time I saw him do this I freaked as only a twelve-year-old animal loving girl can freak. I pried open his mouth and removed the kitten, fully prepared to do battle. He just cocked his head at me, gave me a confused look, and licked the kitten in my hands.
He had been holding the kitten so gently that she was actually purring. Wet, slimy, oozing… but content. Being a twelve-year-old girl, I was totally grossed out but very relieved. I didn’t stop to think (until after the fact) about what I could potentially have pulled from the dog’s mouth.
Lumbo went on to carry that kitten around for the rest of the summer. Wet, slimy, oozing dog drool and all. The kitten always had spiky clumps of gooey hair sticking every which way, but she was loved. That was one kitten I had no desire to cuddle. Ick.
Our cats weren’t so impressed with Lumbo’s attempt at affection towards them. We had three cats and two of them would just wait for the right moment to box him in the tender nose and leave scratches.
One of them wasn’t quite as forgiving. Panther had a temper problem. He knew better than to take his temper out on us, or the head cat in our home, but now and then he would attack his brother, Whiskers, chase him through the house leaving clumps of hair behind, and draw blood. Panther would then get a spanking from us and be ejected from the house.
Poor Lumbo. Panther would hunt and stalk him to appease his fit of anger. Sounds of a dog being beat and tortured sent us flying to the windows and doors. Lumbo streaked past the porch with Panther in hot pursuit. A couple of times Panther would actually be fastened on Lumbo’s back screeching cuss words at him as Lumbo begged for mercy and rescue.
Despite Lumbo’s flea problem, his excessive drool, and his “duh” factor, I couldn’t help but love him.
I learned later that my friend shut him in her room when her parents had their drug parties. That she was awakened a few times by Lumbo snarling at the bedroom door and stealthy footsteps moving down the hall, away from her door. She told me that Lumbo bit her Uncle Fred once, and that it was her fault. I didn’t understand until years later what that probably meant.
I was too young and naïve to help my friend but God gave her a big, dumb, slobbery mutt to protect her. God did give me the privilege of leading her to the Lord that summer, though. She was sleeping at my house, in my bed, and asked why we were so different from her family.
I didn’t see that much difference. My dad was a drunk, too. He didn’t do drugs and I always felt safe, but still…
Then I realized what she really meant. I shared Jesus with her and we cried and prayed together.
A few weeks later we moved. I don’t know what happened to my friend, but I figured God had His hands on and around her. After all, He gave her Lumbo.
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