In the poor olden days dogs used to earn their keeps by being a watchdog on an often lonely farm, and were rewarded by leftovers from the family diner table. Up in northern Canada, Eskimo's used Husky sled dogs to pull fully loaded sleds, and when I was a kid, there were still four big dogs in our village harnessed in front of a bakfiets, (bike wagon) one pair were pulling a loaded bakfiets with bakery goods and driver, the other with fuel, coal and anthracite, also plus a burly driver sitting on the rear of the wagon.
My father-in-law had light-blue eyes similar to that of huskies and wolves. He was not scared of even the wildest dog. My son Leonard was the same. One day he came home with a small version of a German Shepherd in tow, which he already had given the name Hobo.
'He followed me,' he said and I believed him. Both had this rare magnetism which, I think, is understood and respected by animals.
Once I witnessed my father in law approach an angry dog watching the auto garage in which his car was being repaired. He calmly walked towards the open garage doors while talking softly to the furiously barking animal. As he got closer the dog doubled his violent howling while stretching the steel chain containing him, to the limit. My in-law did not miss a step while he kept on talking softly, and by the time he was in reach of the vicious animal the dog's tail was wagging and he was licking my father-in-law,s fingers.
Something similar happened with my son.
His dog Hobo was surrounded in the next lot by four or five large dogs with one Rottweiler among them as well as a Pit-bull. It was a certainty that they were intend to kill him.
Then, out of nowhere somebody rushed by me, jumped over the small ditch between our properties right into the middle of the vicious killer dogs, grabbed Hobo into his arms and walked over to the safety of our yard. Not one of the intended killer-dogs had a chance to follow the condemned or the rescuer. Or was it that they did not take the chance?
The rescuer was of course my son Len, who even as a small child pandered up to a chained Husky without any concern and started wrestling! with him. The owner of the dog seeing what happened could not believe his eyes.
Yesterday I found a letter of my wife Anne written in 1974 to her father in which she answered his letter to us. The topic must have been 'being the boss,' accompanied by some stories.
Len, who was 13 years then, understood what his grandfather meant when Anne read that letter, which was written in Dutch, and added something of his own as Anne writes him back – 'Len loved your stories, his eyes 'straalden,' were shining, and he nodded his head repeatedly. He knew exactly what you meant. He added to it 'If you want to go horse riding the horse has to know who is the boss, otherwise he will throw you. Same goes for dogs.'
Hobo was known by most all in Ladner, where we then lived. He was free to roam all over town, even though he carried no collar with a dog token. Then in the winter of 1978 - '79 he did not show up. There were rumours aplenty - he was seen here, then there, even as far away as Tswassen and Richmond.
We never saw Hobo again. We all felt as if we had lost a little Brother, but still hoped and hoped for months that he would show up as he always had shown up – but he never did.
In the middle of summer of that same year, 1979, the rescuer of Hobo from a violent death by overpowering predators, our son and brother Len, who was 18 then and on his way home from Forth Mac-Murray, Alberta, where he was going to work, was killed instantly in a road accident.