In November of 1992, we took our son to get a Labrador puppy. The boy had already chosen the one he wanted, when another little puppy came before him with an offering. It was only a leaf, but the pup presented it with such reverence, laying it at the boy’s feet, and looked up at him with such hope that our son was smitten. And so, Chocolate Yuban came to live with us.

Yuban was smarter than the average dog. He was friendly, playful, happy, and he had a subconscious desire to be a dental hygienist. At least, that’s what we figured. We had to warn folks who petted him to keep their mouths shut, “or Yuban will clean your teeth.” Licky, licky. The fastest tongue in the west.

He also liked to rub his face on family members, and try to climb into a lap and roll around, as if wallowing. We said he liked to “waller”, and we decided to claim that a local arterial road was named for him: Waller Road. It was obvious. If not him, then to whom could it refer?

Yuban was the “champeen” Frisbee catcher and ball fetcher of Tierhaus Farm. That dog had a longer hang time than Michael Jordan! He could cross our huge yard in 2 seconds, leap, and soar for what seemed like hours until he chomped on the Frisbee.

He made sure he always ended up with the ball, too, if one was thrown. In fact, even if 2 were thrown. When Yuban and my yeller dawg Bill played fetch, Yuban would usually get to the ball first. If not, then he’d push his mouth into Billy-dawg’s, ratchet it open a bit more, and the ball would fall out of Bill’s mouth into his own. So I would throw 2 balls, one for each dog. Yuban often picked up the one, then raced to the other, before Bill could orient himself. (See his memorial on this site.) Bill—and myself too—would search for the second ball, until I discovered that Yuban (Booban, Booboo, etc.) could hold both balls in his mouth at the same time! Then he’d play his favorite game: “I have it and you don’t!” Throwing 3 balls didn’t work, either. He held 2 in his mouth, and hid the 3rd behind a clump of grass out in the yard. That’s probably why we switched to Frisbees.

During the day, the family had places to be, and we put Yuban, along with Bill, in a pen much larger than most people’s backyard. But Yuban didn’t want to stay there. An electric fence became necessary, and since Yuban could tell if it wasn’t on, we had to keep a current going through it all day. Undeterred, Yuban made ingenious excavations that not only bypassed (or underpassed) the wire, but also undermined key parts of the gate structure. We tried to fix the gate and fill the tunnels, but the dog was determined.

He even ran away when we were all home. My spouse strung more electric fencing around the larger yard, but only had enough to go half way around, stopping just after the back gate. Yuban stayed home for a few weeks—until one day when we discussed that we needed to finish the fence because it stopped just past the gate.

Within 24 hours, Yuban had dug under the fence, at precisely the point we had been talking about, just past the electric wire. So we nicknamed him “The Great Boodini”, and it was decided that the dog should never be allowed to watch “Hogan’s Heroes” or “The Shawshank Redemption”.

As Yuban saw it, however, his purpose in life was to love his boy. He worshipped our son, unconditionally. His escapades outside the yard told us that Yuban needed more attention, and while the boy spent time with him, Yuban stayed home. But when those times dwindled, Yuban split. Once, he lived with another family for 3 weeks, under the pseudonym of “Max”. He didn’t like to talk to us about it, though. Fortunately, the mail lady recognized him, and so we ended up bringing Yuban home again.

The boy grew up and became a man, and Yuban never stopped adoring him. I tried to make up for the increasing time that the boy was away, but even when our son came home (to his parents’ house, that is) only once a week or so, Yuban was overjoyed at those times, just to stand near him.

Well, Yuban got older over those years when the boy was growing up, and he eventually became ill and weak, and was in pain. Today (February 9, 2006), he died. He was 13½ years old.

Yuban was a great dog. The world is colder and darker without him.


©2006 svread

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