Pike’s Dog. My favorite “talking” dog. A true story.

Why  do  some  dogs learn to “talk?”   Dogs  normally  bark. Sometimes  they howl, most commonly when a fire truck siren  goes by.  A few special dogs learn to mimic human speech to sound like they are “talking.”  These dogs can express their feelings  quite well in that way.  Perhaps it may come about if the dog suffers a traumatic event.

My favorite “talking dog” was known as Pike’s Dog.  I wish I had  a video of him.  Both Pike and his dog are long since  dead.  But, the story of Pike’s Dog is a true story worth telling.

My parents once owned a cabin in the California high desert.  My  mother was completely entranced by the desert.  On her  first trip  to  California, she found the dry heat of the  desert  very satisfying.  So, when an opportunity presented itself to buy land in the desert, she did.  They had a pink cinder block cabin built in an area east of Landers, California and north of Joshua  Tree.  My parents became weekend desert rats.

Over  the  years  people moved out there, and  many  of  the original  desert  rats  were replaced by  retirees  and  disabled people  who lived there full time.  One of the latter was  a  man named Pike.  I suppose Pike had a first name but everyone  called him Pike.

Pike was a tall, lanky man, usually dressed in cowboy boots, Levi’s, and cowboy hat.  He drove an old pickup truck.  He  lived with  his Aunt and they looked after each other.  My Dad  quickly made friends with Pike.   They helped each other hook up water to their cabins when the municipal water came into the area.

Around  the time of the water hook up, Pike told my  Dad  he had  acquired  a German Shepherd mix dog.  Pike said  a  man  who lived on the other side of the paved road kept a dog chained  up.  The man would whip the dog when he got drunk.

Then,  Pike  said  he found out that the man  had  shot  and wounded  the dog with his gun.  Pike said enough was enough.   He loaded  up his .38 Smith & Wesson revolver and went to the  man’s property.  He pointed the gun at the man and untied the dog.

“I’m takin’ this here dog home with me,” said Pike, “and  if you  interfere, I’ll plug you.  I ought to plug you  anyways  for the way you treated this poor dog.”

Pike  brought the dog home and then took him to the  Vet  on his meager income.  He then nursed the dog back to health.  After the  dog  recovered,  Pike let the dog run around  loose  in  the neighborhood. Pike’s dog would go visiting, usually in the  morning before it got too hot.

Those were in the days after my parents retired.  They  made frequent week long trips to the desert.  Every morning, after  my mother brewed the coffee, they would have two visitors.  A  roadrunner would appear on the porch and my mother would talk to  the bird.  The bird would cock her head this way and that and make  a kind  of clucking sound.  Then, off she would go,  running.   The same bird would show up the next morning at the same time.  Then, Pike’s  dog would come to visit.  He never barked,  he  “talked.”  My Dad told me he had never heard a dog “talk” like Pike’s dog.

I was out there one weekend with them.  Early that  morning, Pike’s dog came to visit after the coffee was brewing.  At  first he  flinched when I looked at him, but I talked softly  and  held out  my hand palm down for him to sniff and to lick. Soon he  was “talking”  to me as I rubbed his neck.  It was a kind  of  mellow yodeling, mournful and soulful.  I suppose he was trying to  tell me of all the awful things that evil man had done to him. I would urge  him  on  with phrases like “Is that  so?   Tell  me  more.”  Pike’s dog would get quite passionate in his “talk.”

It  was  a marvel that a dog could overcome  such  miserable treatment and become so friendly and unafraid again.  Much of the credit goes to Pike.  He was a good man.  If the dog had a  name, I never knew it.  We called him Pike’s dog.

About Richard Rollo

I am a retired Community College Instructor. I taught Political Science 1 American Government for 22 years in Southern California. I am originally from Northern Minnesota. My earliest years were spent in the living quarters of a rural Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific Railway Depot. Then my family joined the great 1950's migration to Southern California where I joined up with fellow baby boomers in overcrowded schools.
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