A Dog Named 'Homes'

Rememberances of a pachuco pup who wouldn't stay home

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: March 23, 2002

A Dog Named 'Homes'

We once had a black Labrador/German Shepherd mixed dog who we loved named 'Homes'. He lived for almost seventeen years, which is something like 119 in dog years, so he was like the Strom Thurmond of K-9?s.

The great thing about Homes was that he was a low maintenance backyard barrio pooch, who never had a shot, check up, tune up, or even knew what a vet looked like. The Homer outlived most chauffeured designer dogs by several years and was known to bark out an '?y qu??' or two.

He was given to us as a tall lanky pup, who immediately got stuck as the automatic garage door pinned him like a wrestler to the floor. Unscathed and unhurt by the incident, he always made it a practice to make a break for freedom every time the door swung open.

Every time he got out it was like a jailbreak and the entire family ran out of the house to chase him down the street. He was an unlicensed illegal, legal resident who loved to lick strangers across the forehead. We would chase him up the street; he would love to run into people?s garages and look for 'dates.' One son would flank him, then chase him back towards us, where we would stand like linebackers hoping to tackle him as he ran by. Once tackled, we would carry him back into the garage and give him a bath as he plotted his next escape.

I go to give him his name, Homes, because since the dog was for the kids, and they swore to take care of him, this meant as Dad I had to feed, care, and clean up after him. Given Homes? propensity to run away, I didn?t want to find myself at 6 am in my pachuco pajamas running down the street calling out for Spot, Fluffy, Fido or Rex. I needed a name that could command some dignity and at the same time intimidate the neighbors.

We attributed his personality and longevity to his eclectic diet. He was the first dog I ever heard of that loved Chinese food and salad. He only ate my sister-in-laws Nicoya rice, and I lost a bet to my son once after the Homester ate an entire cake.

Taking walks were a problem. We never trained him how to walk on a leash; we were unbridled Democrats at the time. Every time we took him down the block to the schoolyard to run around, he would pull us with his eyes bugging out and his mouth all foamy. The kids, however, took advantage of his proclivity for sleigh pulling and had him pull them down the street on skateboards. I tried this myself but bailed off when we started passing cars.

He used to obediently come when we called his name. It was usually feeding time. He soon realized calling his name also signaled that it was time to come in and sleep in the garage for the night. Plus, we would feed him whether we called his name or not, so eventually, when we called him, he would run the other way.

The quickest way to get rid of him was to call his name.

Ironically, the best way to get him to come to you was to yell, 'Here Kitty-Kitty.' He always fell for that one even, during his final years, always hopeful that a cat would be there so he could mess with it.

Once during a storm, the backyard fence blew down and Homes left town. We sent out our usual search party but to no avail. Daily, I would drive around the neighborhood. Our hopes where starting to fade. I even went to the Animal Shelter to see if he were locked up, and was proud to know that he evaded the animal migra, yet sad at his apparent disappearance. He was 12 human, 84 dog at the time. We all but gave up, but he didn?t.

On a weekday mid-morning after another major rainstorm, I was out doing an errand down near the coast about seven blocks from the house and whom do I see standing in an intersection? He looked skinny, drawn and tired. I stopped my SUV in the middle of the street and hauled him into the back; he looked at me all disgusted, like? ?Where have you been stupid??

The whole family was happy to see him. We made a special take out order and nursed him back to health. He lived another five leisurely years.

Homes no longer made a run for the border when the garage door opened. In fact, if he could have figured it out, he might have learned how to close it.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos Hernandez is a former pet owner.

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