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Lobo

by Nicholas Campanella

 


Bio: I am from Seaside Heights - A real Jersey Shore boy not like those characters who insulted us with the Jersey Shore television show. I specialize in humor and satire along with horror and fantasy. I have been published in several zines along with two books, Room For Madness and a collection of short stories. I am an avid animal lover with three saved cats and I have resided in Tucson for the last twenty years with my wife.

              I have to go back quite a ways to retrieve Lobo from the dusty shelves of my past. I have to return Seaside Heights, N.J. to the year or so we lived on the island before moving off the barrier island to the mainland in the brand spanking new development called Bellcrest; smack in the middle of the Pine Barrens. This was about 1960.

              I was around five years of age when Lobo came into my life and spent one year with me which I affectionately refer to as The Year Of The Wolf. It is amazing how some things, no matter what, remain crystal clear in my mind. I can still see Lobo in my mind’s eye. His nearly black fur, large black eyes, and always alert large black ears watching me every moment. I can easily see the huge wolf like German Shepherd, bushy tail wagging, always ready to play with and protect his five year old protégé. I can still feel his hot breath and muffled playful growling in my right ear, his nose so large and wet against my neck, as we chased each other through the tiny one bedroom cottage in Seaside Heights. Make no mistake about it - we often played fairly rough. Lobo of course outweighed and outsized me but we wrestled on equal terms. Actually in truth Lobo just let me win the matches.

               His huge claws sometimes scratched my back a bit when upon catching me after the chase he used his front paws to pin me face down on the floor. This is when I would receive the nose on the neck and ear and playful growling that informed he had won this round. One might think being pinned on the floor by an adult wolf like creature would be frightening. You see the effect was more like being tickled with a sort of “I won now you have to chase me” attitude. My parents asked about the scratches and I told them not bother, him being so big and me so little, it was inevitable to get a scratch or two. It never ceased to amaze me that an animal so big and strong could play so rough and yet be so nurturing and gentle at the same instant.

             We got Lobo from a  farm. He was a huge working dog, used to running free and roaming over several acres of land. It was sad to confine him to a small house which is why we only kept Lobo for a year. Plus the fact that Lobo had this thing about chasing my mother through the cottage after my father left for work and barking until she was standing on the couch hollering for me to come and get Lobo. I have to admit a couple of times I let Lobo linger there barking at her on the couch. Lobo’s tail would be wagging, his face smiling and barking, before I wrapped my arms around his neck, pressed my face against his furry face and said “Come on Lobo. That’s enough.” I think Lobo did this to entertain me.

              Many years later I found out my mother was a Narcissist. Maybe Lobo knew something I didn’t know at the time.

              Now it is my turn to chase Lobo from the kitchen where he had captured me to the single bedroom around the corner and through the living room. Once I captured Lobo in the bedroom I would wrap my little arms around his mighty neck and try to push him to the ground. After some playful struggle Lobo would fall on his side to the floor allowing me to win. Then I am up and running towards the kitchen. Lobo’s ears would perk up as began to rise with that look Germen Shepherds get on their face that let’s you know they are having a ball. The sound of his toenails scratching the tile floor as he made his way to the kitchen to capture me became louder and louder and here comes that warm wet nose again and me being tickled until I am laughing.

            In winter Seaside Heights at that time resembled a ghost town with only a few souls living on the island. One of those souls lived across the street. When the streets were icy with snow and sleet my father would bring out the sled and hitch Lobo to it. Lobo would then pull me on the sled up and down the street.

           Make no mistake about it - Lobo was my protector and bodyguard.

           The soul across the street, a soul about my parents age, was angry with me for reasons I can no longer recall. One beautiful hot summer day while I was sitting outside on the front porch, the island brimming with people, the neighbor from across the street crossed the road and began hollering at me. Needless to say it was a very frightening experience. Fortunately for me our front door was open. Soon I heard Lobo running through the house sensing aggression. His barking instantly scared the man off and our neighbor ran like he was on fire across the street to his cottage. He barely made it inside as Lobo raced across the road after him chasing him right up his front door. Lobo then returned to my side and sat with me.

           Our neighbor returned from work everyday after six. Prior to his returning from work Lobo would watch from the small kitchen and wait for our neighbor to return. When our neighbor pulled up in his driveway Lobo would watch for him to exit the car. As soon a our neighbor was on his way to his front door Lobo would dash from the kitchen barking. Lobo would then chase the man to his front door. Soon the man apologized to me and we began shutting the front door when he returned from work.

           We gave Lobo to someone who had plenty of room for him to run and play. Lobo never made it off the island to the mainland and a new home with us. I spent one year with that beautiful dog.

            Like I said at the beginning - I have to go back quite a ways to retrieve Lobo from the dusty shelves of my memory. Back there in all that dust Lobo’s memory returns full force.

            No dust will ever gather on that dog.


 
 
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