Branko loved people. He never had a cross bark for anyone. Yes, people and parties were the staples of his life.
He loved “day trips” too. In fact, he loved trips to town so much, he’d trot down to the ferry terminal and hang around til a ferry was sailing city-side. Up the gangway, stepping smartly, waving his plume, he’d give the ticket man a friendly “woof!” and go straight to the seats on the fore-deck. Unless the weather was miserable; then he’d settle down with the other don’t-like-the-rain passengers.
When the ferry docked, what did he do? Why, he trotted straight up to the harbour-master’s office and sat, very politely, waiting for the duty officer to give him the treat of the day.Then someone would put him on a return sailing and telephone his owner’s place of work.
Of course, this only happened if he could sneak out of his yard. Normally, the gates were closed, but sometimes a visitor or meter reader might forget to latch the gates.
So it was that, one day, someone failed to close the side gate and Branko, looking for company, wandered up the street.
All the kids were in school and no one seemed to be about. He turned towards the harbour and suddenly, he saw people. Lots of people! And they were not rushing around, too busy for a doggy chat. So he fell into step with the people and walked along with them. All the way to the church. And on into the church. More people came! And then there was music. Music! People! It must be a party!
When the mighty organ roared forth, so did Branko, howling like one possessed.The priest despatched an usher to remove the dog. But Branko was not about to leave a party. No sir! He stiffened every muscle and refused to budge, all the while adding his own bass notes to the funeral hymn. Chaos threatened.
But as the grieving widow turned to look from the front pew, Branko stopped “singing.” He walked along the aisle and sat quietly at the front until the service ended.
In his book, this party was not over yet! When the casket was loaded into the hearse and the mourners began to walk silently behind, Branko tagged along, tail waving proudly.
Like a mascot, summoned for the task, he trotted among the mourners, licking a hand, rubbing against a leg, giving a short, soft “woof!” occasionally.
And then he headed home.
There is a footnote to this. The widow made enquiries about “that dog” and was eventually put in touch with Branko’s breeder. I heard that she named her dog after Branko’s owner.