By Will Farris
I call it prehistoric times. Not when there were big lizards runnin’ around or no people, not that far back, but telephones had three-foot cords, weighed five pounds and were in the living room. Rich people had extensions, but the rest of us had to talk to girlfriends and others with the family listening in. There were no mobile, or cell phones and most TVs had rabbit ear antennas. Computers were far into the future and copy machines didn’t exist.
Being the ambitious 11-year-old that I was, I had a paper route. This thing covered a large geographic area of Pacifica; I had 90 daily and 120 Sunday customers of the San Francisco Chronicle – it was a load.
Foggy mornings were the norm, and as I began my route on one of those cold, wet days I happened on a really scary sight. It was a brindled boxer with strings of drool running from each jowl and he was happy to see another soul to keep company. He began to follow me and I was nervous every time I had to dismount to retrieve a paper out of a bush.
Finally I realized that he was just happy to have company. His tail was only a couple of inches long and when he wagged it his whole back end wagged along. He followed me through the entire route and was back the next day wagging his butt and grinning. We became bonded buddies. I met his owner who told me his name was Muggs. If there was ever a dog that deserved that name it was this one.
After my route I stopped in at the donut shop. Muggs came in with me and eventually became a favorite. The owner always had a hot dog for him and all the early morning customers fussed over him. He even found a resting place under the donut bench to rest up from his long run.
He had a serious habit did Muggs. He hated cats. His owner told me that a cat had gotten in to his litter and killed one of his littermates. But whatever the reason, he killed every cat he saw. It scared me at first then made me sad, but he was such a lovable drooling bum I just accepted it as a part of my friend.
One extremely foggy morning when I had trouble seeing across the street I began my route midst a nasty stink that got worse as I went alone. Wet and weary Muggs and I finished the route and went into the donut shop. The early-morning crowd consisted of cops, garbage men, commercial fishermen and firemen changing their shift.
Upon our entry, the entire crowd including the owner escaped outside. Apparently my buddy had managed to kill one of those furry, black and white cats that wasn’t a cat at all. Hence the ambient stink and hasty exit from the donut shop. I was unanimously voted as the person most deserving of evicting the miscreant who was patiently waiting for his hot dog.
One particular morning Muggs was off on cat patrol and I had dismounted to retrieve a vagrant paper. There were two older kids who were trying to get a doodlebug running across the street. When I returned to my bike they approached me and demanded my collection money. I didn’t have any and figured that I was gonna get a beating. These guys were older and bigger than me and I was scared.
Out of the shadows came this creature with drool hanging from his mouth, walking stiff legged and growling like something I’ve never heard before. The two would-be robbers ran back to their machine and pushing it ran faster than that thing had ever got when it was running. Muggs just watched them go and came back to me for a back scratch. If they were cats he would have given chase but he would never hurt a person.
He followed me home a couple times and once Mom woke me up. She was terrified that this fearsome animal was going to hurt a child. When I looked out the window the younger kids in the neighborhood were pulling his ears, tail and even climbing on him. He just stood there as if he had played this game before. The kids somehow knew he was just a toy.
He had an epic battle with a bobcat. He survived but his running days were over. He lives with me still in my heart.