Canine companions add cheer to life



Photo courtesy of Sara Van Donge

Blue grins after appropriating the car seat next to Noah Van Donge in the summer of 2009.

I had a dog and his name was Blue

I bet you 5 bucks he’s a good dog, too

I had a dog and his name was Blu-ue

I bet you 5 bucks he’s a good dog, too

Like the song, I, too, had a dog named Blue. I usually dislike dog stories because I can’t stand the tragedy of so many of them — and yes, my Bluedog has passed on ... but I’m not going to talk about that.

Blue was The Best Dog in the World. Really. Everyone agreed. He was polite and quiet, never needed a leash, didn’t beg or jump or run away — he was just a good companion. Whenever we took him to the disc golf course at Fort Walla Walla he was everyone’s mascot. He would stay right by our heels, unless he saw a pesky rabbit or squirrel — then he would tear off after it, although he never caught one. In the morning when I would wake, Blue would come up next to my bed and say hello, letting me pet his soft black fur. I really miss that dog.

My dad had a dog named Jack, who was similar to Blue except Jack would beg, steal food and run away. There are so many more funny stories about Jack than Blue because Jack — though quiet, polite, and respectful — was just a ridiculous foodie. He would run away at any opportunity, always ending up at some downtown eating establishment. His two favorites were the Farmers Market and Starbucks.

He would take himself on a walk downtown and come back hours later with a full belly. On one of these excursions he returned with his name written with permanent marker on his collar. No one ever confessed to doing this, but at least it was good to know people knew his name.

Not surprisingly, considering his gluttonous ways, Jack ended up with diabetes. He had to be given insulin injections twice a day. My dad would give him a carrot at the same time, I guess to distract him from the pain — although Jack, being a dog, inhaled the carrot so fast I always wondered if he was aware of actually consuming it.

Jack and his contemporary, Snickers, loved to go on walks. All we had to do was say “walk,” and they both went crazy. Even better, as we were walking, just by saying the word “cat” we could get both dogs straining at their leashes in a frenzy. Always entertaining.

I have known other lovely dogs in my life. My friend Erin Johnson’s family had a red setter named General. Great dog: stoic, polite, reserved. My aunt and uncle, Jerry and Elva, had a great black Lab, Ebony, who was calm and friendly and well-behaved, just what a dog should be.

But there have also been the annoying dogs. My grandma, Pauline, had a wretched Chihuahua named Sandy. Ugh. Sandy would hide under the couch and when you sat down he would snap his little teeth out and bite your ankle! Evil little thing. I’m sorry I can’t think of anything nice about Sandy, I think he may have given me a fear of sitting on couches for the rest of my life.

Sara Van Donge is a Walla Walla native and middle school dual language teacher. She can be reached at


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