Ponto Our Dog

OUR dog Ponto is a knowing old fellow. It is as good as a show to watch him sometimes. He has one quality that most of us might seek after with advantage—that is, a will to overcome difficulties that scarcely anything can hinder. If Ponto takes it into his head to do anything, he is pretty sure to succeed. What helps his dogship is the faculty of imitation. He is like a monkey in this, only a great deal more sensible than any monkey I ever heard tell of. You never catch him venturing upon unknown danger, or making himself ridiculous, because his human friends and companions choose to step aside from the ways of safety and respectability.

One day, a few years ago, Ponto was missing. He had been about as usual during the morning, but all at once disappeared. A neighbor told us that he had seen him fighting with the butcher’s dog about noon, and that he was getting the worst of it. I went over to the butcher’s during the afternoon, and the butcher’s boy confirmed the neighbor’s story. Ponto had come over there for a fight, as the boy said, and “got more than he bargained for.”

“He’ll not try it again very soon, I’m thinking,” added the boy, with a malicious pleasure.

“Do you know where he is now?” I asked.

“Home, I suppose. He went off that way, limping,” answered the boy.

“Was he much hurt?”

“Considerable, I guess.”

I went back home, but no one had seen Ponto. I was beginning to feel anxious about the dog, when he was found in one of the third-story rooms, snugly covered up in bed, with his head on the pillow. On turning down the clothes a sight met our eyes. The sheets were all stained with blood, and the  poor dog, hurt and exhausted, looked as helpless and pitiful as any human being.

Ponto standing, looking attentive

PONTO.

I will not tell you of all the wounds he had received. There were a great many of them, and some quite severe. “A good lesson for him,” we all said. And it proved so, for he was a little more careful after that how he got into a fight.

A few months before, I had been thrown from a wagon and badly hurt—so much so that I was confined to bed for a week. Ponto was with me at the time of the accident, and on my arrival at home followed me into the house and up to the chamber where I was taken. He watched every movement as I was laid in bed, and then sat down with his eyes on my pale face, regarding me with such looks of pity and interest that I was touched and surprised.

When Ponto’s turn came, he remembered the comfortable way in which I had been cared for, and profited by what he had seen. But his mistress, while she pitied the poor animal, did not fancy having her spare bedroom turned into a dog-hospital; and so we removed him to an out-house and made him as comfortable there as possible.

One cold winter evening Ponto was absent from his accustomed place in the hall, where he slept on a mat. The wind was high and there was a confusion of sounds outside.

“Hark!” said one.

We all listened.

“I thought I heard a knock at the hall door.”

“Only the wind,” was replied.

“Yes; there it is again.”

We all heard two distinct knocks, given quickly one after the other.

I arose, and going into the hall went to the front door and opened it. As I did so Ponto bounded in past me, gave two or three short, glad barks, and then paid his boisterous respects to the family in the sitting-room. I waited a moment, and then stepped out to see who had lifted the knocker, but found no one. Ponto had done it himself, as we had proof enough afterward;  for ever since that time he has used the knocker as regularly as any two-legged member of the family.

I could tell you stories for a whole evening about Ponto, but these two must answer for the present.