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
“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.
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
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.