Arlo the Hero Hound
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
Every dog is different, every dog is special, and every dog is capable of amazing and wonderful feats out of love, strength, and the desire to please. This is the story of one extraordinary puppy, named Arlo, who saved my life.
Arlo’s parents are two beautiful Beagles; Daisy, a ticked tri color, who was two years old at the time; and Elmer, a perfect specimen of a tri color, who was five. When Daisy went into heat, their owner, Barry, would keep her in her crate whenever she could not be supervised to prevent the two from mating. However, she and Elmer managed to play Houdini, and free her from her crate while Barry was at work on two occasions.
As the weeks went by we watched Daisy grow chubby. With a visit to the vet about six weeks after the first escape, we knew she was pregnant. The normal gestation period for a dog is around nine weeks, and sure enough, nine weeks later it was time.
I arrived at Barry’s house about five hours after the eight puppies were delivered on March 7th. Daisy had given birth while Barry was at work, and this being her second litter, she did a beautiful job. I removed each puppy from the whelping box and passed them to Barry one at a time to be examined. Two of the puppies were substantially smaller, had extreme cleft palates, were unable to nurse, and were being rejected by Daisy and the other puppies. Despite our best attempts at nursing them with a bottle and keeping them warm, they did not make it. The remaining six, however, were strong, healthy and active. Five of them were about the size of gerbils, and one was more than twice the size of the rest. When I removed him from the box I noticed a white mark just above his shoulder blades that looked exactly like the famous Bat Signal from the Batman comics and movies. I also noticed that he was already a dead ringer for his dad Elmer, who was my dear dog friend. I was the first person to lay my hands on this precious pup, and I was already in love.
I already had a dog, Elsa, and a live-in boyfriend, Bryan. She was a ten year mix breed whose mother was a Lab, and father was a Lab/German Shepherd mix. Elsa was our best friend; she was also our protector, our bed warmer, and often, the sounding board for my writing. Bryan didn’t want another dog, but that didn’t stop me from going to Barry’s every day to hold the puppy we’d temporarily named Batman. Bryan would play online poker with Barry’s roommate and I would dote on Batman and the other puppies, carrying Batman to see him and asking him over and over again if he’d ever seen such an adorable puppy.
Two months went by and people began responding to Barry’s ad in the paper. When the puppies were ready to be weaned, most of them, especially the girls, were spoken-for; but Batman remained because I promised Barry I would wear Bryan down, which I did.
By the time we were ready to take Batman home, his “Bat Signal” had stretched to just a white splotch. I had intended to name him Bruce (as in Bruce Wayne) but it was no longer fitting, so we agonized over a list of names. We thought about Dylan, Buster, Gabriel (we’d call him Gabe), Aristotle (we’d call him Ari), and Arlo (after my favorite folk singer, Arlo Guthrie) among others. We tried each name out as he romped around Barry’s living room. It wasn’t until the little pup set his sights on Barry’s Xbox cords that we knew his name. As he began to paw at the cords, trying to get them within biting range, Bryan said “Arlo, come here” and the puppy looked up, and bounced over to us. So Arlo was his name and he became part of our family.
A month later, it was summer and Bryan moved away to pursue a job at the beach; so it was just Elsa, Arlo and myself in a big lonely house. Shortly after, Elsa developed a fast-acting and deadly neurological disease and passed on within a week of showing symptoms. I think it was hardest on Arlo, who had grown to completely adore his cranky big sister, though she wanted little to do with him. So Arlo and I continued on. I grew to love living alone, and Arlo made a wonderful roommate.
Autumn fell on Greenville, North Carolina, and before we knew it Thanksgiving had come and gone. We lived five blocks from the East Carolina University Campus, so our neighborhood was a ghost town around the holidays. It was the day after Thanksgiving and walking little Arlo around my front yard, there wasn’t a soul or car in sight. None of the houses on the street even had any lights on, and it was only 7:30 on the dark and chilly evening.
Arlo and I were standing near the curb and out of nowhere a pickup truck pulled up in the bike lane in front of my house. A man in a baseball cap was driving, and a man in a camouflage hat and flannel jumped out of the bed of the pickup. I had Arlo’s leash around my left wrist and he grabbed it, as well as my right wrist. The driver leaned over and pushed the passenger door open and the man who had a hold of me said “get in” and threw me towards the truck.
I was nearly paralyzed with terror, but I managed to get one hand free and push against the open door so as to not be shoved in the truck. As I was attempting to squirm away from my assailant, little eight-month-old Arlo latched on to the man’s calf. He kicked his leg high in the air but Arlo held on with the tenacity of a pit bull. At one point, Arlo’s paws were several feet off the ground and he finally let go. The man’s leg was gushing blood as he screamed profanity and jumped into the truck. They drove off with a dramatic swerve and screeching tires, and mere moments after it had begun, the horrifying event was over.
Now Arlo is two years old. We live in a house in Maryland and we have roommates. He is probably the most spoiled Beagle there ever was. He sleeps under the covers with me every night. Besides a case of separation anxiety on his part, and a tiny, almost invisible scar from rope burn from the leash on my wrist, we have both recovered from the incident completely and are happy to have the chance to tell such an amazing story. The love of a dog knows no bounds, and I will be the first to tell you that if you are prepared for the challenge and responsibility of owning a dog, you absolutely should.