Nicknames: Moose, Pandy Badandy, Dutchess, Xena, She who Must be Obeyed, The Smart dog, Pandamoanium
Likes: Brain rubs.
Pet-Peeves: Sirens and thunder. Being alone.
Favorite Toy: My pal Puddinhead.
Favorite Food: Frosty Paws, beef jerky, anything that my people eat and I'll howl until I get it.
Favorite Walk: Point Isabel dog park
Arrival Story: I was found running down Fourth Street in San Rafael. I had three homes before I was six months old. After I made a bit of a mess, my last person let me go to find my way in the world. I got lucky because the person who found me, knew that her sister was looking for a dog companion.
Bio: My appearance changed quite a lot over the years. The black and white picture is me at six months old. I lost my mask, but I was always a beautiful girl. I lived a long happy life and went to doggy heaven on March 27, 2003.
Nancy stands at the sink, rinsing off a few recently-used pans and stacking them on the wire drying rack. Bonnie Raitt and her band rock the stereo at high volume. Suddenly a frying pan slips from the rack and clatters explosively on the hard flooring.
Wearily, she stoops and grasps the heavy pan. In the family room, Puddin swivels her little head towards the kitchen and then resumes watching the backyard birdfeeder for trespassing squirrels. Sprawled out on the sofa, Panda rouses herself, slips to the floor and saunters towards the kitchen.
“Hey! Keep it down, will’ya? It’s time for my nap.”
Nancy doesn’t recognize this voice – it is feminine, low pitched, kind of boomy and slightly slurred. She puts down the pan, walks to the stereo, and dials down the volume.
“Is somebody there?” (Growing more impatient) “Who’s there?” “Much better, thank you.” The new voice is back. It sounds close by to Nancy, in the same room. “This is not funny. Show yourself.” Nancy becomes more agitated, while Puddin yawns. “Stupid dog, don’t you smell anybody?” The strange voice answers, “I’ve done my best, but she will never be the brightest hunter in the pack.”
Panda looks up towards her with her usual sweet smile. Nancy suddenly feels faint; she grabs blindly for a nearby chair. Slowly, she sinks to a sitting position on the floor. Now Panda and Nancy are face-to-face.
“You can TALK? Since when? Why didn’t you ever talk to me before?” "I learned your talk years ago, but I never felt the need to use it. It’s …tiring, for my mouth.” Panda settles back on her haunches and pants, her pink tongue lolling. Holding her hand over her mouth, Nancy stares with disbelieving eyes.
“We always understood each other, even without words. You knew I was happy when you pulled out a treat. You knew I was frustrated when she wouldn’t stop teasing me.” Panda tosses her head in the general direction of Puddin – who has begun watching them with mild interest. “You knew I was challenged when people and dogs passed by our home. You knew I was annoyed when you chased me from the soft part of the sofa by looming over my face with your hind end.” Nancy’s face takes on a sheepish expression. Panda pauses to rest. Both pups cock their ears towards the sound of a rumbling motor from the garage. “But, why did you suddenly start talking today?” asks Nancy.
Panda rises to her feet and strolls toward the hall, trailed by her terrier. David meets the traditional howls and barks and contests for affection in the crowded hallway. “Hello ladies, have you been good today?” After greetings and pets have been exchanged, the group splits up and David heads for the family room.
“Snookums! How was your day off?” Nancy is still seated on the rug. She responds weakly, “I was talking with Panda.” David chuckles. “I’ll bet she wanted f-o-o-o-od,” drawing out the last word into a panda-like howl. Watching them, Panda puts her head down on folded forepaws.
“She asked me to turn down the stereo.” “Was it Sarah McLaughlin?” David glances towards Panda’s face as he prepares to warble yet another chorus of “we are booorrnnnn innooooocennnt…” “David, you’re not listening to me. Panda asked me to turn down the stereo.” Panda slowly and obviously rolls her eyes. David feels an icy chill run up his spine. “I can’t believe it! Dogs can’t talk! They don’t understand English!”
Panda interrupts him: “Oh please, let’s not go over all that again.” David subsides in a state of horrified fascination. There’s a long pause and then Nancy speaks softly. “I asked you, why are you speaking to us now?”
Panda turns to lock eyes with Nancy. Her gaze is steady, her voice soft but powerful. Puddin finds a nearby spot to listen in. “I’m getting on now and I can hardly remember being the half-wild, half-grown thing you brought home so long ago.
I know you sometimes thought of giving me away then, especially when I took out my frustrations on your possessions. I know I was a shock to you after ‘Saint Jenny’ (believe me, I got so tired of hearing about her). I know I was the willful escape artist when you tried to fence me in at that little smelly house. I know you now prefer little Puddin to cuddle while sleeping. Puddin stretches and sighs, circles three times and curls into a sleepy ball.
All these things I know, because dogs know people, and dogs love people, no matter what happens between them. And what I wanted to say to you is that I have learned something very important from you. I’ve learned that people’s love for their dogs can be the same beautiful unshakable bond. I hope you will never think me ungrateful for your constant love and understanding, and that you forgive my foolishness of long ago. I am forever your loving daughter.”
Although she never again spoke aloud, Panda always kept the love of her family and lived a long, happy, and contented life.