Dog Blog: A magical dog named Merlin

The Irish love their dogs, but aren't a big fans of cats, according to several studies about pet ownership in Ireland. Several countries were in the studies and Ireland was unequivocally a nation of dog lovers, typically showing a preference for larger dogs.

One may ask, why? Researchers believe the Irish bias toward dogs may be linked to the significance and prevalence of farming and rural life in Ireland, and the fact that many more Irish citizens live in spacious houses, rather than small apartments. The study also states that in Ireland, dogs are viewed as useful in the rural area where there are farms and the dogs were considered part of the working household.

Allen McKibbin, keeping step with his homeland, loves big dogs.

Allen is a supervisor in the construction industry, working all over the place managing up to 40 crew members. One day on the way to a site, Allen spotted a large animal wandering in the street. When he reached it he said, "Oh, my god, it's a dog!" Fearing the dog might have gotten hit he pushed it into the back of the truck and off to his work site they went.

Upon arrival the big dog sat in the back of the truck quietly until the lunch-time smells hit his nose.

Then this massive 180-pound dog jumped from the back of the truck and headed for the crew, who were all seated for lunch. He then went up to crew members and stood in front of each one of them looking up at the crew member then at the lunch, then the crew member then back to lunch. He just stood there looking — he did not bark, beg, or wag his tail, he just sat, looking up and down.

Crew members, at first intimidated by this quite large dog, then gave up part of their lunch. One by one he sat looking up, down, up, down until part of the lunch was donated. Then he would quietly move to the next. By the time the dog got toward the end of the line the guys at front of the line were yelling to the end, "Better decide now what part of your lunch you want to donate to the dog!" Everyone on the crew was laughing and shaking their heads — most of all Allen.

The dog seemed to know when lunch time was over and went quietly back to lay in the truck bed.

Allen at this point had no real interest in having a dog due to his work schedule (six days a week, 10 to 12 hours per day) thinking that wouldn't be fair to the dog. But on this day he stood observing this beast with a bit of wonder. Where had he learned his manners? Why is he so quiet? How old is he? Where are his owners?

Once at home Allen decided to do the same thing many people do, try and locate his owners, and buy some dog food — lots of dog food. He ran an ad in two newspapers for more than a week.

Meanwhile, what to do with the dog? He decided to just take the dog to work with him.

Off to work they went, much to the pleasure of all the crew who had brought extra lunch in anticipation of the dog's return.

Weeks went by and there was no word from any possible owners. Allen then contacted the animal shelters and inquired if anyone had come in with a lost dog report fitting the dog's description — no one had.

Next question was what to name this gentle giant? The dog was magical so Merlin came to mind and his big dog's new name became Merl.

An unfortunate thing is common on construction sites because of a somewhat transient crew — tools seem to just disappear.

Merl had become very protective of his owner, guarding Allen's truck and tools. As gentle as Merl was, if anyone except Allen came near the tool box Merl would take an attack type of stance and growl, stare the guy down until the guy would slowly back off. Every crew member knew not to get near the tool box.

As a joking initiation for the new guys, Allen would ask the new guy to go get him a tool from the truck. Merl would do his guard duty job and sent the poor guy running back to Alan at the speed of lighting, horrified and screaming "The dog is going to kill me, HELP!" of course all the tenured guys and Alan broke into gut-wrenching laughter.

Merl went to work with Allen every day and slept on the bed with him every night. Allen would get up every morning and call to Merl, "Come on boy, let's go to work." Every morning Merl was in the truck before Allen was. Merl was always full of energy and ready for work — ready for his day of guarding the tools and lunching with the guys.

This went on for 14 years until one morning Allen called out, "Come on boy, let's go to work" and there was no jumping Merl. Allen, at first angry, called "Come on, we are going to be late." Still no Merl — he had passed peacefully in his sleep. Not a whimper, not a stir.

Allen was inconsolable — matched by the sorrow of the crew — and the callout became, "Come on boy, sleep well."

PEGI LOPEZ lives in Laguna Beach. Anyone with a funny or interesting story about their pet may send it to her at dogbloglaguna@yahoo.com.

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