Leo was our very first own dog. My parents had a dog or two when I was very young, but I never had a dog of my own. We first met Leo when we went to visit a colleague of George who moved from California to Holland with his wife and two Shelties, Leo and Lisa. Leo was the most beautiful Sheltie I had ever seen, but to be honest, he was also the very FIRST Sheltie I saw! He was a very dark mahogany sable and white male Sheltie, bred by Peggy Haderlie of Sumersong kennels in the USA. As his pedigree was never certified (possibly due to the fraud by Banchory's Donna Harden, nobody knows his exact date of birth. Leo had a lovely expression and to me he was very masculine and he had unbelievable prick ears! They almost fell backwards
Due to unknown circumstances he was unfortunate to have several owners before we met him. Obviously we only know the last ones. They lived in Silicon Valley and had another Sheltie called Lisa. In their care, Leo was notorious for running away. He once ran across the BUSIEST intersection in the area and was lucky enough to survive the unauthorized outing.. I'm guessing he had nine lives like a cat. The most awful time was when he ran away while they were camping in Joshua Tree National Park. He got lost for two weeks in the sizzling heat of the desert summer.. There were a couple of sightings, but apparently he spooked every time they tried to catch him. After two very long weeks they finally managed to lure him back to them, using Lisa as bait. He had lost quite some weight, but must have hunted and found water, cause he was in a rather good shape. Anyway, the owner got a job in the Netherlands and so he and his wife took the dogs and went to Holland. This was in 1987 when Leo was maybe 8 years old or so. Unfortunately Leo was a little too interested in Lisa and soon after their arrival in Holland the owner told his coworkers he was looking for another home for Leo cause his hormones were driving them crazy. We felt sorry for the little guy and George said we could give it a try. We had two cats at the time so I was a little worried about that, but I need not have worried at all, as one of my cats (Brutus the Blue Point Siamese) actually fell in love with this adorable dog. We had an interspecies relationship in our home So everything turned out just fine and we became his new owners (probably nr. 4 or 5)! Up to this date I do not understand why all other owners gave up on him.
Leo was best known for his singing.. he was the best singer in the world. His song was absolutely beautiful and he would only 'sing' on our initiative. When we sort of 'sang' his name: "Leoleoleeeooooooo', he'd start howling. One time we took him to a Zoo nearby, where they have a beautiful pack of wolves in a 4,5 acres semi-natural enclosure with European black bears. We made Leo sing his song and the wolves came to the fence to howl with him! That was a fantastic experience I will never ever forget.
Leo accompanied us on all our travels through Europe. He's been to many amazing and interesting places.. He once even saved me from being mugged in Vienna. Many people fled from Romania to Austria during Ceauºescu's reign. They were very poor and needy people. In that same period Leo and I accompanied George on a business trip to Vienna. We stayed in the Marriott hotel which is across the city park. Very convenient with a dog, LOL.. Actually dogs were not allowed in that particular hotel, but Apple made luxurious arrangements for many staff members and to keep Apple happy Marriott bent the rules for us. So at times you could see me walk towards the entrance of the hotel with the 'no dogs allowed' sign on the door and the doorman would bow for us and open the door.. and in we went.. I felt like royalty over there! ha ha! Anyway, while George was in conferences, Leo and I walked around the 'stadt' park many times and one day I decided to sit down on a park bench and watch the ducks in the lake. Leo made himself comfortable underneath the bench. Suddenly a gypsy type couple came up to me asking for money cause their kid was sick. I had my purse sitting next to me on the bench. And in the blink of an eye I saw another person behind me trying to grab my purse or who knows maybe me. Well, Leo acted like the hellhound Cerberus.. It was as if he indeed had three heads and he scared the muggers to death Needless to say I was proud beyond words!! What a good boy he was!
Like many dogs, his favorite thing in the world was food. And sleeping was the next best thing to food! You could always find him on a comfy chair or on someone's bed. He had never learned how to play and was in fact a senior when he came to us, but when Shelley came into our lives she proved to be a good teacher. The two would often race around the yard, playing 'catch me if you can'. I'm sure though that Leo's intentions were not to 'play' LOL... But he was not as obnoxious as he had supposedly been with Lisa. My favorite memory is when he was lying somewhere and Shelley would swing our national soccer mascot toy in front of his face. It was an orange lion with a long tail. She had the tail in her mouth and would swing the body in front of his face. He would grab it and while he remained lying down they'd play tug-o-war.. That was soo adorable. Every time he lost his grip, she would swing the toy in front of his face again. He was rather lazy than tired a real couch-potato! Sometimes he would even eat lying down..
Anyway when we got him we knew nothing about dogs at all. In fact I was more of a kitty person.. But the unconditional love and trust he gave us, made us fall in love with him forever, surpassing death...October 5, 1992 was a sad day when we had to leave him at the vet's office for surgery. We had no idea we would never see him again, for it would be a routine surgery. But when they opened his belly they discovered his bladder was filled with huge bleeding tumors. So they called us and asked us what to do and we opted not to let him wake up from the anesthetic. It would have been selfish if we had him wake up again and then euthanize him anyway.. I still feel bad about his lonely goodbye to this world.. He deserved better. As it was not a custom to have a pet cremated individually these days, I have nothing other left than his collar and all the beautiful memories of a great and wonderful companion, who would go great lengths to protect me.
Thank you Leo, our protector, our "pooperdoggy", our "jochie", for the unconditional love you gave us and for all the fun times we had. They will last us a lifetime!