To all the dogs I’ve loved
Before — and still do!

Oct 30, 2001 7:15 AM

MAN’S BEST FRIEND! It should come as no shock ”” especially since I am a dog lover ”” that I believe a pet is man’s best friend. There was once a time, when a horse was so great, he had no challengers. But, he still had to walk over the finish line to be declared the official winner.

The same could apply to dogs.

Dogs ”” mainly French bulls ”” have been at my side for more years than I can recall. Looking back, it’s worth noting that I originally never thought dogs belonged in a house. That’s the way it was in the city where I grew up. Thank goodness things have changed.

When I moved to the suburbs I responded to the urgings of my son. He always wanted a dog. Tongue in cheek I consented. It didn’t take long to fall in love. Our very first Frenchie was named Ciarluzzo. That’s Italian for Charlie. Charlie was the best. He taught me the joy of loving a pet. He asked for little in return. A loving pat on the head got the job done for Charlie. When he died, I lost a real pal. But, I was determined that there would be other Charlies. And, there have been ”” Cheech, Frankie, Johnnie and Dino.

In the past two weeks two dear friends lost their dogs. I feel their pain. If you love dogs, you’ll know what I mean.

Listen to Sandy Mecca: “We said goodbye to Yogi. He was 8 years old and 2 months. And, for every day of those eight years, he gave us a warm heart and a wagging tail. His big, brown eyes were always full of love. Yogi, was an English Springer spaniel. Now he is gone. I still wait in anticipation for his footsteps. I still long for the soft nudge of his nose, the sound of him bounding into the kitchen at dinnertime, the slurp of his water bowl, the softness of his coat and the gentleness of his paw touching my arm ”” please pet me!

Yogi, I love you. I hope he waits for us. Someone said he would.”

Sandy named Yogi’s brother, Chap. Mike came up with the name Yogi.

“Sandy asked me to name Yogi after she named Chap. It was easy. I named him in honor of Yogi Berra, my all-time favorite baseball player,” Mike Mecca said.

I’m writing this column today in memory of all the wonderful pets who have nudged up against their owners asking for nothing in return except a pat on the head or a little treat.

Also last week Nick and Juanita Santoro, two really nice people who love dogs, lost Buddy. The Airdale Terrior was a companion since his birth 13 years ago.

“He wasn’t really the pick of the litter, but he won my heart. I lost one of the best friends I ever had,” Santoro said. “He died in my arms.”

Someone needs to say something nice about their pets. Plenty do. But, if you’re not in the group, let this piece be a wakeup call.

I’ve been told there’s a bridge that connects heaven and earth. It is called Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass. It’s where beloved pets go when they die. It is said that the old and frail animals are young again. They play all day with each other. The only thing missing are their beloved owners. They await their masters crossing the bridge where they will re-unite, I hope I haven’t gotten too heavy. I’m only expressing how I feel. I hope you understand.

DOG LOVERS OF NOTE! Here’s to Dean Harrold and Vicki LePore two long-time gaming executives who know all about the love of a dog. They have founded Flea Bags, Barkery and Bow-tique. It’s a specialty store that will offer high quality treats and accessories for dogs and cats. It’s slated to open at the Eastern Marketplace Plaza (Eastern and St. Rose Parkway) on November 17th.