The Perfect Dog
In the summer of 1967, when I was ten years old, my father caved into my persistent pleas and took me to get my own dog. Together we drove in the family station wagon far into the Michigan countryside to a farm run by a rough-hewn woman and her ancient mother. The farm produced just one commodity—dogs. Dogs of every imaginable size and shape and age and temperament. They had only two things in common: each was a mongrel of unknown and distinct ancestry, and each was free to a good home.
I quickly decided the older dogs were somebody else’s charity case. I immediately raced to the puppy cage. “You want to pick one that’s not timid,” my father coached. “Try rattling the cage and see which ones aren’t afraid.”
I grabbed the chain-link gate and yanked on it with a loud clang. The dozen or so puppies reeled backward, collapsing on top of one another in a squiggling heap of fur. Just one remained. He was gold with a white blaze on his chest, and he charged at the gate, yapping fearlessly. He jumped up and excitedly licked my fingers through the fencing. It was love at first sight.
I brought him home in a cardboard box and named him Shaun. He was one of those dogs that give dogs a good name. He effortlessly mastered every command I taught him and was naturally well-behaved. I could drop a crust on the floor and he would not touch it until I gave the okay.
Relatives would visit for the weekend and returned home determined to buy a dog of their own, so impressed were they with Shaun – or “Saint Shaun”, as I came to call him. Born with the curse of an uncertain lineage, he was one of the tens of thousands of unwanted dogs in America. Yet by some stroke of almost providential good fortune, he became wanted. He came into my life and I into his – and in the process, he gave me the childhood every kid deserves.
The love affair lasted fourteen years, and by the time he died I was no longer the little boy who had brought him home on that summer day. I was a man, out of college and working across the state in my first real job. Saint Shaun had stayed behind when I moved on. It was where he belonged. My parents, by then retired, called to break the news to me. My mother would later tell me, “In fifty years of marriage, I’ve only seen your father cry twice. The first time was when we lost Mary Ann” – my sister, who was still-born. “The second time was the day Shaun died.”
Saint Shaun of my childhood. He was a perfect dog. At least that’s how I will always remember him. It was Shaun who set the standard by which I would judge all other dogs to come.
(Marley and Me by John Grogan)
1.1 Based on your reading of the passage, complete the following statements.
(a) The dog farm was run by ________________________________.
(b) The author did not want an old dog because ______________________________.
(c) He fell in love with the dog the moment the latter _______________________.
(d) Shaun became so obedient that he ______________________ until the author allowed him.
(e) After visiting them, their relatives wanted ________________________.
(f) When Shaun died even _______________________.
1.2 Find words from the passage which mean the same as the following.
(a) urgent requests (para 1)
(b) falling (para 3)
(a) A rough-hewn woman and her ancient mother.
(b) He decided the older dogs were somebody else’s charity case.
(c) Jumped up and excitedly licked the author’s fingers through the fencing.
(d) Would not touch a crust dropped on the floor.
(e) Return determined to buy a dog for themselves.
(f) The author’s father cried.
(a) Persistent pleas