To make a long story short, I got into a bunch of trouble when I was in junior high school. Not long after, my family relocated from Dallas to Southlake, a good half-hour away. At the time, Southlake was still somewhat out in the boons, a small satellite city that boasted a Dairy Queen, a state championship football team, and not much else.
The timing of the move stunk — we moved at the beginning of the summer, and my new school would not start up for several more months. I was 15 years old, a half-year away from getting a driver’s license, living out in the middle of nowhere, far away from the few friends I had. It was hot outside, so I was stuck indoors without cable television. I suppose I could have done something productive like get a job–oh wait, I couldn’t get to a job without a car now, could I? Young, sad, lonely, bored, and under stimulated, there was only one thing which could save the day. I needed a new best friend.
So my new summer project was to get a dog. And not just any ol’ dog…he had to be big, outdoorsy, smart, and totally dedicated to me. Based on my mother’s recommendation, I decided to get a Labrador Retriever. I spent a ton of time putting research into it all, reading about AKC registrations, the best prices to pay, and how to research afflictions such as hip displacia. It wasn’t long before I was an expert on the breed, and I started spending every Sunday looking through the classified ads.
One Sunday, I found a dog shopper’s wet dream in the following ad:
Black lab puppies, AKC registered, all shots, 8 weeks, $25.
Wait a minute, I thought. Way too cheap to be true. Most of the prices I had seen for quality pups were well over $250. I called the owner, and told him there must be a mistake. Nope, he said, all the pups were indeed twenty-five bucks a pop. The man bred Labradors as a hobby, but he had just been transferred out-of-state and was forced to have a fire sale.
My father drove me over to Euless to get my dog. I met the owner, and he took me into the backyard to meet the litter. Their mother was lying along the back fence, spent and dead-asleep. It was meal-time, and her horde of kids swarmed around the breakfast table. I walked to the opposite end of the yard, turned to face the crown, and whistled loudly. One pup, a black Lab with a white chest and feet as big as its head, stopped what he was doing and walked across the broad lawn to visit me. That was how I found Gos and took him home.
This hound was smart as a whip. In just one day, I taught Gos to fetch the morning newspaper. Between our house and the street we lived on was a broad acre of land. It was cut into quarters by a bridge-covered creek and dusty front drive. One day, I took Gos outside onto the front porch, looked at him and said, “Gos! Go get the paper!” He looked at me with that slightly-cocked head, which was how he expressed showing attention. His radar ears sprung up when I mentioned the emphasized word, one that he had heard often when my father fetched the newspaper each morning. I pointed towards the street and continued, “Go on, Gos! Paper!” He became excited, his attention darting between me and down the driveway. One more “Get the paper” from and BOOM! Off was Gos, dashing down the driveway, across the bridge, and finally to the street. Within seconds, my best friend was rushing back with a mouthful of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.
The next day, I was eager to show off to my dad. The three of us gathered on the front porch, my father barefoot in his bathrobe. I gave the command and Gos zoomed away. Soon he was running back up the driveway with the newspaper. Then he jumped off the bridge into the creek, ran to the property next door, and finished off the exhibition by burying the paper in our neighbor’s flower bed. My father cussed a storm, threw on his clothes, and drove to the nearby gas station to purchase a replacement.
Along came the third day and there we were again on the front porch. Once again I pointed, once again I commanded, and once again my puppy was off on his quest. After crossing the bridge, I lost track of Gos amongst the trees and early-morning fog. I called for him and heard the jingle of his collar. A canine silhouette emerged from the mist, and I saw Gos flying towards home. In his mouth was the paper –or something about that size. As he got closer, I saw it wasn’t the newspaper. As he came closer, I saw that he was carrying something which was moving. By the time he reached the porch, I saw that he was carrying a squealing, flailing, pissed-off mole! I screamed, jumped back into the house, and slammed closed the front door. The last thing I saw was Gos cock his head to the side as if to say, “Umm?”
My mother heard the commotion and yelled at me to not slam the door. Exasperated, I said, “Th-th-the dog’s got a freakin’ mole in his mouth!” We both rushed to the kitchen window and witnessed an amazing sight. Gos was taking the mole, pitching it high into the air, and smacking it across the lawn like a baseball. The mole would fly into the outfield that was our farm and hit the ground running. Gos would chase after, sweep him up and begin the next at-bat. The final out came when he gave the mole a giant heave across the fence — the creature scampered far away. And never returned. Since that morning, we never had moles bother our farm ever again.
And that is how my best friend got his name: Sergeant Gos, Mole Patrol.