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My Memory of Haiti

From the age of three to six I lived in Panama. My father was stationed at an air base there during the last part of WWII. It was an interesting time for a young boy with so many unique things to see and do. My father was a radioman in the air force and they flew all over Central and South America. On one trip to the island of Haiti my father brought back a present for me. The present was named Meloff, he was a very handsome white poodle.


Me, Meloff and my father when we lived in Panama – 61 years ago.

This dog was amazing! He had been trained by a Portuguese breeder and trainer and he could do all kind of tricks. My father would say “Sit” and the dog would sit, he would say “Stay” “permanecer” and the dog would stay in one spot until you told him to come to you. When my father told the dog to “roll over” “capotagem” the dog would drop to the floor and roll over then stand back up.
I was amazed watching this wonderful present perform to perfection. Well of course since it was my pet it became my responsibility to feed, water and take the dog for walks on his leash to use the bathroom and also clean up his deposits and bring them back home. We started spending a lot of time alone together but a problem developed. The dog would not listen to me! When I told him to come he just sat there and looked at me so I had to tug on the leash firmly to get him to follow me. When I would try to get him to do some of the tricks I had seen him perform he just ignored me. When I became firm with him he would bite me! This of course hurt my feelings and made me mad so I hit him and he bit me again harder. It was not long before the dog would hide from me and wanted nothing to do with me. He was still my responsibility but I would have to crawl under the furniture, drag him out with a leash and get bitten in the process. When he bit me I hit him and he bit me again. The dog hated me!!
What hadn’t registered with this six year old boy was that my father was giving the commands in English followed by Portuguese. When my father came back home and discovered the strife going on between me and the dog he explained to me that the dog was raised by a Portuguese trainer and could not understand English!! My father taught me the Portuguese words for the commands I needed to use and wonder of wonders they worked. What ever I told the dog to do he did eagerly. I was so proud, the pet I wanted to love and take care for began to like me and before long we were the best of friends, as long as I spoke his language. It was also pretty neat that I was learning a new language. I also learned a lesson that stayed with me all of my life; we don’t all speak the same language but we are all the same regardless of the language we speak.
When we moved back to the United States I was not allowed to bring my dog with me, he was given to some friends who were still stationed at the air base. It broke my heart to leave my friend even though the friends were supposed to try to find a way to ship Meloff to me. Meloff never made it and I have no idea what ever happened to him.
The recent earthquakes in Haiti have reminded me of my lost friend several times. The tragedy, death and loss of all kinds in that island country are heart wrenching. It is unimaginable to think of the huge loss so many have suffered there. When I watch the news from Haiti I keep thinking at least I have one great memory that came from that country.

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A story from my very young years when I lived in Panama.

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Comments

  • Enivea
    Eniveaover 4 years ago

    This story moved me to tears Byron….you’re a great wonderful fellow ♥

  • Thank you so much, I was not surehow this would read in light of the horrible happenings there now, it is a memory for me that comes to mind every time i watch the news. I was actually in on the island once for part of a day.

    – barnsis

  • WhiteDove Studio kj gordon
    WhiteDove Stud...over 4 years ago

    wonderful story………..one love brah’…………

  • Thanks KJ, this is the one I mentioned to you, just got around to writing it today.

    – barnsis

  • SusanP-MI
    SusanP-MIover 4 years ago

    You just personalized Haiti for me, and i thank you. Over the past five years or so I have become so overwhelmed with the tragedies the world over that I did a better job of shutting myself off than I would ever intend to.

    It is amazing how the idea of a dog being lost to a small boy can point to the reality of life lost or forever changed for literally everything on a small island.

  • Thank you so much, this is the exact feeling I have about this story but I didn’t feel like I could adequately convey the feeling yet I had to try.

    – barnsis

  • BCallahan
    BCallahanover 4 years ago

    This was so well written, byron…i’m really sorry that 6 year old Byron couldn’t take his beloved friend back to the states with him… and kids that age cannot understand. This happens many times at military instillations, someone has a pet, has to leave, and is forced to leave the pet behind. We were blessed with a beautiful white persian cat at allow us to live with her…lol… and she blessed us with many litters of kittens, which we were always able to place in homes. We could never afford to take her to the vet to have her “fixed”, so the litters kept coming….
    your story really speaks to me of a broken heart… and of a recent events in Haiti that brought the memory alive again. Bless little Byron’s heart that he had to give up his puppy!!! barb

  • Thank you so much, we came back on a ship so there were no accommodations for pets.

    – barnsis

  • Kimberley  x ♥ Davitt
    Kimberley x ♥...over 4 years ago

    Such a sweet story byron, i feel for the sd 6 yr old leaving his feind behind.

    (Have you posted this before as it sounds fmiliar?)

  • Thank you Kim, no this one is hot off the press just today. Maybe you read my story about my pet pig? { :>)

    – barnsis

  • Susan Bergstrom
    Susan Bergstromover 4 years ago

    What a great story Bro…it is amazing that we sometimes have more vivid memories of our relationships with animales or the impact they have on us then we do humans…makes me think back on all the critters I have had since I was a child and what they came to mean to me. Never had to leave one behind… but have been with dozens of them as they passed over the rainbow bridge…Another GREAT read!

  • Thank you my twin, I think I remember each and every one.

    – barnsis

  • Virginia McGowan
    Virginia McGowanover 4 years ago

    Wonderful way of writing down memories. Fabulous life you have lived too seeing so much of the world.Haiti now is just heart wrenching although I always did feel for them over the last decades for some reason we here received a lot of news about the terrible time the dictators, gave them .I did notice however everyone looks healthy [well not now of course] no obesity I wonder perhaps no Maccas ?? I have had two poodles one black and one white. I am sure they’d die for the person they love…

  • Thank you ginny, yes the country has been in bad shape for a long time. Now it is worse but maybe in the long run those left will have a better life since the world has had its eyes opened to their plight.

    – barnsis

  • Ushna Sardar
    Ushna Sardarover 4 years ago

  • Thank you so much what an awesome surprise.

    – barnsis

  • Pamela Phelps
    Pamela Phelpsover 4 years ago

    Nicely written Byron, strange the things that trigger memories, yes?

  • Thank you very much, you are right about the triggers.

    – barnsis

  • LauraBroussard
    LauraBroussardover 4 years ago

    You are a wonderful documentarian :)
    It’s nice when someone can take us on a journey…… the way you do.

  • Thank you so much, I do appreciate that you took the time to read this.

    – barnsis

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