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Boku, a beautiful, golden cocker spaniel puppy joined our family soon after we moved into our Tsujido house in August 1964. He became the constant companion and friend of us all; even the neighbors didn’t seem to mind his frequent “visits,” although the vegetable shop owners in our neighborhood might have.
Like most dogs, Boku wasn’t fond of cats, especially the one which was always sleeping on the vegetables and fruit on sale at the local shop. He didn’t like that cat and would terrorize it until it and the tomatoes were flying in all directions.
Boku was Stuart and Leslie’s best friend, but they also quickly became friends with two boys and the housewives in our neighborhood. No one spoke much English, but the boys knew “hubba hubba”, most likely words used by the American GIs during Occupation days; consequently, this new group of friends became known as the “hubba hubba gang.”
Stuart and Leslie evidently heard the boys in this gang call themselves “boku” and started to call themselves the same – even Leslie. So, it was natural for them to name our new puppy Boku.
He didn’t like to be left alone and if the fusuma doors were closed between the 4 1/2 and 6 mat rooms in our house he would tear a hole in the fusuma to go through. That door was patched many times!
When we returned to the US in 1966 Boku went too. He quickly explored our new neighborhood in Eugene, Oregon. What a pleasure it must have been for him to find the University of Oregon campus nearby where students would share their meals with him at the Student Union or at sports events. He knew the campus well and I once found him waiting for me outside of the building where I was taking a class.
In the winter of 1968-69 we stayed with Don’s parents, waiting for our visa to return to Japan. During that time Boku became a fan of Don’s dad, who loved his wife’s homemade cookies, and every time he opened that cookie jar Boku heard it and went to beg a cookie for himself.
In March of 1969 we returned to Japan and Boku flew over a couple of months later when we had found a rental in Kugenuma-kaigan. Boku welcomed all of our friends and students, but one day decided to explore outside the house and yard when a friend left the front gate open by mistake.
We never could find Boku and we were all heartsick; Stuart said he often dreamt of Boku. We thought that a new dog might take Boku’s place in our hearts so we bought Henry, a black and white cocker spaniel, but, although we loved her dearly, she never took Boku’s place. It’s been hard for us to find another pet as special as Boku nor better friends than those “hubba hubba” boys and their mothers.
Note: Stuart and Leslie are my children, and Don is my husband.