Reprinted from the Sebastian Gazette.


Our quest for “Lucky” began when we overheard a conversation between one of our reporters and the receptionist, who is a Filipino.

   “He remembers his past life,” the receptionist said. “He claimed he grew up on a coconut plantation in Mindanao. My friend checked out all the things he remembers and everything fits. He knows people’s names and who they are, and he can describe them perfectly. It’s amazing!”

   “How old is he?” the reporter asked.

   “He’s three.”

   “He’s a child?”

   “No, he’s a dog. His name is Lucky.”

   The reporter laughed out loud. “Well, how does the dog communicate all this past life information?” She asked snidely, “Does he talk too?”

   “That’s right,” the receptionist said. “He speaks Filipino.”

   The reporter scoffed and walked away. “Whatever you say, Maria!”

   The editor is known for a fondness for human interest stories and also for dog stories. The possible story of “Lucky” was a windfall for me for three reasons. I was on his short list for downsizing, I had not yet written a suitable story for this week’s edition, and all I had to do to start this remarkable report was cross the room.

   When the chatty reporter left, I took up my notepad and rolled my chair over to the receptionist’s desk to begin my investigation of this remarkable pooch.

   But, as soon as I started taking notes, the receptionist clammed up. “I’m not sure my friend would want her privacy invaded with a newspaper story about her dog,” she said.

   “We can protect your friend’s privacy by withholding her name,” I said. “So, your friend is a woman?”

   “What about the dog’s name?” she asked.

   “We can give him an alias.”

   We settled on using the name “Lucky.”

   The receptionist called her friend on her own cell phone and asked if I could do a story on the dog. These negotiations were conducted in the Filipino language, Tagalog.

   “You can go over there tomorrow night at seven o’ clock,” Maria said as she hung up the phone.

   “Maybe you should go along. You know, to introduce me to her.”

   “I would, but Lucky doesn’t talk anymore when I’m around.”

   “Why not?”

   “He sounds so funny when he speaks Tagalog, it always cracks me up. I think it’s because of the shape of his mouth. I can’t stop laughing when I hear him. So he was offended, I think.”

   “I see. Well. Okay.”

   One more thing,” Maria said. “You’ll want to stop at a pet store on the way and buy plenty of catnip.”  

   “Catnip? What for?”

   “He only talks when he’s had catnip, and he likes a lot of it.”

   “How much is a lot?”

   “Oh, a couple of bags.”


   Next afternoon, I stopped at a pet store. I had never bought catnip before. It comes in little cellophane one ounce bags. I felt embarrassed taking the bags to the cashier. I got three just in case two was not enough.

   “Did you see our special at the back of the store on the 24 pound bags of scented kitty litter?” the cashier asked. “Nineteen ninety-nine.”

   The editor called me as I was getting into my car.

   “I hear you’re interviewing a dog?” He turned a statement into a question.

   “I’m investigating a story,” I answered. “So you heard about the dog?”

   “I hear he talks?” the editor snorted a little laugh. “Sure he does.”

   “Well, it all sounds crazy. I’m just going to check it out and write it up as a curiosity. Maybe just a humorous wild good chase.”

   “He says he dated movie stars?”

   “Well, that’s the story. I don’t—“

   “I’m going with you,” he said. “I want to see this!”


When the lady opened the door, she was surprised that there were two of us. The appointment had been made for one, but I was able to smooth it over, so the editor and I were allowed to come in. We introduced ourselves and she told us her name was Gloria. We folded our coats over a kitchen chair and proceeded to the living room, where we encountered Lucky posed in his bed like the Sphinx and looking at us with no particular interest.

   Gloria spoke sweetly to her dog, “Lucky, this is Mike and that’s Bob. Mike is a reporter and Bob is his boss. They’ve come to talk to you about one of your past lives—the one when you were a gambler in the Philippines.”

   The editor laughed. “Oh? So he has several past lives, eh? That’s great! How does he keep them straight?”

   Lucky fixed his gaze on the editor and it appeared to me that he may have raised one eyebrow.

   Trying not to move my lips, I said softly, “Don’t laugh at him, Bob. He’s sensitive about that.”

   “Oh!” Mike exclaimed in a loud, sarcastic tone. “I wouldn’t want to insult the little scammer!”

   Now Lucky was really studying the editor. I think he was already annoyed. He had long, floppy ears, but they were a little bit tensed up near his head, although the rest of his ears hung down like they always did.

   “Did you bring some catnip?” Gloria asked.

   “Maybe you should apologize to him,” I suggested quietly.

   “What kind of mutt is he?” Bob asked Gloria

   “He’s a King Charles Spaniel Cavalier Blenheim,” Gloria replied.

   “Mm,” Bob grunted. “Big name for such a little bowwow.”

   I’ll get the catnip,” I said. “It’s in my coat pocket.”

   “Does he smoke it?” Bob joked. “Or snort it?”

   Gloria smiled politely. “He likes it stuffed into the toe of a sock.”

   She touched Lucky on the nose with the spiked sock. He instantly came to life. He rolled over onto his back, holding the sock with his front paws while he gently minced at the toe with his teeth. After about ten minutes of this, he lay limp and motionless on his back with his belly exposed and his hind legs spread apart. His eyes were wide open, but I saw no sign of life. The saliva-damp sock was lying limp half in and half out of his open mouth. I wasn’t sure he was breathing. I looked at my watch several times.

   We all remained silent while maybe ten more minutes passed. Then I finally mumbled, “Is he all right?”

   As if to answer the question, Lucky abruptly lurched to his feet and ran like a rocket around the furniture, around the room, and around the whole apartment, making odd chirping sounds to mark his progress.

   “When does he talk?” Bob asked. “What’s he waiting for? Lassie?”

   Since the whole apartment was carpeted, Lucky was able to get good traction and put on some impressive speed, not to mention remarkable agility dodging in and out of table legs and dining room chairs, among other furniture. He blazed like a bullet between the TV set and the wall. He flew like a jet around a pair of floor lamps in opposite corners of the living room without touching either one. He kept up this high velocity for about twenty minutes without letting up, tracing occasionally, as he crisscrossed the center of the living room floor again and again, the figure eight, or the figure for infinity, depending on how one looked at it.

   Judging by Gloria’s matter-of-fact manner, she had seen all this before. With a smirk on his face, Bob stared blankly into the center of the living room floor, as that was probably the most dependable way to glimpse Lucky as he shot past this way and that. I was jotting down notes as fast as I could.

   As suddenly as he had begun, Lucky stopped running and plopped down in the center of the living room floor. He began a plaintive howling as he wiggled around on his back. Actually, it sounded as if he was singing, or trying to sing. He sang full out, really putting his heart into it, for about ten minutes. There were tears in his eyes. Then he seemed to run out of energy and the howls grew softer and softer, until they turned into little whines, then whimpers, then, finally, silence.

   We watched him another fifteen minutes as he lay there silent and immobile. Finally, he began to snore.

   “Well,” Gloria said. “I don’t think he’s going to talk tonight.”

   “You don’t think so?” Bob was being ironic. “Gosh! What a surprise!”

   “What went wrong?” I asked. “Did Bob hurt his feelings?”

   Gloria did give Bob a significant look, but she said, “Let me see the catnip.”

   It was “Cheshire’s All-Natural” catnip.

   “I usually give him ‘Puss in Boots Brand,’ Gloria said. “And it has to be fresh.”


The next day at the office, Bob was in a lather to expose Lucky as a fraud.

   “If he talks even one word, which he won’t, I’ll bet it’s just Gloria throwing her voice like a ventriloquist.”

   I objected that Lucky didn’t get a fair shake because Bob had offended him, and that Lucky clams up when he’s offended. Maria backed me up on that. “And it was the wrong brand of catnip,” I added.

   “I want you to go back and try again,” Bob said. “I won’t go this time. But I have asked a Filipino acquaintance of mine, a very polite, humble guy, to go with you. He’ll make sure we get an accurate translation if the dog actually says anything.” Bob grinned.

   Later, I gathered from Bob’s further exposition on the matter that his wife had sided with Lucky when she heard what had happened. She had reminded Bob that he can be condescending and stultifying toward people with backgrounds different from his own, and that might go double for a dog who, in a previous life, might have had a background different from Bob’s. It turned into a big argument and Bob had slept not very well on the couch.

   I called Gloria and asked if I could try it again, this time bringing along a polite Filipino instead of Bob.

   “That would be all right,” Gloria said. “Lucky didn’t like Bob. Bob was too arrogant.”

   She also told me where I could buy Lucky’s favorite, fresh catnip and we agreed to start at seven o’ clock.


I called Bob’s Filipino friend and made arrangements to pick him up on the way. His name was Emile, and he wanted me to pick him up downtown at the police station.

   Emile was, maybe, sixty years old with a full head of hair that was mostly black with a little gray, and he had a very sincere and serious demeanor. He was a detective.

   “So Bob wants you to look for fraud, right?”

   Emile made a little shrug as an answer.

   “Well, you know that we’re going to interview a talking dog, don’t you” I said in an ironic tone to see what reaction he would make. He made none, so I asked, “What do you think of that?”

   “There are many mysterious wonders in God’s creation,” he replied solemnly without a hint of irony.

   I figured Lucky might like him.


“Good evening, Gloria,” I said as she let us in the door. “This is Emile. Emile, Gloria.”

   Emile made a slight bow, then they exchanged a few friendly words in their own language while Emile and I took off our coats.

   I gave Emile an inquisitive look.

   “We were talking about our families in the Philippines. Where they live.”

   We found Lucky in the living room, posed like the Sphinx in his bed, except he was looking at us with obvious interest and sniffing the air with his nose slightly elevated.

   Gloria introduced us. “Lucky, you remember Mike from last night. And this is Emile.” She gestured and said, “This is Lucky.”

   Lucky got up and walked over to me, sniffing more intently.

   “I told him you were bringing him a fresh treat,” Gloria explained.

   Emile and I sat down while she prepared the catnip sock, then held it out for Lucky, who didn’t wait this time to be touched on the nose with it, but rather stood on his hind legs and snatched it from her hand. Gloria sat down across from us while Lucky began to indulge in the catnip. He hopped all over the room with the potent sock swinging as he held it in his teeth and shook his head as if he were killing a mouse. Then, he pranced on his hind feet forward and backward, keeping his balance while he wiggled his hips in a kind of dance with his head held high and the moist sock hanging out of his mouth. It was hard not to smile, watching him, but I noticed that neither Gloria nor Emile were smiling, so I stifled mine and concentrated on taking notes.

   After a couple of minutes of that, he sat down in the middle of the floor like a dog is supposed to sit, dropped the slobbery sock in front of him and panted with his tongue hanging out. His head was swaying slightly as he looked from one to another of us. His eyes were glassy.

   Then he got up and shook his head gently back and forth like a human clearing his head. As he turned and walked unsteadily to his bed, it sounded like he said something.

   “What was that?” I asked.

   Emile looked at me and said, “He said ‘Good stuff!’” Gloria nodded in agreement.

   Lucky sat down in his bed, but not like a dog this time. He positioned himself upright, with his back propped against a pillow and his rump down with his tail curled under and his legs sticking out in front of him as if he were a human sitting in a chair. He turned his head to Gloria and I clearly heard him speak briefly in a foreign language.

   “He said to thank you for bringing this treat to him,” she translated to me.

   “Well. Tell him he’s welcome.”

   She spoke to him in Filipino. He looked at me, nodded, and spoke directly to me, apparently in that language.

   “He said he would be happy to answer questions for you,” Emile explained to me. “He said he knows that’s why you came. Go ahead and ask.”

   I cleared my throat and looked into Lucky’s glazed eyes. “I have heard that you remember a past life that you had. Can you tell me about that.”

   Lucky made a little laugh and spoke to me.

   Emile translated. “He says he remembers many lives that he had. Which one do you want to know about?”

   “Well. How about the one where you grew up in the Philippines?”

   Lucky began telling a long story that Emile, and sometimes Gloria translated for me. For the sake of brevity, clarity, and style, I’m going to streamline the translations back and forth, which would make this account too tedious to read, and simply assemble the information into a story that came out of my questions and Lucky’s answers, and relate that story more or less as Lucky told it.

   “Reincarnation is a fact,” Lucky said, “and I’m living proof of it. I remember  many, many past lives, but you asked about my life in the Philippines.

   “I was born into a poor family of farm workers who lived on a coconut plantation in Zamboanga Sibugay, on the island of Mindanao, in the Philippines. The other kids and I gambled for centavos. As I got older, I found my way into town and gambled for more than centavos. I soon got the nickname “Lubi,” for “coconuts.”

   “I had talent for gambling. Pusoy. That’s a card game. Cock fighting. Horse racing. Jai alai. Even the lottery. I won much money in the lottery. I won much money at every kind of gambling. True, sometimes I lost a little. But then I would win a big amount somehow.

   “I gave away much money to the poor in the name of Saint Cayetano, the patron saint of gambling. I prayed to Saint Cayetano and I wore a solid gold medallion for Saint Cayetano on a gold chain around my neck.

   “Oh, the money piled up! I was young and rich! I owned mansions and plantations all over the Philippines. Then all over the world! I was known to many important people. I dated movies stars. In Manila, but also in Hollywood.

   “But I was living much nightlife and I was still young and foolish. I drank too much. I spent money like water. I talked wild. I forgot my humility. I became over confident. More than overconfident, I became cocky.

   “So I was setting myself up for a big fall. And the big fall came.

   “I was playing poker in a private game in Las Vegas. All big players. We had played for thirty hours or so. I was drunk. And tired. In truth, we were all drunk and tired. That’s when you have to be careful. But that is also when you can win big. And I was too confident.

   “One of the players was a tycoon fom the Netherlands by the name of Jan Van Dijk. A very skillful player. And he had the ability to make me angry during the game. He was always making fun of me. Always making little insulting jokes about me. He would call me ‘Little Coconuts.’ Usually, I was able to ignore it. You know, you should not become angry when you are in a game like that. You lose your reasoning. And you will lose the game.

   “We were playing five card stud. Three cards up, two cards down. Then you draw cards. I had a three, a four, and a five showing. Face down, I had a seven and a nine. I needed only the six.

   “Van Dijk had one of the sixes showing. I knew that was a bad sign, but I had lost my reasoning power. My ego was running my game! Anyway, he had nothing else of interest but that six. There had been much bluffing in the game. No one had possessed any great hands. The game had refused to get hot for anyone. And I had a possible straight showing. Nobody else had anything.

   “So there was maybe a hundred thousand dollars in the pot. Not a lot of money. But Van Dijk says, ‘Little Coconuts has a possible straight, but he will never make it.” And he tossed another hundred thousand into the pot.

   “That was it. I lost my temper. It was pure hubris.

   “I said, “I won’t make it, eh? You cloggie! You Belgian cloggie! I’m going to shut you up.’ I knew that Netherlanders don’t like to be called ‘Belgian.’ And ‘cloggie” is an insult to them. I declared that I was adding a flat million dollars to the pot.

   “’Only a million?’ he sneered. ‘I’ll raise you ten million!’

   “’Only ten million?’ I sneered back at him. I’ll raise you a hundred million!’

   “Well, a hundred million was everything I had. And he matched my bet. The others had dropped out a long time ago. It was just me and Van Dijk.

   “He took no cards. That was the sign I was in trouble. I took one card, praying to Saint Cayetano for a six.

   “Well, to make a long, sad story short. I did not get the six. I got a jack. And when Van Dijk turned over his two face down cards, he had three sixes! I couldn’t believe it!

   “After that, I quickly went downhill. Saint Cayetano turned his back on me. I never had good luck ever again. Only bad luck. Soon I was without even pennies. I had to work. I had lots of little jobs. I washed dishes. I worked in the fields. That was for the rest of my life. I never had any money again. I died a poor old man in the slums of Manila.”


Lucky had been getting quieter and sounding sadder as his story wound down. I had tried to ask him some questions about specifics as we had gone along. Emile had tried to interject these questions, but Lucky said he would answer questions at the end. Like what was his name? What were the names of the movie stars that he had dated? What property had he owned, exactly?

   But now he was sobbing softly. Tears were running out of his eyes as he lay on his belly with his chin resting on the carpet on the living room floor. I held back from pressing with more questions at the moment, intending to wait until he was more composed.

   Emile and Gloria were sniffling too. Emile wiped his eyes with a handkerchief and blew his nose.

   Lucky was quiet for a long time. We waited. Eventually, he began to snore.

   “That’s enough for tonight,” Gloria said quietly.

   “Okay,” I said. “Can we come back tomorrow night and ask him a few questions?”

   “Of course.”

   As we were leaving, Emile had a little chat with Gloria in their language at the front door. It sounded friendly and sympathetic. He held her hand in his two hands and patted it tenderly a few times as he spoke with what sounded like sincere emotion. He seemed to be talking about Lucky.


But that was the last time we saw Lucky. We never got to ask those questions. When she answered my telephone call, Gloria said Lucky had been very depressed after our session. She had decided it was not good for him to remember the past.

   “I’ll bet Gloria is a ventriloquist,” Bob growled. “There’s got to be some bunko in this thing, somehow.”

   “What did Emile say about it?” I asked.

   Bob scoffed. “He was no help.”

   “He believed Lucky, didn’t he?”

   Bob made no answer, then, but a few minutes later, he asked, “Hubris? Did he really use that word?”





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