Jack had amazing abilities

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 19, 2013

“One bark for no, two barks for yes.”

If you recognize that statement, you know it is from the 1982-83 television drama, “Tales of The Gold Monkey.” It refers to the dog Jack, a mixed-breed terrier. Jack belonged to Jake Cutter, an American ex-Flying Tiger pilot who lived on Bora Gora, a South Pacific island, in the late 1930s before the outbreak of World War II.

During the Christmas holidays when family members enjoyed some time with me watching movies, I pulled out videos of “Tales of The Gold Monkey” from my husband’s collection of movies and favorite TV shows. I cannot recall watching “Tales of The Gold Monkey” during its run on the ABC network from Sept. 22, 1982, through July 6, 1983. The first time we watched the video Jack caught my attention. I definitely preferred it to my husband’s choice, the Charlie Chan series.

Jack was one of my favorite characters (or should I say creatures) on the show. He was an aging scruffy-looking little dog. In most scenes, he wore an eye patch because Jake had lost his valuable opal eye with a sapphire center in a poker game while gambling on the Island of Tagataya. Jake was always trying to track the jewel, but it kept changing hands. Jack made it evident that he was angry with Jake about the loss. In various episodes, Jack ignored him causing Jake to promise to get it back for him.

Jack’s real name was Leo. In reality, he had two eyes. He was around 14 years old and a seasoned actor when he began work on the show. He lived to the age of 21. His credits included both movies and television. His trainer said that every time he put that eye patch on him, Jack’s ear stood up. He thought that Jack was trying to figure out what was happening on that side of his head.

It was amusing how Jack answered his human friends’ questions with one bark for no and two barks for yes. Corky, Jake’s airplane mechanic and best friend, always kept that straight even though he was often forgetful because of an alcohol problem. Sometimes, though, Jake got the bark replies confused.

Jack accompanied Corky and Jake on flights in Jake’s Grumman Goose amphibian called “The Goose.” On each take-off and landing, or during threatening weather, he rushed to his special niche in the hold where he curled up on a cushion. It looked like those uncomfortable circumstances actually agitated him.

Jake often engaged in bar fights where he sometimes took a beating and wound up with a bill for the damage the fights caused the barroom. At those times, Jack ran for cover. Jake accused him of being a coward, but when it looked as if Jake was in serious danger, Jack jumped into action to defend his master.

In Jack’s case, it was evident that old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” just didn’t apply.