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Rita Loberger is sold on Pekinese

They were bred 2,000 ago by Chinese emperors


by: BARBARA SHERMAN - THE STARS WERE ALIGNED THE DAY THEY MET - Rita Loberger fell in love with Dachi the moment she saw him in a pet shop in 2000.Rita and Frank Loberger's home of 16 years in Eldorado Villas is ruled by Dachi, a purebred Pekinese.

"He's a Chinese dog, but we didn't know any Chinese," Rita said. "We got him when he was 4 months old - we couldn't call him 'Buddy' or 'Pal.' We had lived in Okinawa when my husband was stationed there during the Vietnam War in the military, so I thought we could pull out a Japanese name, and I looked through a dictionary.

"I found 'Tomodachi,' which means great friend and thought that was perfect."

Like many people, the Lobergers didn't actually set out to get a dog one day in 2000 when they went into the Animal House pet store that used to be by Rite Aid in the Tigard Towne Square shopping center.

"We noticed Dachi, and he was born on our anniversary, and it was close to my birthday… so we brought this guy home," she said.

When Dachi was 6 moths old, he developed epilepsy and has been on medication ever since to control it.

Dachi is a bit - ahem - large for a Pekinese; Rita said he should weigh 14 to 15 pounds, but instead he weighs 25. "He's just a big boy," she said.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Pekinese is their history, because they were bred in China 2,000 years ago, and recent DNA analysis proves that the breed is one of the least genetically diverged from the wolf, the ancestor of modern dogs.

In ancient China, only members of the Chinese Imperial Palace could own Pekinese until a twist of fate in the 1860s. During the Second Opium War, British and French troops attacked the Old Summer Palace in Beijing (originally Peking), and the emperor fled with his court, leaving behind his elderly aunt. She committed suicide when the soldiers entered and was found with her five Pekinese dogs mourning her death.

The Allies removed the dogs before the palace was burned to the ground; Lord John Hay gave a pair to his sister; Sir George Fitzroy gave a pair to his cousins; and Lt. Dunne present the fifth to Queen Victoria, who named it Looty.

And so with that auspicious start, Pekinese started taking over the world.

"I had a Pekinese when I met Frank, and they are known to be high-strung, but Dachi is mellow, although he needs a tranquilizer on the Fourth of July and New Year's," Rita said. "Other than that, he's pretty much wash-and-wear. He is more or less the community mascot, and there is a picture of him in the Clubhouse. I introduce him to new neighbors.

"Dachi knows where the dogs live here, and he has a girlfriend up the street. He would make friends with cats if he could. He's sort of a free spirit. When he was young, he'd run off, so I always carried photos of him."