By JACOB LOPEZ
It was no accident that the dog who stole the show at last week’s San Benito High School Homecoming parade, and piqued the curiosity of many onlookers wondering if he had an owner showed up on the main stretch of Sam Houston Boulevard that day.
‘Kong,’ as he is affectionately referred to by those who know the canine, was named after the brand of dog collar he was wearing. He started following the Leadership Officer Training Corps (LOTC) students of Miller Jordan Middle School in San Benito as they ran in formation and sang their cadence during the Homecoming parade.
No one seems to know for sure if Kong has an owner as he just showed up and started following the students even before the week of the parade.
Corporal Steve Longoria, LOTC instructor, said, “I haven’t seen him” since the parade.
“I’ve been asking the students … they did see him over the weekend,” he added.
The four-legged friend wasn’t a stranger to the students, he’d made appearances during football practice, running onto the field, and some of the kids were already familiar with Kong. He’s become something of an unofficial mascot for the students.
Kong, as many parade-goers learned last week, is quite the friendly dog. He sat with people in the crowd waiting to be petted, and followed the middle school LOTC students down Sam Houston, running alongside their formation.
Kong’s not shy. According to Longoria, he has been known to run into the school on occasion, “security has kicked him out — maybe like two or three times,” he said.
The furry little guy would join the kids for lunch in the school’s courtyard, and he’d casually walk around enjoying the attention.
Longoria said that Kong does not seem to have an owner, but some of the kids claim he is their dog. He believes that it’s just students’ attempts to protect Kong from getting picked up by the city’s animal control officers.
When the parade was over, Longoria’s wife showed him the picture that the San Benito News posted on Facebook about the dog who had earned his place in the parade. That’s when it hit him that this was the same dog he and his students had encountered earlier in the week.
“I believe he heard the cadence,” said Longoria, “He remembered it, and he ran towards it. He felt like he belonged there with us.”
The student pictured in the News’ parade photo is Tristan Lambert, who said, “We were kind of excited, because we hadn’t seen him in a while,” explained Tristan, but upon Kong’s return, “he kind of motivated us. We sounded a little bit louder … ran a little bit faster.”
Still, the student said that most of the students hadn’t heard from Kong in the days since the parade. “He disappeared like a ghost,” Tristan said.