Bronze of beloved pooch unveiled in owners' backyard ceremony

Portuguese water dog's statue now sits in garden where he used to romp

For eight years Tigo, a large black curly-coated Portuguese water dog, romped the 15-acre estate of Marlene and Bill Rebello, their fun-loving, faithful boy.

Tigo died in February 2011, but his likeness lives on in the garden in a bronze statue by sculptor Lena Toritch. The statue was unveiled Sunday before 40 or so of the Rebellos' good friends, who exclaimed over the likeness and reached out to caress the bronze curls. Tigo is short for Rei Antigo do Mar, which is Portuguese for Ancient King of the Sea.

The Rebellos first thought of commissioning the statue when Tigo was alive and well. A few years ago the three of them were at the Barkus Parade of dogs in the French Quarter in New Orleans when they realized anew how special Tigo was.

"He drew people to us," Marlene recalled. "We were watching the parade and more people were taking his picture than the dogs in the parade."

Residents of Sunol, the Rebellos had always admired the statue of Bosco, a black Lab-Rottweiler mix character around town who was even elected mayor and is now immortalized in a statue by Toritch. His bronze tribute, complete with his signature kerchief and lolling tongue, was unveiled in 2008 next to the post office. Folks give him a rub for good luck.

"Tigo was so special that we thought a statue would be a really neat thing," Marlene said. "We contacted her and got some ideas and the cost, then said go ahead and start it. Shortly after that, he was diagnosed with cancer."

Tigo was a fixture in Pleasanton for many years as Bill, while coping with health problems, took daily hour-long walks downtown, ending at Tully's coffee house to rest before starting home.

"I would see this young guy sitting there and one day he got up and started walking towards me," Bill said, explaining that the man had some physical problems. "He came over to me and said 'dog,' and he said 'nice,' then proceeded to say 'stroke.' He and I spent about two hours talking, just trying to know each other."

Bill said he'd been feeling sorry for himself due to his own recent health problems -- until he met Dave Fassio.

"I came home and told Marlene, 'I just met this guy today, who was only 45 years old when he had a stroke.' I said he had such a positive attitude about life and he changed my whole outlook on life," Bill recalled.

Marlene, who had just retired as a speech pathologist, met Dave at a 50th birthday party for him, six months later. She told the family that she would love to volunteer to work with him one hour a week to improve his speech and now, after seven years, he is much improved, Bill said.

"Tigo was instrumental in that relationship that we have with Dave now," Bill explained, as the dog was in so many of their friendships.

A few years ago, Tigo won Pleasanton's Pooch Parade in the owner-dog lookalike contest when Bill donned a black Afro wig and the two marched up and down Main Street in identical scarves.

Marlene and Bill worked closely with Toritch, modifying Tigo's likeness as it took shape.

"It took a little over a year," Marlene said. "We wanted it absolutely to his likeness. We zeroed in on specific areas, the shape of his head, his tail."

The statue is 10% larger than Tigo was, Bill noted.

Toritch, who trained at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts in Russia and lives in Salt Lake City, said the statue of Tigo is one of her favorites.

"The most important and challenging part was depicting Tigo's intelligent eyes. But I did it," Toritch wrote on her blog.

Now "Tigo" sits at quiet attention in the Rebello's garden, a short walk from the house, upon a brick base.

"We walked down this morning and sat on the bench and had coffee," Bill said Monday morning. "He was so extraordinary; we contemplated what to do and made the decision that he would watch over us all."


Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Bradford
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 9, 2012 at 8:12 am

This article is beyond parody.

Like this comment
Posted by Dylan Murphy
a resident of Downtown
on May 9, 2012 at 8:33 am

Now that's what I call money well spent.

Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

Wow, very cool. Leroy has talked a lot about Tigo, but I never got to see him.

Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Del Prado
on May 9, 2012 at 10:30 am

What a great story... I dare the angry self serving knuckleheads who spew hate on these pages to say something negative about this... ! lol

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2012 at 11:23 am

I'll bet the money spent on this statue could feed quite a few hungry children.

1 person likes this
Posted by steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hmmmmm ... we can do without your troll spewing liberal guilt ribbon comments. The great thing about being an American is that you can spent your money however you want to, although the good king socialist Obama desires otherwise. A few hungry children? Why don't you become a do gooder missionary in the Fillapines or something,.

Like this comment
Posted by Harriet B. Hind
a resident of Castlewood
on May 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm

WTF? Some people just have to much money and time on their hands. I agree with the first comment-it is far beyond a parody. I am still shaking my head.

Like this comment
Posted by Been there
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm

When our daughter pet hamster Suzette died, we had a full blown burial ceremony, ad we had here remains put into a beautiful mausoleum. It was followed by a party for100 of our closest friends, where we talked and remembered Suzette and here happy days spinning the wheel in her cage.

It was lovely!

Like this comment
Posted by Stacee
a resident of Downtown
on May 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm

When my goldfish died-we flushed him down the toilet. I was only 8 at the time-so traumatizing I never had another pet again until I got my pet rock.

Like this comment
Posted by news worthy
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm

PW really thought this was news worthy.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on May 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I got a cute little duck for Easter one year. He outgrew the box, so we kept him in the garage and would let him out (in the summer, not the winter because it's cooooold in Chicago in the winter). One day a dog jumped the fence and picked up Ducky and ran off with him. We found Ducky's head later that day but not the body. We buried the head and a few feathers and put a cross over his grave.

Well, to make a long story short, we called our city councilman to complain about our neighbor's dog being off the leash. As it turns out, the dog owner was a Teamster boss who had bought off the entire city council. I learned a lesson then and there about unions and Chicago politics.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on May 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Here's the original story:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by new
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm

a nice story, but is this news?

Like this comment
Posted by Pet Lover in Pleasanton
a resident of Golden Eagle
on May 12, 2012 at 6:56 am

I think it was a lovely story and very heartwarming. I don't understand why anyone would make a negative comment on a story about families loving their pet/family member. It is/was the beauty of America that we can spend our hard earned money as we see fit. I would not be a bit surprised if these folks were heavy contributors to many charities, too. Pet lovers tend to be generous and kind. I feel sad for those of you that do not understand this story.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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