When he was young, Aslan had a pronounced neck ruff and just the right coloring to look like an adolescent male lion. He was named after the supernatural lion character from the C.S. Lewis book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The name was apparently derived from a Turkish word meaning lion.
Aslan was only a few months old when Bob found him early in 1988. He was walking around a busy Austin intersection, waiting for the lights to change before each crossing. When Bob called he came right over. He seemed happy to climb into the car out of the cold rain.
It turned out that he really is smart enough to figure out traffic lights. It was years before we realized that he knew how to turn on the television… because he always turned it off when he heard us coming. Bob eventually caught him early one morning just as he was turning it off. He seemed to prefer shows about animals. "The Pet Department" on FX was his favorite.
Aslan was easily the most intelligent dog we have ever met. There is some "parental" pride in that, but not too much. He seemed to understand quite a bit of complex English. He foiled at least two break-ins with efficiency and panache. (Oolong helped with the second one.)
Aslan even demonstrated proficiency at taking down humans, without brute force, using balance and leverage. Bob's theory is that he learned this by watching martial arts movies late at night after we'd gone to bed. (Which may explain why he learned to operate the television.)
Aslan loved people and other animals. He did not permit anyone or anything into the house or yard uninvited, but as long as we cleared them he was always delighted to make new friends. Even the wild rabbits in our back yard trusted him enough to approach nose-to-nose. There has never been a dog with a bigger heart.
Aslan passed away on January 20, 2000 in the arms of his loved ones. His example continues to inspire us. We will always love and remember him.