Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Boy and His Dog

“I love my dog. I love all my dogs. Every dog I ever had, I still love ‘em. And in my life, believe me, I have had me a bunch of damn dogs. Because you keep getting’ a new one, don’t ya? It’s true. As life goes on, you keep getting’ one new dog after another. That’s the whole secret of life. Life is a series of dogs.”
                                                                           ~ George Carlin


Maybe I should have titled this, "A Dog and Her Boy." For most of my life there has been a dog in my life. Right now there are four. There is Martha, my daughter’s dog whom we adopted from the pound when my daughter was six years old. Martha is a cute wire-hair terrier mix whom we soon discovered was hearing impaired. Daisy is a yellow lab mix who showed up at our doorstep 11 years ago. We could never find her owner, so she stayed. Then there is Mike, a cute little black and tan “Heinz 57” variety, whom my wife rescued about five years ago, and Felix, a little Chihuahua/rat terrier mix who was wandering the streets before hopping into my wife’s car one day. We could never find her owner either, so… we now have a pack.

A Litany of Dogs
Growing up, we always had a family dog. As a toddler, I pleaded with my parents to let me keep a little black and white hound puppy that had been dropped off at the city dump. Back in those days, everyone in our small town had to carry their own garbage to the dump. One Saturday, while accompanying my Dad on his weekly garbage run, we found the pup sitting quietly near a refuse heap. My Dad dubbed her, “Pooch.” My mother admitted that she was the cutest little pup she had ever seen. Then there was Brownie. After that was Smokey, a quiet noble shepherd mix who died too young of distemper. Later there was Trixie, an almost pure bred collie who was companion, playmate, and protector for me and my siblings for a good part of my childhood. She is the one you see pictured here with me as a lad. (More about Trixie in a moment) When I was in high school, there was Prince, son of Trixie. Then there was Chanet, part french bulldog, part boxer (she also died too young). Later came Missy, a collie mix rescued by my little brother. Missy went jogging with him every day until he joined the Marines then she welcomed him home on every furlough. There was even dog folklore in our house. My older brother and my parents told stories of Snooks, who was before my time but who accompanied my brother from infancy to school age.

When my wife and I met 27 years ago, Pete and Dolly were her canine companions. Pete was a shepherd mix who had been my wife's pet for many years, through thick and thin. She had to be put down the day before our daughter was born. Dolly was a chow/wolf mix who hated strangers, but was a jolly dancer at home with us. She reminded me of an Ewok from Star Wars.

Some Stand Out

All of our dogs have brought rich rewards into our lives, and some stand out more than others (you may have read my tribute to the remarkable Mr. Higgins, who departed this life about ten years ago). When I was a child, Trixie was the one who stood out above all the others. We lived out in the country at that time. Trixie had the run of the yard, the woods, and the neighbor’s pasture. She was very bright and she knew how to play and interact with us kids. She was as much a family member as a dog can get. We played in the yard and ran with her through the woods on many a futile rabbit or squirrel chase. That dog accompanied us on all of our usual haunts: hiking in the woods, walking down to the road to the fish pond near the old train depot, or going up the road to the country store. Once or twice, she followed us to school, which was against the rule, as the nursery rhyme says.

One summer morning, my younger brother and sister and I decided to go down through the woods to the creek bank to play, as we often did. Trixie trotted along with us as usual. She took the lead as we jaunted merrily along the path through the woods. Suddenly Trixie stopped right in the path. We couldn’t understand what had come over her, but we were anxious to get to the creek. When we tried to pass her, she turned sideways in the path and gave a low growl. She would not let us pass. This was bizarre behavior, we thought, until we looked ahead. Right there stretched along the path in the woods lay a huge snake - a water moccasin! YIKES! We all turned on our heels and fled back up the hill, out of the woods, and safely to our back door step. Of course there were rounds of cheers and hugs for Trixie, our faithful guardian. And of course, we had to go and tell our parents all about our harrowing adventure.

Trixie was not my dog, per se. She was the family dog, and she gave her attention to all of us. I was always proud of Trixie. I found joy and comfort by having her around whenever I went outside. What is remarkable to me, as I look back on these old photos, is that I have always been camera shy - I do not like having my picture taken. I well remember, however, the day these shots were taken. I had a box camera that my uncle had given me for Christmas one year. I remember asking my brother to take a picture of me with Trixie. Looking back, I find it amazing that I would have requested to have my own picture taken. It must say something about the importance I placed upon the remarkable dog who was part of my childhood. Here's to all the dogs who have enriched the lives of people everywhere! If you have a dog story, feel free to leave a comment.


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2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this shaggy dog story. I remember Trixie, and she was a great dog. Dogs are so great that even reading about a dog you never knew is a pleasure.

    As you mentioned, Snooks was my first dog. He "disappeared" when you were very young. After he disappeared, Pop said he had been sighted running with a pack of dogs on the edge of town. I now realize that this was a tale fabricated to try to cheer me up. I think our parents knew what had really happened, but I never did.

    Your big brother,
    Richard

    ReplyDelete
  2. Charlie, thanks for the memories of Trixie and our other dogs. I remember that incident with Trixie and the snake in the woods!

    Little sis,
    Claire

    ReplyDelete

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