I judge my life - Part 5 - Best friends

Dogs. I’ve always had dogs. First, there was Mike who was old when I was born and wouldn’t allow anyone but family near me. I use to pee on Mike as he lay on the ground, his great tail thumping the earth. Mike went into the woods one day when he was seventeen and never came back. I was told that it was the way of dogs to die alone, and I believed it at the time. Now, I don’t know. I’ve had few dogs who got to choose.

The mailman missed Mike terribly, having run over him several times through the years. Dogs regard mailmen as persistent intruders who would steal everything and kill everyone if not chased away daily, and it’s hard to convince them otherwise since, by all appearances, they are 100% successful in protecting their homes and families. Everyday, the mailman comes, the dog barks, and the mailman leaves. It illustrates David Hume’s conviction that, just because one event follows another, we can’t assume that the one caused the other; but how many dogs have read David Hume?

I don’t know what dog came after Mike, there being so many, and them dying so young. Cars killed them for the most part, either outright or later. Some might have been saved, but country people didn’t take their dogs to the vet; they just got new dogs. Peggy and I treat Bonnie and Baxter like children, but when I was a child, dogs were more like to contract laborers. In return for barking at intruders, we fed them, wormed them, pulled their ticks, and dipped them in creosote when they got the mange. That was the deal, and dogs were too loyal to form unions.

Our dogs invariably came from places on the side of the road where people dumped their garbage. In a typical scenario, Dad would be scavenging in one of these dumps when he would find a litter of puppies. When he got home, he would tell Mama about them, and being softhearted, she would tell him to go back and get them, which was surely what he wanted to do anyway, or else why would he have said anything? They were usually too young to eat solid food, so she would feed them with a doll’s bottle. When they got bigger, she would give away all but one or two.

I got to name our dogs, and not being a terribly original kid, I always used the same three names—Wolf, Tippy, and Sassy. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was way more than the cats got; they were all called Tiger. I wrote the following true stories in 1960 when I was ten. I copy them as written.


“Sassy was about the best dog I ever had. She was very playful. She wasn’t famous are anything like that. But she just gave you a warm feeling.

“We found her and 4 other puppies in a ditch on the roadside. She had a pretty color of white. Dad did that is when he was coming home from work during a rain one morning when it was to wet to work. He came home and told us about them, and mama told him to bring them home. Gay and I went with him. I don’t know the date. We fed them out of a doll bottle.

“Sassy only lived to be a little over a year old. I remember we used to get out and play with her and the other dogs. We gave all of the puppies away expect two.

“When Sassy died I was raking the grass, and dad was cutting it. And a car turned around in our driveway and Sassy started to chase it, and as soon as it got in the road Sassy got under one of the wheels. She turned and ran for the house and fell in the front yard. I ran and got mama and dad they said she was breeding inside. In about ten minutes later she died. She is berried in the back yard of our house. And we berried her on the same day. Gay and I prayed and singed for her.

“She left five puppies just like before. When she died I know she was trying to tell me something. I think she was trying to tell me she loved me and to take care of her puppies. She died in the evening of June the 19, 1959. I wrote this on the evening of January 13, 1960. I call the day that she died Dogs Day.”


“I don’t remember much about Wolf, but I do remember he killed chickens. Well anyway, he was one of Sassys puppies. When Sassy died he was a orpan. That was the second time we had five orpan puppies.

“After Sassy died we to care of him and the other puppies. They became pretty big to. Even bigger than Aunt Annies puppies “Pal,”

“When got grown he started killing chickens. We whipped him but he wouldn’t stop.

“We used to play with him a and our other dogs in the yard. He fought the other dogs off so he could have all the food. He was very rough.

““Oh Yes,” I almost forgot we was talking about him killing chickens. So one Sunday we came home a found about 5 chickens dead.

“Ma Ma wanted Dad to shoot him with my new gun. But we decided to take him off. That is all I remember about Wolf.”

The End

My great-great uncle, King James Newby lived in Arkansas with his wife, Molly, and a pack of coonhounds. Molly complained bitterly about the dogs barking, digging, chasing chickens, and pulling laundry off the line. After years of being ignored, she gave King an ultimatum: “King, either the dogs go, or I do.” His answer was: “Me and the dogs are sure gonna miss you, Molly,” whereupon Molly kept her word and moved to Mississippi. When my father visited Uncle King years later, he found the old man living alone on a diet that consisted mostly of eggs, the shells of which he threw into a barrel beside his woodstove. After a few days, my father got up the nerve to ask, “Uncle King, do you ever think about taking another wife?” “Humph,” King snorted, “I’d rather sleep with a wet dog than with any woman that ever lived.” Thus is illustrated the loyalty of the men in my family.


Gaston Studio said...

My, my those were great stories written by a little boy about his dogs. They must have really been special to you for you to have written about them Snow and I loved seeing their story through your eyes as a child.

I'm like you in that my dog is treated like a child and I'd do anything for her. But as a child, I had pretty much the same experience with animals as you did with very few exceptions.

Brought back lots of memories; thanks.

C Woods said...

In my opinion, anyone who loves dogs or cats (or any animal) is worthy of the best of everything. You might not get it, but you deserve it.

Hope you are gelling better soon.

All Consuming said...

I love this post, and I think I would whether or not I had a dog to be honest. The essays brought a tear to my eye and a smile as well. The photos really add to the pieces you write too.

“how many dogs have read David Hume?” – Lardy tells me she prefers detective novels.

Bella said...

hey Snowbrush, enjoyed the post. It just goes to show ya, a woman cannot come between a man and his dog!

Travis Erwin said...

I've been fortunate enough to have a few great dogs in my day so I can relate to these stories on every level.

Snowbrush said...

Yes, Jane, dogs were special to me, probably more so because I had no children to play with.

Hey, C Woods, I haven't seen you in a while. So glad you came by. Thank you for your kind words.

Thank you, All Con. Maybe someday I too will be represented by a real picture of myself rather than a shrub--but I doubt it (ha).

Bella "a woman cannot come between a man and his dog?"

Or a man between a dog and his woman. Peggy calls our schnauzer (who sleeps with her) Mr. Man. Peggy used to call ME Mr. Man. Oh, well, women come, and women go, but dogs remain--at least until they die and you have to get a new one.

nollyposh said...

Hey Snowbrush Thanks for dropping by my blog X:-) ...Just love this post about the dogs of your life, it has brought back so many memories of my own, love the photo's ...and right down to your original handwriting, just a fabulous post... Weren't you a little cutie X:-)

Chrisy said...

I'm so impressed with your writing even as a ten year old...fifty years ago next month on Dogs Day...

Mim said...

This is a great post and I can relate to the sentiment exactly. Wonderful...

Suldog said...

Good tales (or tails, in this case, maybe.) I've always been more of a cat person - shame on me, I suppose - but I love a good dog.

VioletMind said...

It awes me to witness the connections people have with their dogs, or just dogs in general. Im generally more of a cat person although I've never had either as a pet. I've wanted a cat for a whiile. Dogs are interesting. Sometimes they seem like a weird version of humans...

(I guess, in a sense, they are)

Maya said...

Thanks for sharing this. It rang a nostalgia bell for me.

The lady in Red said...

Very nice blog! Congratulations and thanks for sharing the photos,
Best wishes,

southeastcountrywife said...

haha, cute stories. i've heard jokes about the "me or the dog" thing but never heard a story grounded in truth!!! oh my...

rhymeswithplague said...

Two great stories, complete with original manuscripts. I loved this post.

I had three dogs while growing up and all three -- Tippy (border collie), Sandy (shepherd-collie mix), and Frisky (shepherd-collie mix) -- were killed chasing cars. Our three yellow cats were simply called "Kitty".

Your post resonated with me and brought back memories.

Lille Diane said...

This is a brilliant piece of work, and to see all your pictures, plus the actual masterpieces you wrote at age 10... wow. You were born to write, Snow. Mr. Man was born to keep you humble. lol

I have an award for you I posted for people I think are pretty amazing. It's deservedly yours. I know you don't write to "get"...it's more to give but I am a fan, and always will be. You are not expected to do anything with it except know I think you are pretty darn special.

Thanks for writing stories that transport us.

Snowbrush said...

Nollyposh "just a fabulous post... Weren't you a little cutie X:-)"

Thank you, Nollyposh, even if you are about the fourth woman (I've lost count by now) to refer to me as having BEEN cute. Jeez!

Chrisy "..fifty years ago next month on Dogs Day..."

Hard to believe that fifty years have passed. By the time you realize how brief life is, it's almost gone.

Mim "This is a great post and I can relate to the sentiment exactly."

Thank you so much, Mim.

Suldog " I've always been more of a cat person - shame on me, I suppose."

They both have their merits. Cats are a lot more independent, so I don't feel so burdened by keeping them exercised and entertained. After having had two dogs for nine and eleven year, respectively, I'm ready for having nothing but a cat for a while.

Violet Mind "m generally more of a cat person although I've never had either as a pet."

Well, that's too bad. Of course, the good side is that you've avoided a 15 year commitment that can get quite troublesome and expensive.

Maya "It rang a nostalgia bell for me."

That's cause you're SO old (like me) that most of your life is in the past. Just kidding, but there's also some truth there.

Rosana "...thanks for sharing the photos."

And thank you for dropping by, Rosana.

SE Country Wife "i've heard jokes about the "me or the dog" thing but never heard a story grounded in truth!!!"

You would think they could have compromised. He could have kept the dogs, but put up a fence a little ways from the house. I hear that Molly was really bitter about things, as one might imagine.

Hey, Plague, you came from my school of dog naming. After you've chosen three or four good names, why change? Actually, I now search baby-naming books, and, of course, Peggy and I have to agree, and that's not always easy.

Lille Diane "This is a brilliant piece of work..."

Why, thank you, my dear. Watch out over your way lest you fall out of that tree house. Whoa! Wouldn't want to do that.

And, finally, Julie. I approved your post, but it's not here--damn. As for your question about the Oregon Country Fair, I've been a couple of times, and that was enough for me, thank you. However, a lot of people love it so much that they go every day, and try to get a permit to stay overnight which is when the party really begins, or so I'm told. It used to be wide open drug-wise and nudity-wise, but it's gotten pretty tame.

It's held in the woods about 12 miles west of town and has been going on for maybe 30 years (I think it started as a Society of Creative Anachronism Faire). It's often hot and always dusty (there being no pavement), but there are a lot of crafspeople and artisans, and the crowds are large. I can't tell you anything about how much you would have to pay or how well you would be apt to do on average.

I JUST spoke to someone who goes, and she said you will almost certainly have to wait one or more years to get a space. She's going to check with someone who has a space, and see if he would share. The OCF website is: http://www.oregoncountryfair.org/

As for three Buddhist churches in Portland, hell, dear, there are at least that many here. I attended one of them last Sunday. It has no monk in residence, but at least two of the others do.

serene chaos said...

It never fails to amaze me how strong the bond between people and pets can be. I believe you can tell a lot about a person from the way they treat their pets. While reading your post I thought back to all the pets I've loved over time. Every one of them will always have a special place in my heart. Beautiful post!

nollyposh said...

Hee! hEE! X;-)

Mim said...

Hi- have been thinking about you and pain. I was talking to someone yesterday who has had chronic and also acute pain who recommended a few things (for another friend!). Electical stimulation, lidocain patches and trigger point accupuncture. This friend knows about pain! She had a knee replacement last year and it was many years overdue so she had the pain from the knee, and pain from being out of alighnment for years, and surgery pain! She is also an occupational therapist who treats patients with pain.
Anyway, just thought I would pass it on, take care!

Snowbrush said...

Serene "I believe you can tell a lot about a person from the way they treat their pets."

Indeed, both in terms of compassion and maturity. Peggy and I treat the dogs we have now better in some ways than dogs we had 30 years ago. We didn't care less then, but we were less mature and therefore less aware.

Hi, NollyPoshyWallyGirl!

Mim, I appreciate the suggestions. I tried sleeping in bed last night, but I only lasted an hour. Even in a chair, I have to get up and replace the ice pack on my shoulder every 90 minutes or so. If things don't get better over the next couple of months, I'll be looking for a pain specialist.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Just now getting around to reading this post, and it has so touched my heart.
I was raised around dogs and cats, though mostly they were my grandma's I had a cat growing up, but mum would never allow a dog, so I always asked the neighbors if I could take their dogs out for walks, or to the park...
I loved animals with a passion, for an only child, with no siblings, they were all the companionship I had.
I remember crying for weeks, when my grandma's dog was euthanised, at the ripe old age of 22 and carrying a 5lb mammary tumor.
To this day, I am a true animal lover, it's in my soul.
By the sounds of this lovely story, you were too, even as you say, back then, country people didn't think about taking their animals to vets...just giving them the basics to survive, and a pat on the head for gratitude every once in awhile.
I loved this recollection of your childhood, and the special pets you loved...
Thanks for sharing !

CreekHiker said...

I love your dog stories Snow! Dogs have been a special blessing in my life.

Your tales remind me of growing up in Mississippi. We never bought a dog...somebody was always looking for a home for one.

julie mitchell said...

Snow, thanks for sharing info regarding the Oregon Country Fair...It sounds like fun 20years ago...I'm not much for heat, dust and dancing nude in the moonlight anymore...but who knows. It is curious how new artist/craftsmen have to sort of petition for space to share. I'll be interested to hear what your friend has to say....

Snowbrush said...

Thank you, Brit, for your kind words and your reminiscences. You have an unusually pretty blog.

CreekHiker, I am so happy to have a former Mississippi gal, almost a neighbor, read my blog.

Julie, I haven't heard back from Shirley, so I suppose it was as she and I imagined, that her friend's relative didn't want to share. When I said heat, remember that I meant western Oregon heat--ten days a year above 90.

Renee said...

I have just melted over the little boy (you) stories. Beautiful and I love the lined paper.