Sunday, February 07, 2010

my dog died

many years ago.

In fact it was 1983, but I still think about him once in a while. He was the greatest pet a young boy could ever hope to have, and he was with me most of my developing years growing up.

He was a hodgepodge mixture of about twelve breeds including Poodle, Pekinese, Chihuahua and even German Shepard; a real mutt, but smart as a whip. He had a curly tail like a poodle, the colouring of a German Shepard and weighed in at 15 pounds. We named him Naughty. And yes, sometimes he could be. But most of the time he was just purebred awesome.

One of Naughty’s favourite tactics was to sit on our front porch and watch the birds in the yard, coexisting with him in peace until the second he realized we were observing him. At that moment of realization he would leap up, bound off the porch, bark furiously and with great gusto, and chase the birds away. Then, he would come strutting back to us as if to say - see masters, I’m on the job! Makes me laugh just thinking about it now.

And talk about a dog loving to play ball. He could go, literally, for hours at it and never tire out. I think it was the highlight of his little life. This dog, no exaggeration, could catch a ball in his mouth while at a full run, on uneven grass, with the ball bouncing unpredictably. I used to marvel at his acumen and precision in this feat of agility. I’ve not seen anything like it except those frisbee catching dogs you see at competitions. Uncanny, is another word I could use to describe his ball catching ability.

Anyhow, we had a park beside our house and a friend and I used to take him there for exercise. We would throw the ball back and forth, about 100 feet away from each other, and Naughty would tear as fast as he could pump his tiny little legs to retrieve it before one of us did. Sometimes he would be traveling so fast across the uneven ground he would lose it, wipe out and tumble for about twenty feet before regaining his legs and tearing at top speed again in search of his elusive round rubber pal.

Of course, by the time he arrived at one of us, we would have tossed the ball again and it would be heading back in the opposite direction. He would tear up the grass changing direction, and off he would speed again. Sounds like torture, but he loved it and would, on occasion, get the ball away from us. Then it would be our turn to chase him down. Great fun and great times.

There were rare times though, I still recall, when I would go out to play with him and all I would find was his collar on the end of the chain; he had managed to slip off it. Now I grew up in a small town so the reality is he would never get run over by a car, but at those times I would feel horrible, like something bad had happened to him or soon would if I didn’t find him. I would fetch his ball and leash and go looking for him, calling his name, and searching all over town.

I would eventually find him, and he would have been having the time of his little life sniffing everything and jumping on anything with a similar number of legs as himself . . . no, he was not, um, fixed.

Funny how pets really do become one of the family. And it is funny, after almost thirty years that I still think about the little guy and fell such love for him. I think it’s great for kids to grow up with pets.

One day, when finances allow, I think we will be getting a dog for my daughter. Time will tell, and for now Fluffy-the-rat continues to entertain us.

Until next Sunday . . .

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