Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Doggone It

Animals have been a big part of my life, whether I liked it or not. I always thought I was not a big animal lover. I would never mistreat any living thing but I honestly do not need the companionship of an animal.

That being said I must admit that my families have always had pets. They range from horses to rodents and almost everything in between.

Dogs. There have been so many dogs. If you have been around for a while you have read about our dog Trixie's puppies being thrown down the hole of our outdoor toilet. There have been countless others. For a while every dog we had was named Suzie. It did not matter if the dog was male or female, it was named Suzie. Don't ask why, I have no idea.

The dogs ranged in size from rat terrier to German Shepherd. Usually they were strays that one or the other of us kids (and sometimes Daddy) brought home. Mom did not like animals in the house so they always had houses outside.

Then I married a farm boy who loved having dogs too. We had four children who all love their pets as well.

My daughter is the biggest animal lover of them all. Our next door neighbor had well over a dozen dogs. She was worse than we were We only had a couple at a time.

If we went next door to visit my two year old daughter would go to the middle of the room and stretch out her arms waiting for the dogs to engulf her. She was in heaven.

My father-in-law liked German Shepherds. One time that his dog had puppies we decided to take a couple of them for the two boys we had at the time. We drove back for a visit to the farm to pick them up.

The boys each chose their puppies. They were little bits of fluff.

My sister-in-law was going to the store to pick up a few things to feed the family that was there. Because we did not get to see them often there were quite a few of us on the farm that day. My sister-in-law was being so careful as she backed out of the driveway so she would not hit any of the children.

She hit no children. But she ran over my oldest son's puppy. She felt terrible. A couple of years later when she and my husband's parents were visiting us, my son went up to her and said, "Shirley, why did you run over my dog?" 

We had an old hound dog named Redneck. He was reddish in color and his barks always turned into a baying noise. He was good with the children. Redneck was a fast runner. We lived on a fairly busy street. Motorcycles would come by and Redneck would take off after them. It took me a while to realize that he was not trying to attack them. He was racing them.

Redneck like to roam. He was well known to all the female dogs in the neighborhood. He was also a favorite target of the dog catcher who could never quite catch him.

One day I heard someone talking in front of the house. I opened the door to see who it was. There was the dog catcher trying to sweet talk Redneck into coming down from the porch so he could catch him in the net and take him a way.

Redneck was too smart for that. He was huddled up by the door. The dog catcher could not come onto private property so his best bet was to get the dog to come to him. When I opened the door Redneck rushed into the house. I smiled at the dog catcher and closed the door.

My husband found a dog that had been hit by a car. It was lying in the road and could not move. The dog was scared and growled to defend herself every time someone tried to help her. Finally one of the people who lived near there gave them an old blanket to throw over her so they could pick her up.

My husband took her to the vet. Her leg was broken in three places and her hip was completely shattered. The vet was not sure how well she would be able to heal but he did his best.

My husband came home with this beautiful Doberman in a leg cast. She was healing quite well. Unfortunately she was jealous of my younger two children. Any time they got near their father she would growl. She liked my oldest son and I think she was just a bit afraid of me. My second son did not seem to concern her one way or the other.

The children named her Sheba. Sheba was still in her cast but she could get around much better than the vet thought she would. Then she came into heat.

We had to keep her away from Redneck who was the neighborhood Lothario. It would not be good for her to have puppies in her condition. Not to mention that I did not want any more dogs to take care of.

We had somewhere to go so no one was going to be home. We carefully shut Redneck on the back porch and left Sheba in the house. You should never leave them alone together in a situation like that. We made sure everything was secure so they could not be together.

When we came home and opened the door, there were Sheba AND Redneck greeting us with big smiles on their faces. A few weeks later Sheba had her puppies. Thank goodness she had an easy time of it.

Some of the puppies looked like Redneck... little red hounds. Some looked like Sheba... little Dobermans. But where a Doberman is tan they were all red.

Sheba's disposition was worse after she had her babies. When she snapped at my daughter I laid down the law. She had to go.

I allowed the children to keep one puppy. Sheba and the other puppies were given new homes.

The puppy the children kept was a little Doberman-looking puppy. He was cute. They named him Attila Thor Doberhound.

Attila and his father got along well. Attila liked to race the motorcycles just like his father. And after his father was no longer with us, Attila became the favorite target of the dog catcher.

One day I looked out the window for no reason and saw Attila running like crazy. The dog catcher was after him. The dog catcher had a huge round metal ring about the size of a hula hoop. It held the net that the dog catcher intended to toss over Attila to capture him.

Attila was smart. He ran right up next to the fence. When the dog catcher threw the net it landed at an angle propped up by the fence so that Attila could run under the edge. He ran to the door I was holding open and into the house. I smiled at the dog catcher and closed the door.

Attila knew he was one of the children. He knew he was a different kind of child but he was one of them just the same. He watched television with them. He would put his rear end and hind legs up on the couch and hold himself in place with his front legs firmly on the floor.

Attila also played games with the others. Hide-and-seek was his favorite. If he was "it" he would wait until the others hid and then go find them. If not he would go hide until they found him.

My second son came home one day with a dog that he said had followed him home. Of course the piece of twine around its neck being held at the other end by my son had nothing to do with anything.

This was a big shaggy nasty dirty looking dog. She had long hair and was badly in need of brushing to get the tangles and old hair out of her fur. After that she was still a shaggy ugly dog. My son named her Shaggy.

I insisted that she be kept outside. My son fixed up the doghouse for her. Plenty of fresh straw so she would have a soft place to sleep. That did not last long. Soon she was in the house with the rest of us.

What we had not realized when she first came to live with us was that she was going to have babies. She had about 8 puppies. The children named them all and fully expected to be able to keep them I allowed them to keep one. His name was VaVoom because he looked like a cartoon character who could shatter mountains just by shouting VaVoom at them.

We found homes for the rest of the puppies. Eventually Shaggy wandered away. She had been a stray dog for a long time and I think she missed her freedom.

Just before a cub scout meeting (I was the den mother so it was at our house) VaVoom ran into the street and was hit by a truck. My children all saw it. I told them we would have a funeral right after the cub scout meeting was over.

When the other boys arrived my children were all in mourning. They sat with their faces buried in the backs of chairs and would not participate. I finally sent the other boys home early so we could say good bye to their pet.

I was at a friend's house. The neighbors had small children. Then they got a puppy. They would tie up the puppy in the yard with no water and leave it there all day. Then I saw the children poking at it with a stick. I could contain myself no longer. I went over to talk to the mother.

She told me they were thinking of taking the puppy to the dog pound. It would be euthanized there. I told her if they were not going to keep it I would take it. (See? I am as bad as the rest of my family.) She immediately handed me the puppy and I took her home.

We named her Tilly after Attila who was no longer with us. She was a beautiful dog of mixed breed. She did not bark at all for months. Actually she was never much of a barker unless it was absolutely necessary.

We had taken in a stray cat soon after we moved into a new house. My daughter who liked animals much more than people wanted to bring her in when the weather started to get cold. I resisted as long as I could then finally relented and in she came.

Of course she had kittens soon after. It seemed like we were overrun with cats. People do not take in kittens as quickly as they do puppies for some reason.

Tilly was probably not even old enough to be weaned when I got her. So she was around all these cats. I think she identified with them because she did not know any dogs.She would climb up onto a chair and from there onto the window sill. She would lie there sunning herself just like the cats did.

She kept growing and it was getting harder for her to lie in the window because of her size. The day that she let herself relax a little too much and fell out of the window I laughed.

Tilly was such a lady. She would not eat in front of us at all. And she certainly did not want scraps of our food. My children would try to force her to take pieces of meat from them but she was having none of it. You could have placed a steak on the floor and walked away and Tilly would not even sniff at it.

Tilly liked her dog food. The dog treats she would eat were Pupperonis. And she liked cherry flavored mentholated cough drops.

She also liked money. A twenty dollar bill meant we had ordered pizza and she could guard the door. My son kept some of his cash on a shelf beside his bed. Tilly like to pull the money onto the bed and roll in it.

One time we ordered fast food. The place we ordered from has a drink called Frostys. They are similar to a milkshake. We were all sitting in the living room eating and talking. As usual I was doing a lot of the talking. My children were all looking at each other and snickering but I kept talking anyway.

Then I reached down to take a sip of my Frosty that was on the floor beside my feet. Tilly's nose was in it! She was stealing my Frosty. The kids burst into laughter and I began to laugh too. It was so out of character for her.

These are just a few of the dogs. And like I said there were many other pets. Another day perhaps.

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