Dogs in Our Lives

I wrote about other pets a few days ago, but have been thinking about dogs today. When I was a child we rarely had dogs, as a dog would be just one more thing for Mom to take care of in addition to six children. However, when we lived in Phoenix in the early 1950s we had a small terrier for a while. I am not sure how or why we got it, but I think it was because Mom was told the poor little thing would be put to sleep if she didn’t take it on. Unfortunately, the dog was incorrigible, and barked and snapped all the time. We kids of course loved it, but once Mom was informed that no mail would be delivered to mailbox until the dog that snapped at the mailman was eliminated. Mom told us that the dog “ran away”, but we as teenagers understood that the dog went to the pound.  When the other kids were in high school they held “trials” of Mom for “the murder of the dog”. They had a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a judge. Mom was interrogated about the “murder” and of course was convicted.  This game was replayed a number of times, always with the same result.

Later, in 1954 when we lived in Des Moines, we got another puppy.  The little terrier puppy was named Corky. At the same time Mom was trying to housebreak a puppy and potty train the twins, Gary and Gayle. In those days there were no Pampers or fancy diapers like there are now. The twins wore cloth diapers with plastic pants over them that leaked regularly. From time to time Mom would find puddles on the floor but couldn’t tell who left them. The twins quickly learned to say “Corky did it”, whether the poor little dog did or not. Later some crayon coloring was found on the walls, and of course the twins said “Corky did it”.  Mom knew that wasn’t true.

Maybe Sue will write about “Tad” and her experiences with him when she was in high school, or Glenn or Steve will write about “Pansy Mae Wonder Woman Brown”.  They can send the stories to me.  Please?


One thought on “Dogs in Our Lives

  1. When we lived in Des Moines, Iowa, we had a small dog. I’m not sure if it was Corky, that Dan wrote about. But I vividly remember this dog being hit by a car in front of our house on Witmer Street. I can still see his little body lying, lifeless, in the street by the curb. Daddy got a small box to put him in, closed up the four flaps of the box, and left it on the grass parking strip in front of the house. Some animal control service was to come pick it up. We never spoke about this. Nobody talked about him or discussed what happened later or what happened after death. We knew not to ask questions. Daddy put us all back to work. It was over – the dog was gone.

    Many years later, Mom and I discussed Daddy’s death. She apologized to me for never having talked about his death, or even talking about him. She said that she was raised to be very closed about personal feelings, and that when our dog had died Daddy just said to ignore it and get the kids back to work. So she remembered that and tried to do the same thing after our father’s death. She tried to keep us busy and directed. I know she cried in her bed alone at night. She must have felt terrified, alone, abandoned and in shock. How she found the power and energy to go on is a mystery to many. (I now know that it came through faith and powerful prayer, which she also never talked about.) Mom had huge regrets about how she handled her children’s feelings after Daddy’s death. But she did the best she could at the time.

    This is what we all do. We do the best we can under our present circumstances, and then deal with the consequences. I am so grateful for my Mother and the great example she has always been to me. I am thankful she could admit when she made mistakes and always took responsibility for every part of her life. She has always been an inspiration to me and the hero of my life.

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