I read an article recently entitled “The Joy of Cooking for Dogs.” The topic was the ways that some people now prepare special meals for their pets instead of just filling the bowl with dry kibble. The pet owner’s reward is seeing the enthusiasm their animals show for the gourmet food.
Instead of making me feel guilty for shortchanging all our family pets, it set me to reminiscing about some of the family dogs I have been privileged to know across the years.
I remember vividly the day Daddy took me and my younger brother Joe to a neighbor’s to pick out a puppy. Mr. Joe Boyd had a litter of Catahoula Leopards that were weaning age, and we went there with the intention of bringing one home.
Joe and I played with those roly-poly pups for a while, discussing the merits of first one and then another. It came down to a choice between one that had some blue-gray coloring and another that was brown.
Since I was ten and Joe only six, Daddy looked to me for the final decision. As I stood there with a puppy under each arm, he said, “Which one do you want?”
As I looked longingly from one to the other, Mr. Boyd spoke up: “Why don't you boys take both,” and that’s the way it went. Big Jon and Sparky, named for a children’s radio program of the 1950s, became a pair of working cowdogs who earned their Purina Dog Chow, supplemented by whatever leftover food Mother chose to give them.
Roughly fifteen years later, when David, my first child was one year old, his mother and I picked out a Cocker-Poodle puppy for him as a birthday present. Miss Priscilla became a valued family member, traveling by car with us from North Carolina to Sherman in 1967. I had to build a special cage to keep the trunk lid ajar, and we made frequent stops to replenish her water supply.
David looked out for his dog and gladly shared her with Debbie and Doug, his sister and brother who joined the family after Prissy. All three children grew up alongside that dog, and I remember how sad we all were when she passed away.
For a while we made do with cats, ferrets, and tropical fish, but it wasn’t the same without a family dog. So in 1983, even though all the children were teenagers, we acquired another puppy, Sami, a lovely white Samoyed. She proved to be a wonderful mother, raising three litters of pups and teaching us all some lessons in animal husbandry, such as how you suckle nine babies when there are only eight nipples.
All of these dogs were special, but none of them was fed special food.
A retired English professor, Dr. Jerry Lincecum teaches classes for older adults who want to write their life stories. He welcomes your reminiscences on any topic:firstname.lastname@example.org