I was looking through a past issue of GRIT and found the article “Best Dogs for Rural Living,” and it occurred to me that dogs have always been part of my life, even when I was living the urban life.
My first dog, Prince, was a St. Bernard and Collie mix. He was a big baby!
He entered my life through my girlfriend. Her old dog had one puppy, born under a rose bush. He was about 3 months old when I began begging my parents to let me have him as my pet.
It took a lot of coaxing but they relented and said I could bring him home just for the afternoon on a Saturday.
Well, Mary Alice and I, two 8 year olds, got a piece of clothesline for a leash and “hooked” him up to show my parents. He was all paws, never had been on a leash or had anything around his neck so he wasn’t all that cooperative. We took turns pulling, carrying and pushing him along. Just when we thought we were making progress, he decided he wasn’t going to walk anymore and sat down right in front of a neighbor who was mowing his lawn. Prince didn’t want to budge!
The neighbor laughed a lot as he helped us get Prince moving again, and we finally made it to my house.
At first, we stayed outside with him in the yard as my parents gave him the once over. The sun was beginning to set and they knew what it took for us to get him to our house so they said, “OK, bring him in the house for the night but he stays in the kitchen and goes home first thing in the morning.”
Poor Prince was tired from his ordeal and after we fed him, gave him water and a quick walk outside, he settled down on the kitchen floor and promptly went to sleep. I couldn’t stand it, not knowing what he was doing so I got a hand mirror and kept looking under the kitchen door to see what he was doing in there all by himself.
He wasn’t doing anything! He was sound asleep. The poor puppy was exhausted.
Needless to say, he never went back to Mary Alice’s house and he had the run of the house!
He very quickly became a “people dog,” loving everyone with his big slobbery licks.
As he grew up, he definitely was set in his ways. He had his big bed in my bedroom and his bedtime was 11 in the evening, no matter what was going on in the house. One evening, my parents had a bunch of friends over to play cards. They had finished their game and were all sitting in the family room talking when the clock chimed 11. Prince was in the family room with everyone and as soon as he heard the clock, he got up and walked in front of each person, staring, until everyone realized, he was ready for bed and telling them it was time to go home. Everyone got a big kick out of his ritual! When no one moved, he just lumbered upstairs to bed, got in with a big sigh and promptly went to sleep.
He wasn’t too happy about thunderstorms. As big as he was, as soon as he heard the first clap of thunder, he’d run upstairs to my parent’s bedroom and crawl his way under the bed. Now, there wasn’t a lot of clearance for a dog his size but he would crawl on his stomach, on hardwood floors, until he was safely under the bed with the bed skirt shutting out all signs of lightning.
The problem was, sometimes a storm would roll through during the day while I was at school and my dad was at work. That left only my mom…. She couldn’t get him out by herself because someone had to lift the bed while someone else pulled him out! He couldn’t get out by himself because he didn’t have any traction on the hardwood floors. On more than one occasion, he spent several hours under the bed until I got home from school to help get him out.
What a boy! He was my companion until the ripe old age of 16 years. It was a sad day when he wasn’t with us anymore. But, he lived long enough to see me grow up and get married.
I’ve had numerous canine companions in my life. In addition to Prince, Mike, a great German Shepherd; Misty, a German Shepherd/Collie mix; Taffy, a Siberian Husky; and two wonderful Golden Retrievers, Mindy and Mille; they have all been rescued in one way or another, and they all have “left their paw prints on my life.”