Dogs, Part Two
By Patrick F. Cannon
If you read Dogs, Part One, you may have realized that it disposed of only one of the eight dogs I have owned. You may now fear that this series will go on and on as each week I tell you about the other seven in turn. You may also ask with some justification why I’m not using this space to point out that tomorrow the buffoonish vulgarian Trump will be inaugurated (little did I know then how bad it would become).
Fear not. This week I will dispose of several dogs, and I’ll let the professional soothsayers wish they could dispose of Mr. Trump. As for me, I’m dropping my subscriptions to the New York Times, the Nation, the New Republic, and Mother Jones; and adding Mad Magazine and The Onion.
Back to the real dogs. After our Irish Setter, Rusty, failed to return from her evening run, I didn’t own another dog until I was married with two small children. With my first wife, Mary, and toddler Patrick and infant Beth, I was living in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Now, Mary was the daughter of a man who had once raised German Shepherds in a small Chicago apartment. A man who would rather dream than work, he later built a shed on his property in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to house his carrier pigeons. Anyway, Mary loved dogs (pigeons not so much) and so we decided to get one.
As it happened, a man who worked for me raised Golden Retrievers as hunting dogs. He had a litter on hand, and we bought a male puppy who we named Caliban, after the troublesome sprite in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The idea was that he and the kids would grow up together in love and harmony. Alas, dogs grow to their full size in about a year. Humans take somewhat longer. Now, Caliban was at the top of the Golden size scale and in his enthusiasm took to knocking my toddler son Patrick down on a more or less regular basis, mostly on hard surfaces. They didn’t have a concussion protocol in those days, so eventually we had to choose between our son and the dog. I won’t keep you in suspense; we chose Patrick.
A corporate power struggle, which my boss lost, caused us to return to the Chicago area to seek employment, and eventually we settled in Glenview. An opportunity to adopt a foundling Dalmatian named Dancer presented itself and we took the orphan in. It turned out he was an untrainable lunatic, although quite handsome. He also, to put it as discreetly as I can, had a serious problem with fecal gas. Indeed, he had the power to drive one out of a room or even the house. The combination eventually sent him packing.
After we moved to Oak Park in 1974 – where I would live for the next 42 years – Mary decided what we really needed was a German Shepherd, of which she had fond childhood memories. She found a breeder with pups, located Downstate (defined as anywhere in Illinois not in Cook or the immediately surrounding counties). We visited and picked out a cute little guy and named him Sam. I mentioned that dogs grow quickly, and Sam became a big, handsome fellow in short order. He had a highly developed protective instinct and a taste for wooden furniture.
Despite our best efforts, we were never able to cure him of these tendencies. At the same time that many of our friends told us that they were afraid to visit, I noticed a piece in the paper reporting that the Chicago Police Department was looking for recruits for its canine unit. Dear Sam soon became Office Sam and I like to think he struck fear into the hearts of malefactors throughout the city.
Our next dog was another foundling, a miniature Poodle named Mimi. We got her through the efforts of my mother-in-law Lil, who called one day and said someone at her workplace had a dog that needed a home, and dear Lil immediately said yes on our behalf. When would we come to pick the dog up?
Mimi was as sweet as a dog could be, although I had my doubts about the purity of her pedigree. Nevertheless, we loved and enjoyed her until she wandered out of the back yard and was run over and killed in our common driveway by a careless neighbor.
By now, you must be saying to yourself: clearly, this man is not meant to have a dog. But, against all odds, my luck was about to change. (To be continued.)
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon