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The Dogs that Got Away

A boy and his dog make a glorious pair: No better friendship is found anywhere

Edgar Guest

102_0259After penning Stray Ally, and in anticipation of its release March 4, I have been mentally reviewing my lifetime canine companions. My experience with dogs began young, and I lost out on much learning due in part to my mother. Part of it was her economic status as a single mother, Christian school teacher with two boys. Part was also her lack of experience with domestic animals, primarily cats, which she loathed, and dogs, who often just need an alpha male to handle them: put them in their place if you will. I don’t blame her, but we often could not keep dogs as long as we wished, and I became a dog lover through experiencing other people’s pets.

Our first was Ricky. Ricky was a black lab, and his being my first may be the reason for my affinity for labs now. He came to us through a cousin, as a puppy. But Ricky had big paws. No, not just big paws. Gigantic paws. Our yard was not fenced, so chaining such an animal seemed cruel, and as he grew he became a burden for our small, poor family. It was like a third mouth for my mother to feed. Luckily we had an uncle who had a fenced yard, and also two boys who would play with him. Ricky became their dog, and I got to see him pretty regularly. When I was in Junior High, already nearly six feet tall, our heads were even when he stood on his hind legs. My mom never could have coped with such a large animal.

Sonny was not my dog. He was a cocker spaniel, and we used to ‘dog-sit’ him while his owners went on vacation. There was only one small issue: Sonny was an escape artist. I knew little of dogs, and their playful instincts, so it took me awhile to figure out that chasing him all over the mobile home park where we grew up, while not fun for us, was quite the game for him. I loved that dog, while at the same time despising his wanderlust. Eventually his owners moved away, and we lost a ready source of summer funding, canine entertainment, and exercise.

Then there was J.J. By far the weirdest dog I ever owned, I don’t remember what the J.J. stood for, or if we just picked two letters of the alphabet. He was a cocker-blue heeler mix, medium sized, but full of energy and mischief. The dog could leap from sitting to grab a Frisbee at my head height, by that time about six feet, and would chew up anything. He had a green blanket, pieces of which often decorated his yard leavings.

JJ

He was also an escape artist, the Houdini of dogs. He found a variety of ways to escape our various containment measures, including freeing his own chain from poles, trees, and porches. Often we would find him, dragging his chain behind him, running through the neighborhood. Sometimes a neighbor would call the number on his tag, revealing to us he had tangled himself around their porch, and requesting we come get him. You understand the puzzle of that? He freed himself from our purposeful chaining of him to our porch, only to become accidentally chained to someone else’s.

Finally, we were forced, due to my mother’s work, to move to Arizona, something I was not happy about on many levels. We were moving to an apartment, so J.J. had to go. Fortunately we found a rancher to take him, someone who had acres for him to run on. Just what that dog needed. I hated Arizona, but I think on another level, I hated not having a dog.

I didn’t get one again until I was an adult, and even then, ideal circumstances for dog ownership did not present themselves until the last decade or so. I went through the cat phase, and cats are fine, and have their own merits. But I have always been a dog lover, always will be.

So when I penned Stray Ally, I wrote in all the dogs I have known. Some mine, some belonging to others, some pulled from my dreams. All of mine have been adopted or rescued from some circumstance or in some sense.

Have you rescued a dog who touched your life? Has a dog helped pull you through tough times? Tell me about it at author_at_troylamberwrites.com.

Published inAdvice for Authors