December 29, 2007

Sandy Dundee

My mind seems to have gone to the dogs, lately. I don't know why, but everywhere I go, I read something about a dog, or someone sends me something about one. I even went to the New York Times today (forty lashes: I deserve at least that many for going to TNYT for any reason) to read a dog story--well, a story about dog trainers. Anyway, it has conjured up the memories of some of the dogs I have known, at one time or another. They haven't all been nice ones, either, but mostly they have been.

I haven't always been that fond of them---in fact, for many years I was terrified of them, having had a nasty bite from one, requiring several stitiches, and the subsequent rabies shots to follow. I was only thirteen years old, at a carnival, just strolling along, minding my own business, and the little critter came running from one of the tents and chomped down on my leg. It was a traveling carnival, and by the time that I had gotten treated at the local emergency room, the carny people who owned the dog, packed up and hightailed it out of town, taking the dog with them, of course, which was the reason I had to take all of those shots--no dog to test for rabies.

Daddy always owned a dog of one kind, or another, including a lot of hunting dogs, and a few others, but Daddy was lord and master, and only a look, or a word, and they obeyed any command, so I was never afraid of them. After that little carnival episode, all other dogs scared me, and I had no fondness for them, whatsoever, until I had my two sons, and all little boys have to have a dog. It was after that, that I began to see, that just like people, they are not all bad, not all good, not all pretty, and not all ugly, and it only takes a little "getting to know you" on both sides. And just like children, some are naughty, and some are little comedienes.

One of our dogs, Sandy, was one of the funniest dogs in the world! We got her, and her sister, Buffy, when they were just old enough to wean from their mother. They were beautiful Golden Retrievers, and when they were about six months old, they both came down with Parvo, which is a deadly virus, and wreaks havoc on the poor animal. They both spent time at the veterinarian's hospital, but Buffy didn't make it. The doctor told us, finally, that there was nothing more to be done for Sandy, either, and the kindest thing would be to euthanize her. We refused, and brought her home, and my son, Mike, nursed her back to health. She was a pathetic case, too. She would lie on her side, with her tongue hanging out, and that was about all she could do for several weeks. Then she began to grow stronger and stronger, until she was bounding around just as before. The only after-effects of the illness was that she stopped growing. Just like that, she grew no more, and stayed the size of a six month old pup! She adored Mike, and was his constant companion, and she kept us laughing at her antics all the time.

When we lived in Florida, she was almost caught by an alligator, and had a couple of tooth scratches on her haunch to prove it. After that, we would put a bandana around her neck, strap a toy knife in a sheath around her, and when we would say, "Sandy! Alligator!" She would snap her head around, taking the toy knife into her mouth, and look at us with her Barney Fife look! While wearing her outfit, we called her Sandy Dundee!

One Labor Day, she got out of the yard, and we couldn't find her, anywhere. A short time later, we saw her running up the street with a whole bag of buns in her mouth. We had no idea where she had gotten them. Right after that, she took off again, and this time, she came back with a whole block of butter, dropped it, and took off again, disappearing completely. Next, here she came with a piece of meat of some kind, and ashes all around her nose and mouth! She took off again, and we tried following her, but there was no sign of her anywhere! This time, we met her coming up the street, with a deflated beach ball, soaking wet, from head to toe! We were horrified, because it seems that she had found someone's Labor Day cookout, and had made off with just about everything they had! She had been cutting through yards, which was the reason she disappeared so quickly, and we were unable to find her. We figured that she actually went into the pool after the beach ball, or they finally caught her snitching all their stuff and squirted her with the hose. We asked around, trying to find out who was missing their Labor Day cookout stuff, but never found out where she had been! And Sandy? Well, she was so proud of herself, and walked around all day with what we called her Barney Fife look--you know the cocky, smug one that he always got when he thought he had outsmarted Sheriff Taylor, or the local bad guy? We laughed so much, but I'll bet that poor family wasn't laughing at all!

When she was nearly four years old, she was hit by a car, which was flying up the rural road where we lived, at about sixty miles an hour. The driver didn't stop, or even slow down, and we lost our precious girl who had given us so much joy. And even as she faded away, lying there surrounded by the people who loved her, and were telling her how much, her eyes were full of fear and pain, but even so, they were filled with love for her people--especially for her Mike. Her eyes never left his face.

Do you think that dogs really do feel all the emotions that humans feel, like love? I do.