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Dogged

Being dogged is a good thing, at least in the sense I mean it. To me, “dogged” means “having a dog”, and I’ve been dogged for almost all of my almost 74 years.
The first dog was Smoky. He was a black Lab/mystery rescue. I don’t remember much about him, partly because he was only with us a few weeks before running away, partly because I was just a little kid when he was with us. Then we/I had, in order, Lassie, Timmy, Sandy, Arnold, Arthur, Igor, Zelda, Linus, Gonja, Sammy, Casey, Dooley, Nick, Remmy, Missy and Rosie. If you keep reading this blog, you’ll learn about every one of these four-footed blessings. But we’ll start with Lassie.

My older brother brought her home in his pocket. He and his date for an afternoon movie matinee had seen her in a pet store window and he just couldn’t resist her. (How much his resistance was lowered by a desire to impress his date with his love of puppies will never be known.)
Without consulting me, the family named the pocket puppy Lassie, though she was nothing like the collie, Lassie, of movie and TV fame. Our Lassie was a Shih Tzu who weighed something south of 20 pounds. But she was fierce. She guarded way above her weight.

We lived then on a classic post-war, middle class, non-developer suburban street, a kind of Father Knows Best street, although ours wasn’t quite as upscale. Our street, Sarles Lane, really was much more lane-like than street-like, not the broad, more avenue-like thoroughfare on which the beloved Anderson family lived. We barely had two lanes. In fact, I’m pretty sure we had only about 1.73 lanes paved, plus about .12 of a lane of hard-packed dirt on each side. But we did have old maples shading the street in summer, and dropping autumn leaves that we raked into giant piles that we kids loved to jump in before they were burned. (We’re talking 1945 here, long before there were anti-leaf burning/anti-pollution regulations. I don’t miss the smoke, but I sure do miss the smell of those burning leaves on the way home from the Saturday afternoon high school football game. But I digress…)

Our house was uphill from the street. You had to go up four steps, then along about a 20 foot stone path, then up two more steps to our front porch. That’s where Lassie spent much of her time. As indicated above, she guarded the house fiercely.

Charley, a wonderful Great Dane, or perhaps Great Dane-Boxer mix, lived toward the far end of our street. He was very big, of course, very gentle, and friendly, and had a wonderful sense of humor. He would fake an invasion of our property – Lassie’s domain – just about every afternoon. And he would wait at least until my younger sister and I got home from school, so we could watch the fun. He would climb the four steps up from the street and then just stand there, forepaws on the path, hind paws down on the second step, and stand silently until Lassie noticed him.

That usually didn’t take very long, but sometimes it did. Sometimes Lassie, fierce guardian though she was, would be fast asleep on the porch. No matter. Charley would wait quietly, with a combination Mona Lisa smile/ Cheshire cat grin on his handsome face. Instead of barking to wake Lassie up, Charley would do a bit of a Charley shuffle to send some faint sounds or arousing scents to Lassie. And when she caught those sounds or scents, the fun really began.
Lassie would jump up and bark her fierce, rapid, high-pitched bark and scurry down the path toward Charley. Barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark. Charley would wait until she got very close, then turn and take one giant step for a dog down to the bottom of the steps, pause momentarily to be sure Lassie was still coming after him, and then start his relaxed lope down the street. Off they would go, with Lassie taking about five barks and six steps for every one stride of Charley’s. Step,bark, step,bark, step,bark, stepbark, stepbark, step. They would lope and run their way past the Ketchum’s house on the other side of the street, past the scary old empty house we kids all avoided on Halloween, on and on. L O P E, step,bark, step,bark, step,bark….

The “chase” usually ended about even with the Locatelli’s yellow and white Victorian. Having run off the intruder, Lassie would turn and swagger her way home, head high, chest out, proud of her successful defense of our – no, her – property. Without Lassie at his heels, Charley would gear his lope down to a stroll and continue on his way home, stopping occasionally for a friendly “Hello” and an ear scratch from a neighbor.

Funny, but I don’t remember anything else about Lassie. No favorite toys, nor eating habits, nor idiosyncrasies of any kind. I don’t even remember when, or how, or why she left us. That’s most likely because I was so young during Lassie time that I simply don’t remember anything more than the preceding report.
I do, however, remember much about Timmy, the Golden Retriever who succeeded Lassie in dogging me.

But his is a story for another time.

Submitted by Jim Marks. Jim owns and publishes Pet Gazette, a free pet publication available here in Asheville. Visit PetGazette.com for the latest pet news. 

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