The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dogs I Have Known

            My family never had pets when I was growing up.  There was a turtle and a tadpole, but they didn't last much more that a few days.  Other than those two failed experiments, my parents didn't allow animals in the house.

             In fact, I don't really recall any families in our neighborhoods that had pets.  In San Diego there was Curtis, my friend Ross's big brother, who often kept snakes.  And in Cleveland, Ohio, when I was very small, I recall one neighbor that had a handsome Irish setter that we rarely saw.  Over all though, animals were scarce in my childhood.

              On Saturday mornings Rin Tin Tin, a western than featured a German shepherd, was one show I would occasionally watch.  The other dog show that I watched for many years almost unfailingly was Lassie, the collie dog that was always rescuing his owner, Timmy, or others that might be in peril.  Other than these and a few other movie and TV dogs, and dogs that I occasionally saw in circuses, I do not recall being exposed to dogs in real life. 
               After my family moved to Northern Indiana in the mid-sixties, my family's juggling act began working with a dog act from Chicago.  The act was Arwood's Pink Poodles.  When we first started working with the Arwoods, the act consisted of a father and son who performed acrobatic tricks and had the pink poodles perform assorted dog tricks.  The son was about my age and we became good friends and remain friends to this day.  I don't know if he still owns any dogs or not.

           In 1966 my family moved to East Tennessee and encountered a new phenomenon--stray dogs.   I had never seen stray dogs in previous places where I had lived.  In Tennessee more people owned dogs and dumping unwanted dogs was more common.  Apparently at that time animal control either wasn't as active or was not usually contacted.

          This was as close to dog ownership that I ever came.  Dogs would periodically dump our trash cans looking for food.  These dogs were unapproachable because they were so afraid of humans.  I became attached to a beautiful dog I called Blackie.  I left food for her and she eventually became comfortable with my presence.  After much wooing I finally was able to feed her by hand and pet her.  She began staying at our house and defending it as her territory.

          Her other "dog friends" would continue to stop by and Blackie would regularly take off and roam with them.  Later she would return "home" where she would eat and sleep.  I could not call her my dog--she was not willing to be owned.  Instead it was more like she adopted me and accepted our house as her home base.  I don't really know how old she was or where she came from but she was with us for several years.  Then one morning we found her dead in our front yard.  I don't know if it had been a natural death or if she had been poisoned.  Animal control came and took her away.

             In the mid-seventies I lived at the border of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in a log cabin which I shared with three friends.  One of my friends purchased an Irish Setter which he called Red.  There was also a German shepherd living with us that we called Big Dog.  I don't know who, if anyone, owned the shepherd.  At that time, everyone living in the cabin was working except for me.  I stayed at home to tend to the house since it was in a remote place and we were concerned with break-ins.  Sometimes I would hike into the park and the dogs would always follow me.  Somehow these dogs always just seemed like my friends.  They just hung out with me.
        Walking out in the country with an unleashed dog is a pretty cool experience. They make you feel safer--just in case you needed help or something.  It was kind of like being with Lassie or Rin Tin Tin.  It's not really legal to do this in the National Park, but I figured they weren't my dogs and I couldn't help it if they were following me.  Besides the places where I was hiking were so remote that encountering a park ranger was very unlikely.

              I've never owned a dog, but I've made friends with a few.   A dog friend is kind of nice.  I can't say they were ever my best friends, but they were pleasant friends.  If I ever live in the country again I'll probably get a dog to live on the property.  I can't say I'll necessarily own the dog.  After all, who really owns who?

             Did you have a dog when you were growing up?   Did many of your neighbors own dogs?  Did you have a favorite dog TV show?   How do you feel about trained performing dogs?   Have you ever made friends with a stray dog?   Have you ever met up with a rabid or otherwise dangerous dog that threatened you?   Is there a dog in your life that owns you?



  1. dogs are lovely creatures. I support the organizations which believe that if people want to have a pet dog and have conditions and space to keep one, they should not buy it from a breeder or similar, but adopt a sick one or a homeless one from a dog-pound.
    I had at least ten dogs in my life. I had one called Boban (or Bob in English :) who was a huge star and kinda like a celebrity in my old block because he had 25 human years when he died and was alive even before I was born. He was adored by all the neighborhood because many children were born and grew up watching him walk around the street, playing with him, patting him ...

  2. As a native East Tennessean, I can vouch for your comment about people dumping pets. It's a tragedy.
    And yes, we always had dogs when I was a kid. I have not had one as an adult. Four kids are enough to keep up with!

  3. Kiki, Queenie, Little Bit, Bo, Big Stuff, Flippy, Jose, Nero, Shadow, Wrangler, Shiner ... all my canine friends past and present. All sizes, from Chihuahua to Great Dane. Love dogs. Like people, they each have unique personalities. And I recently learned that like people, working dogs can suffer PTSD.

  4. My dad wouldn't allow pets either after I stepped on a turtle when I was about 3 and we had to flush it down the toilet. He thought you'd get attached to the pet, then it would die. Why bother? I never had a dog until I met my hubby in 1994. He already had a dog, Wolfie, a collie mix. Now, we have Buddy, a blue-heeler, border collie mix. He's such a love - just loves everyone. I can't imagine not having a pet because it might die. Then you've missed out on all the love in between. How sad.

  5. I can honestly say I can't remember not having a dog. Kentucky is not much different than TN, and it is sad.

    Great sentiment, though and I don't own my dogs I co-habitat with them.

    Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  6. I had a dog as a child ...until I was 16. I loved that dog and was hearbroken when he got ill and we had to part with him.
    We had a dog when the children was young and Sheba was with us for 16 yrs,.....She was the subject of my very first poem after she was put to sleep. She was a mixture by breeds but oh so faithful and a good friend.Thanks for stirring up some old memories.


  7. Lee-

    Dogs and cats my whole life, but as an adult mostly cats (since dogs are more labor intensive).

    There is definitely a different dynamic.

    You asked if a dog owns you. I've never seen that with a dog, but a cat definitely has it's own idea of what the pecking order is, and lets you know!

  8. You never had a dog? How tragic. We had several when I was growing up. My favorite died when I was in college and I've not had one since. Maybe someday!

  9. Dezmond -- I don't know about adopting a sick dog, but I agree with you about obtaining a homeless one from a shelter over spending big bucks for something from a breeder, unless you're doing the show dog thing or something like that.

    Debbie -- I know a lot of times kids want a dog, but who ends up taking care of it--and the kids!

    Carol -- And from my experience stray dogs can suffer from a fear that has probably come from abusive treatment.

    Karen -- If death is the issue, well we're all gonna die, dogs included.

    Jules -- Co-habitation is a good way of putting it.

    Yvonne -- After many years we can really get attached to a pet where they just seem to be part of the family.

    Larry -- Dogs can definitely be buddies. Cats like to be treated like royalty.

  10. Did you have a dog when you were growing up?


    Did many of your neighbors own dogs?


    Did you have a favorite dog TV show?


    How do you feel about trained performing dogs?


    Have you ever made friends with a stray dog?


    Have you ever met up with a rabid or otherwise dangerous dog that threatened you?


    Is there a dog in your life that owns you?


    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  11. Alex-- Like I said, in those years, the 50's and early 60's, where we were living I don't think any of our neighbors owned a dog. If they did, the dogs were kept pretty much out of sight. This would have been in Cleveland, Ohio; Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; San Diego, California; and the Chicagoland area. I don't know why that would have been, but maybe it was a cultural or economic thing at that time.

    StMc -- Rollover! Sit! Play dead! Speak! Don't you want to tell us all something about your upcoming novel? The last book you read? Your thoughts on Harry Potter or Twilight?

  12. What about Fatso? The dog Joy ran over.

  13. Hi Emilee!-- That's what my mother said. The story of Fatso maybe will be a whole separate blog post one day.

  14. Yes I had dogs growing up. Most of them were mutts. I am allergic now so I'm unable to have any furry pets. I would love a snake though.

  15. Pal--I owned a snake once. It's a low maintenance pet. You only have to buy a mouse or some other little critter to throw into the cage now and then. It's always entertaining watching the snake disable its prey and then swallow it whole. It was kind of a hassle when the snake escaped though and I had to figure out where it was hiding. Thank goodness I always found it--I would have been totally creeped out if one day it had disappeared and I couldn't find it.

  16. I really enjoyed learning more of your past Arlee. You seem to have led a very interesting life so far!!
    I love dogs, I am owned. I have 2. A pug which I purchased and a stray that made her home with us. They are both very sweet and spoiled.
    We had a big mutt for years as my older children were growing up. We got him from a shelter. He lived with us for 10 years before passing from Pancreatitis. It was one of the saddest moments in our lives and I swore I would never get another dog. And now her I am with these two little dogs. What can I say?
    I don't like Pit Bulls. They scare me. Love Di ♥

  17. I had a few "back yard" dogs when I was growing up, but never bonded with them. I think you have to see the love between a dog and a person on a constant basis to be open the possibility of being able to love one yourself.
    When I married, moved to the suburbs and had kids, I began to see my neighbors with their dogs and began consider owning a dog, too...only after my last child was independent (age 8) because I did not want another "baby."
    My kids begged for a dog, and now that we have her, I have no regrets. The nurturing towards the dog gives me an indication of how affectionate they will hopefully be towards their future kids. And the joy is immeasureable. I couldn't let them grow up without a pet because they wanted one so badly.
    The dog is quite happy too. :)

  18. Diana --- I like the mutts and that's what I think I'd have if I were to have a dog. They seem more resilient and less demanding.

    StMc--- Woof!

    Anita -- I think the challenge of bonding with a scared stray and getting them to trust me made my relationship with them more appealing. Earning their trust and gaining a sense of loyalty made it all seem like a real friendship rather than a master / pet relationship. I don't like the idea of having pets where I am living in such close proximity to other people.

  19. Yes to all of your questions Lee, although I had several strays, they were not rabid (thank goodness.)

  20. Since you dedicated a few posts to dogs, I thought I'd mention about a really cool short story that I read, and made me laughed so much. Here is the link:

    Hope you like it :-D


  21. Paula -- Thanks for leaving a oomment.

    Doris -- Enjoyed reading the story. That was one little dog with an odd sense of humor I guess.


Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.