Friday, August 17, 2018

DOGGERS (Part One of Two)

Many people are animal lovers.  Loving dogs especially. My own Dear Heart is one such. Truth be told, she would make an excellent veterinarian assistant.

How we relate to our four-legged friends probably has a lot to do with how we were introduced to them early on. My brothers and I grew up with Great Danes, a noble species. “Gainor” was our first. She was so beloved her name was eventually passed on to another Dane in our household.  There is, somewhere, a formal picture of the young Reilly Boyz sitting on the floor around Gainor. Mischievous brothers in placid poses which no doubt had to do with the serenity projected by regal Gainor.

When we were little guys everything and everybody was big.  And Gainor was very big. She was loyal, friendly, and a marvelous, comfortable cushion. She was also obedient. When Cousin John walked up the pathway to the picket fence surrounding our porch, I yelled: “Sic him!” Gainor was up and over that fence in a blink. Heartbeats paused all round, notably Cousin John's. After assuring that John was okay, my mother then turned her attention to me. Several very long days followed. I have not issued a command to a dog since that moment at the picket fence. When Gainor departed for Doggie Heaven the air went out of the house. Eventually, Gainor was replaced by Timmy, an English bulldog. Timmy was everything Gainor was not.  Regal bearing was a non-starter.  He was friendly enough but a slobbering soul if there ever was one. As the years rolled by, there were several other misfits in residence.

The responsibility for ending the household partnership between dogs and humanity laid with Good Old Dad.  My standard exit line was “it's not fair to keep a dog all cooped up when they need lots and lots of room to run around. Like on a big farm.” That statement is an evergreen with my now-adult offspring. When there's any kind of misunderstanding one or more of them will bellow “it's off to a farm!” Kids nowadays embrace the “he's/she's part of the family” philosophy which neatly overwhelms objections from any parent anywhere.  There's no more shipping the unwanted off to a farm.

(I've got to sign off now because of my editor's word-count rules. Try to join me next time for my closing column on “Doggers”.

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