The short life of a curious dog
Dog with a Charge Account.
I guess it’s a very rare thing for a dog to have a charge account. But when I was growing up in the 1930s and 40s, mine did.
When I was about two or three years old, my dad came home with a puppy—a little white Fox Terrier with one black spot on his back. Naturally his name would be “Spot.”
My dad built Spot a house with an attached chain where we sometimes kept him tied. Although he did not like losing his freedom, he usually seemed to accept it. Once when he was tied he wiggled out of his harness and then went back and tried to get back in it.
Spot tended to bark at anything that moved even birds. Our next door neighbor complained about Spot’s barking. One night Spot disappeared. My sisters and I and some of the neighborhood kids wondered where Spot had gone. After about two days of hearing the kids calling Spot, our neighbor got tired of hearing it and asked my father to retrieve him. She had seen him take Spot away. He had taken him to a farmer friend and when he went to get him the farmer demanded that he buy Spot back if he really wanted him. Several days later Spot reappeared.
A typical terrier Spot was not shy about his feelings about people. For some reason he hated Larry, a boy who lived across the street. Larry was something of a bully and Spot bristled every time he saw him. One day when Spot was tied to his house and my father was raking the leaves in the backyard, Larry came around the house and Spot charged him so hard that he broke his chain. My father managed to stop the dog just before he reached Larry. If Spot had reached Larry there’s no telling the results. But one day Spot finally succeeded in biting Larry. When my father came home from work that evening Larry’s little sister went running up to him and said “Oh, Larry bit Spot!” Dad responded “I hope Larry has had his rabies shot.”
Spot loved you, ignored you, or hated you. There was an elderly black woman with about 40 pencils stuck in her hair who sometimes walked down the middle of our street. She was what is called today a “bag lady.” She was one of the people Spot ignored, but was interested in her. He would sit on our porch watching with his head cocked as she passed our house.
Spot grew up having the run of the town and became well known. He especially liked to visit Thompson’s Grocery Store. This was in the days before air conditioning and the store had a screen door that Spot often managed to slip through when a customer entered the store. Once inside he tended to help himself to anything he could reach and dash out the door. Candy bars were his favorites. Oddly, as far as I know, no one ever complained. The grocer kept an account of what Spot shop-lifted and sent my dad a monthly bill for Spot’s purchases.
When my mother and I visited my ailing grandmother the nurse who was taking care of her said she wanted to see the “famous Spot.” I was only too happy to go outside with her to see Spot. I was crushed when she said Spot was the ugliest dog she had ever seen. Looking back on it now I think she was teasing me, because everybody knew that Spot was beautiful.
Until he went into the navy during World War II, my dad operated a hardware store in in a town about nine miles from our home. Spot loved to ride there every chance he got. One morning Spot hopped in the car thinking he was going to the hardware but my dad played a trick on him and closed the car door and then left in his pickup truck. Later I let the dog out of the car and he promptly took off running. He showed up at the hardware about noon tired and dirty after running nine miles. So, a couple of the men working in the store gave Spot a bath. He never went back again.
When I was twelve my sister was walking up the road to visit a friend with Spot tagging along. A few minutes later she came home crying—Spot had been hit by a car and killed! My father got in the car to get his body but did not return for a long time. When he came home I asked, “where’s Spot?” He said he had taken him down the road and left his body in the woods! What a sad ending of a wonderful life of a wonderful dog.