For The Twelve Days of Christmas, December second, National Mutt Day
| ”When I was younger, I had a...”” Canine. Actually, a had a few. At least three of them were purebred. The first was Tawny. Tawny was named for his color. He and I were great friends. He’d be tied to the big tree in the back yard, and I’d go racing over to see him. “Tawny!” He would jump up to see me, stand on his hind legs and put his paws on my shoulders. He was a Rhodesian Ridgeback and loved me as much as I loved him. There were only two problems with our friendship.
1) He wasn’t my dog.
2) The neighbors who owned him were terrified he’d hurt me.
Those neighbors saw a five-year-old girl racing toward their large dog. I got yelled at a lot by them and my parents. They didn’t get it. He was my friend, and a good dog, and wasn’t a bit dangerous. Why they couldn’t understand that, I don’t know. I do know that my mum was more likely to scold me or try to explain that I couldn’t do that. To my parent’s credit, I think they agreed with me—my father was a dog person—but had to keep telling me to stop.
I never stopped. I have had stubbornness issues.
Really, he belonged somewhere else. He was born to run at top speeds through a scorching hot climate, not be a house dog for several senior citizens in Massachusetts. He suffered arthritis as he aged, but remained a good friend until his death. When he passed, those neighbors got a Newfoundland named Prunella and installed a dog run, presumably to protect me. She was another good dog, but no replacement for Tawny.
Another family on my street had Happy, whose name suited him. He was a black-and-white scrap of dog who was friendly and glad to see me. He is featured in one of my sister’s wedding photos. I was sittting, all dressed up and bored out of my mind, on the front step. I was five, frustrated by the craziness inside my house, and wishing we could get on with it. Happy came over to visit, and I sat petting him. It was the best part of my day to that moment. I don’t know why the wedding photographer was in front of my house, but my family still has the picture.
There were other dogs—Barney and Erica, Bosun, Skippy—none of them mine.
I was in my thirties when we took in Edie. We were her third home. Edie was originally a shelter dog named Heidi, and the people we got her from said they looked at each other and said, “We can do better than Heidi.” Our friends had another dog, and the two canines did not hit it off. We saw her and fell in love, and my husband mentioned we would take her in if they ever needed to get rid of her. We knew nothing of their dog issues, and they were ecstatic.
Edie was a Black Lab/Newfoundland cross. She would have made a good working dog for someone. She was intelligent, protective, and mischevious. Nothing stopped her from protecting our kids. When our younger son escaped the house and ran into the street, she jumped through the screen in the storm door to retrieve him, and barked until I came to investigate.
We never got around to replacing the screen. It was a low priority, and the longer we took, the less important it became.
The Fourth of July arrived, and with it the big fireworks display at the local park. We never went. It was always mobbed, and we lived nearby, so the show was visible from our street. So, I’m outside with my family. People are hanging around the end of the street, my sons have glowsticks hanging around their necks so we can spot them in the dark, and fireworks are going off overhead. We left Edie inside, but she came racing past us, a speeding black blur, and jumped through the place the screen should be. My husband had no idea what was going on there, so he went inside to check.
He returned and told me “Edie has a gentleman caller.” Edie was inside, but a Black Lab had taken refuge with us. He had been at the park with his owner. The fireworks went off and he bolted. It was at least half a mile to our house, but he never hesitated to go through the space for the screen and into our house. Edie was thrilled to have made a friend, and my husband called the owner when the fireworks had ended. Roughly an hour later, he showed up and reclaimed his pooch. We never figured out how he knew where to run, but Edie had a terrific July fourth.
For National Mutt day, I want to share a short film I’ve liked for several years. It’s about a dog, and his dream. The song is Happier and the artist is Marshmello. This version of the song features Bastille. Enjoy.