By Virginia Walters
For the Peninsula Clarion
I have been thinking about dogs lately. Maybe because a lot has been made of “finally” there is a dog back in the White House. Or two. And the FIRST rescue dog at that. (So many first bodies for this administration.) I have always believed some people should not have pets. When they are wise enough to know it, all the better. And some circumstances prevent people from owning pets. They, too, are wise if they don’t try to juggle the situation to the detriment of everyone, usually the unlucky pet.
My parents had water-spaniels when I was a kid: Tar-Baby and Queenie. Eventually, after several generations, they settled into enjoying my brother’s dogs as their “grand-dogs.”
Our first family dog was a shepherd sized mutt named Timber. #1 Son was about 2, just the age to wander. Timber would herd him back into the yard gently nudging him away from all the fun stuff a toddler wants to explore. Son would get so mad “Timber won’t let me!” he’d yell. We had not trained the dog, he just knew by instinct what his job was.
Next was a Chihuahua mix we called Twillager. She identified as a Great Dane. If hubby went to bed first, she’d stake out my pillow and bare her teeth when I tried to get into bed. We lost her when she chased a deer that had wandered into our yard. She apparently got lost (or stomped) in the woods. We couldn’t find her, and we looked for days.
Our next best friend was Heinie, a fox terrier. He was definitely Hubby’s dog, but allowed the rest of us to share the house and vehicles. He went everywhere with us: the store, the grandparents’, camping. We accidentally left him at a campsite one time, each of us thinking the other had made sure he was in the rig. We drove back 10 miles and found him sitting indignantly in the middle of the camp spot. He jumped into the front seat and refused to acknowledge any of us (even hubby) for the rest of the day. He came to Alaska with us, and enjoyed life on the beach immensely. Chasing seagulls was his game. Never caught one, but gave it a good try.
Next was Chi-Chi, a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix. I acquired her as a tiny puppy at UAF one summer. She was so tiny I brought her home in my pocket. We had been without a dog for awhile so a pup was a great distraction. She was definitely my dog. She would wait for me at the door when it was time for school to be out, and she’d pace if I didn’t show up on time. She lived with us in the village, and traveled to the fish site every summer. She tolerated the beach, but the mud and sand were unfriendly to her long hair. She made the best of it however, and we spent lots of agate searching time. She ignored the seagulls.
And then Ralph, a Lhasa Apso. We got him after we moved to Kenai. Middle son called one evening and asked if we had a dog yet. He explained that a girl had just come to town and had a puppy, but she couldn’t find a place to live with the dog and it would have to go to the pound. Did we want it? It would be small dog.
Lhasa Apsos are not small dogs, as I was defining ‘small’. And he had lots of hair. He loved the beach. The first summer there the first thing he did was roll in the mud, long hair and all. He came away looking like a dirty mop. The next spring we had him sheared so he could be hosed off after his days of rollicking in the mud. Ralph was a wanderer, and although we had a fenced yard, there were times we had to chase him down in the neighborhood. I still see fluffy gray and white dogs that remind me of an errant Lhasa Apso I once knew.
All of our dogs have been ‘rescue’ dogs: from friends, from kids on a street corner with a box, from a student at the SUB. It never occurred to me to chalk it up as a good deed because I felt I was the one to benefit. Our pets always became family members, and their loss bit deeply each time.
It has been a few years since we have had a dog. After retirement we traveled a lot out of state, so thought it better not to have a pet, and since settling in to life as Senior Citizens, we just haven’t found the soul mate to share our Golden Years. Maybe next year.
Virginia can be contacted at email@example.com.