Sunday, August 5, 2007


A great many years ago, I had a birthday on a weekday.

The Saturday after my birthday, my Mother took me to get my birthday present... my very own puppy.

I'd wanted a dog for some time, had been hinting, cutting out pictures of dogs from the Ladies Home Journal and Redbook... I'd give the dogs names, and pet them.

It was rather pathetic, if you really think about it.

We weren't poor, but, we were far from being well off. Hell, we were far from being middle class.

Both of my parents worked, an anomaly in not only my generation, but, our area of the country. Mother was to stay at home, and bake cookies and bandage knees.

Mine answered the switchboard at a local industrial corporation, where she was one of the first employees they hired. This gave her special privileges, she parked near the front door and she was allowed to take an extra 14 minutes at lunch, making up the time by coming in seven minutes early and leaving seven minutes late. Why the extra 14 minutes, you ask?

This allowed her to dash out of the office at 11.53A, run to her car in her heels and tight skirt, throw herself in the seat of the Buick with the wooden drivers window, peel out of the parking lot, take the back roads, and arrive in the driveway of our home, slamming on the brakes, shutting off the car and once again running in those heels.

She'd careen into the house in time for my MawMaw to put her lunch on a tray in front of the sofa in the den (created from the old carport) to allow the two of them to watch As the World Turns and Love is a Many Splendored Thing.

With the last commercial, the route was reversed, and Mother slid back into her chair at 1.07P, to answer her first after lunch phone call.

She was never late.

As I said, my Mother worked, and even with that, we weren't able to splurge on things.

Her bright idea to buy a dog for me rather than take one of the pups from the litter down the street wasn't one of her, well, brighter, ideas. I was content with the idea of a pup from that group. I played with them daily, yanking them off the mother as they nursed... we all did. I even had mine picked out and named.

Mother wanted a pure bred dog, and took money out of savings to get me one. We drove in a pouring down New Orleans rainstorm to some pet store downtown to buy me a puppy. A $75 puppy. In today's money, that would be... ohhh... $300?

I picked out the sickest puppy in that puppy mill shop. The one that was breathing it's last. I can still remember her holding out a beagle puppy, who had a glossy coat and a sparkle in it's eyes, his little tail wagging, looking just like the Pokey Little Puppy.

No, I wanted the dachshund, who had mats in his hair, mats in his eyes, his tongue was out... he was on his way to the doghouse in the sky. He needed me. He licked my hand, and I was his. Blackie.

Originality wasn't my forte.

I clung to him, crying. I refused to be parted. She pinched me. No, he was mine. The store keeper wasn't stupid. If I'd have backed off even a bit, he'd have lowered the price. As it was, he took the full price, and we walked out, into the rain, my Mother, my dying dog, and me.

To a ticket on her car.

To this day, that's the thing she remembers, that she, "... got a ticket getting that damn dog."

We drove home in the torrential rain, the wooden window up, Mother making blind left hand turns, cursing and smoking. The dog threw up on the floor... and she saw worms.

I was to leave it alone at that point. DO NOT. TOUCH. THE. DOG.

The vet couldn't see it until Monday, and suggested the dog be isolated, fed bread and milk, and not handled very much.

My dad was finishing up the back part of the carport, putting in a room for my MawMaw, who had been sharing a room with me.

Sleeping with my MawMaw had it's advantages. She had the softest skin in the world, and she would let you snuggle up against her if you were good. She smelled divine. However, if you wiggled at night, she pinched you. She was a world class pincher, and could get that little bit of flesh between your butt cheek and your leg, making you wish you'd never moved. She told me that if I thrashed about, and let my arms or legs hang out of the sheets, the things under the bed would get me.

It has only been in the last year I've allowed my feet and hands to hang out from under the sheets.

This woman was good. The CIA should have recruited her.

They put the dog, after a huge fight over the cost and the dogs condition, in the almost completed room, placing a large dark brown piece of heavy plywood that hit us above our waist in the doorway to keep it in, and the GC and I out.

"Don't go near the dog."


The dog whimpers. We edge closer to the plywood.

"Don't go near the DOG!"

Ah huh.

The dog scratches on the plywood. We scoot in.


We dash back to the safety of the kitchen. Quiet fills the air. Our heads peek out. A soft snuffle. A moan. A...whine.

We check, the coast was clear. Mother is in the back, Dad is outside. We made a break for the darkened bedroom, reaching the plywood, leaning down to pet the dog and...

.... we went over with the wood, knocking it onto the dog, killing it.


It yelped, and... died.

Yelped really loud.

Everyone came running. The GC, with his usual ability to save himself, was gone like a ninja before I could say "Wha?"

I was hauled up, paddled by my Mother who kept saying, "I even got a ticket for that damn dog!" then Dad spanked me.

Looking back, I did the dog a favour. It was not in good shape, and was having seizures. Us falling on it put it out of it's misery, I suppose.

I ended up getting a dog down the street, and we named her Greta. She was great, a mixed breed who lived for some time.

Mother never forgave me for killing the pure bred, though. Wasn't the first thing, wasn't the last. Lesson learned? Don't buy a dog at a pet store. And never expect the GC to have your back.


golfwidow said...

There was no way in the world this was going to end well for anyone involved.

Quin said...

ah, well.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God. I'm not sure if I should laugh or what. You make it funny, but, oh my God.

Michael Manning said...

Wow! That was some story!!

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