We celebrated National Dog Day last week. To be honest, I had never heard of National Dog Day, but I had nothing but great canine memories to celebrate.
First, there were the house rules for dogs in Doc and Sara's house: No dogs — or cats for that matter — were allowed to come in the house for anything longer than a brief visit for feeding on our screened-in back porch. Looking back on those times, I can't recall any family dog getting to come inside the house proper. Dogs were outside critters — period.
The ban on inside dogs didn't mean we didn't have lovable times with a variety of mixed breed canines.
The two most memorable dogs I recall were named Max and Little Prince. Max was one-half German Shepherd and one-half Chow Chow. He had the distinctive mark of the breed — a black tongue. He was somewhat of a rogue ... independent and totally suspicious of strangers. But he was attached to me. We played together endlessly, stopping only for a brief break from bike riding for something to drink and maybe a quick snack.
Max showed his independence by swinging — by himself — on the outdoor swing my dad had built near the big barbeque pit in the backyard. Max would backup about 10 yards, then take off running as fast as he could, jumping in the air, landing in the seat of the swing setting it in motion. He would then wait patiently until the swing had lost all its dog-induced momentum. Then he would jump out of the swing and repeat the process.
Little Prince was compact — probably a Heinz 57 mix with a border collie holding the most of his lineage. He considered every day to be open season for cars driving in front of our house on Live Oak Street. Day after day he would hunker down behind a bush or the front steps until an unsuspecting motorist would come down the street at what Little Prince had determined was a "catchable" speed. He had never succeeded in catching a car ... until one hot summer day. For some reason — known only to the driver — an older woman who I did not recognize.
She slowed her big old three-hole Buick as she approached our house. Little Prince was off in a flash giving it everything he had. And then it happened. The car stopped. L.P. applied his doggie brakes and found himself face to face with the right rear tire of the Buick. What do I do now? He had to think fast or the Buick might speed away.
So L.P. did what every dog in a similar situation would do ... he bit the tire. Even his strong jaws and sharp teeth were no match for the tire.
But he tried again. Same result. He gathered all the strength and determination for one last try. Nothing. Then the car pulled away leaving Little Prince to contemplate his moral victory of at least catching the car.
Meanwhile, Max and I had lots of doggie adventures the summer before I started the sixth grade.
That year, I walked to school each day. And for some reason — known only to him — Max decided it was time to brush up on the subjects taught in Miss Rebecca Campbell's sixth grade class. So, unbeknownst to my parents, Max walked with me to school that day. We climbed the wide, wooden stairs that led to my classroom where Max then curled up in the aisle next to my desk and promptly went to sleep. At morning recess, Max awoke and trotted home from school. Apparently, Max had enjoyed all he could take of sixth grade for one day.
Several days into Max's daily visit to school, a teacher complained to the principal that Max had growled at and nipped at a student in her class. As a result Max was banned from Geneva Elementary for life.
Early the next morning, my Dad caught Max and tied him to the clothesline pole to keep him away from school. Max waited until Daddy left for work, chewed through the rope and joined me — albeit a little late — at school.
Max's escapades at school were complicated when he growled at a small child who was helping his mother rake up leaves in our backyard.
That did it. Max was sent to prison ... not as an inmate ... but as a guard dog. We never heard from Max after the day he was dispatched to work full time guarding inmates in a Florida prison. But I sure did miss having him curled up next to my desk in Miss Campbell's classroom.
I hope you have a good National Dog Day next year.
Stay healthy and we'll whip this Covid-19 for good.