Beloved Animals Who Have Shared My Life: A Final Sequel

This is a story about another beloved animal, not a sheep this time, or a chicken, but a dog.

Part 1 – Decisions and Acquisition

It’s the summer of 1955. The Gibson family is thriving, enjoying the sunshine and Ralph’s first summer vacation from school. His 8th birthday will come in October. The family discussions turn often to this big day. Ralph has two wishes for his special day: a bicycle and a dog.

“It will have to be one or the other,” says his Dad. “We can’t manage both. It takes work to learn to ride a bike, but it’s fun too.”

“Is a dog work too, Dad?” Ralph asks.

“Yes, son, but a different kind of work. A dog needs good care, lots of exercise, and much love.”

Five-year-old Lorna chimes in, “Get a dog, Ralphie. I love dogs.”

Three-year-old Anne mutters to no one in particular, “Don’t like doggies. They scare me!”

Seven-month-old Mary is the only one who doesn’t give a hoot what his choice is!   

“Sheldon, what if he chooses a bike? I have real problems about the danger to a little boy riding a bike on city streets.”

“I understand that, Marjie, but sooner than we like all his friends will be riding bikes. If we start him now, we’ll be the teachers, instead of them.”

Ralph is a thoughtful kid. This is a very important decision for him. I wonder how long he will mull it over. I soon find out. Ralph comes in for breakfast and says, “I want a dog – a boy dog. When can we get one?”

Excitement is riding high. Knowing that we might be looking for a dog, Sheldon has done some investigation. We all pile into our car and head for an animal shelter on the outskirts of Edmonton. The dedicated people who run the shelter take in these refugees, and work to return them to reasonable health. Then they try to find suitable people to adopt their orphaned guests. We have an appointment to see the dogs who are ready to leave.

The Gibson family troops in and is warmly greeted. We are promptly introduced to a handful of dogs, all of whom are likely candidates to be an eight-year-old boy’s pet. All are in good shape, and friendly. Ralph though, keeps leaving us and going over to a small, sad dog huddled by himself in a corner. The little fellow seems to see Ralph as a friend, and puts out his nose to be petted.

The shelter guide notices his interest. He says, “The dog Ralph seems interested in, is very new here. He has been very badly abused, and is terrified of most people. He could be a wonderful pet, if you can get him to trust you as he does your son. Looking at your family, it strikes me that you might just be what he needs. It’s a gamble. Are you willing to try?”

Ralph is delighted. The rest of us say, “Yes,” (except Anne, who whispers, “Go home, Mommy, don’t like doggies.”)

Papers are signed, advice is offered, and we head for the car. The shelter man carries Rocky (Ralph has already named him). Sheldon, baby Mary, and I are in the front seat, and the other kids in the back. Rocky is handed into Ralph’s outstretched arms. There is a frantic gasp, and Anne manages to scramble over the back of the front seat, and drop down between Sheldon and me. Off we go. One phase of our family life has ended, and a new one is about to begin.

To be continued . . .

Part 2 – 1955 to 1965 – The Changes Time Brings

Part 3 – The End of the Road


Filed under This & That

8 Responses to Beloved Animals Who Have Shared My Life: A Final Sequel

  1. Alison Uhrbach

    Ahhhh! I have such good memories of Rocky! When I was a kid, I couldn’t have animals with fur, because of mom’s asthma, but I loved dogs!! and remember very clearly all the dogs that crossed my path. I finally got my first dog in 1996, and I’ve loved having my own. Molly, our first, was an Australian Shepherd, and died at the age of 13 years. We lasted a month without a dog, and then got Emma. The dog we have now is a “rescue dog” as well, and it’s true, once they trust you, they are the most loyal dogs you can find!

    • Marjorie

      Alison – you didn’t let me down! I was guessing that I would hear from you. The memories of you coming across the alley to play with Anne, and Rocky, are warm and clear. By that time she was a bit older, and loved Rocky like the rest of us. It is interesting to know you have a “rescue dog” too.

  2. Once again, Marjorie, your story brings tears to my eyes. And not just Ralph’s choice in shelter dog — it was your decision to let your young son make his own choice in the matter. I haven’t met any other of your children, but it is no wonder you raised to adulthood such a strong, sane, kind, observant, bright & self-aware (not self-obsessed) Isabel. 😀

    • Marjorie

      Delighted with both, Barbara – your approval of the story, and of Isabel. What more can I say than thank you. Marjorie

  3. Eleanor Jackson

    When I was 12 years old, my Dad brought a little black ball of fur home in his pocket. As I recall, my mother wasn’t too thrilled (one more being to look after. However, we 3 children promised to look after him. We called him Prince. A few weeks later, her name became Princess. And she ultimately was my brother’s dog. He was nine at the time and they became inseparable until Princess finally had to be put to sleep about 14 years later. And, yes I think my mother did most of the caring for and I remember she was writing to me as she waited for the SPCA to come and take Princess to her final resting place. A few tears were shed by her and by me when her letter arrived a few days later. What wonderful memories!

    • Marjorie

      Eleanor – If my stories, even occasionally, stir up memories like yours, I feel they have been successful. Thank you for for sharing, and read the next blog for the wind-up. See you in church.

  4. Brenda Wallace

    Good morning, dear friend,
    Our adventure with pet connections was with Punky, our apricot poodle, son of Maggie, my parents’ poodle. Punky was a delightful little being who eventually went to live with Dave’s sister and family. We enclosed our patio and fenced our yard to provide a safe place for our little friend. Dave was putting the final touches on our four foot high fence when he noticed Punky on the outside of the enclosure. He was sure one of us had been negligent in not keeping Punky inside and safe as he promptly leaped back into the enclosure with his stubby little tail wagging.

    • Marjorie

      Hi Brenda – When someone responds with a memory that has been stirred up by my blog, I count it a success! Good to hear from you.