Beloved Animals Who Have Shared My Life: Final Sequel

Part 2 – 1955 to 1971 – The Changes Time Brings

July 1955 and it is Saturday morning. The porridge is almost ready and the family will soon be down for breakfast. I’ll call Rocky up, his food is already in his dish. How that poor dog can eat.

“Rocky! Come on up. Get your food before the kids get here, and you won’t have to stop eating to be petted.”

I can hear the scrambling on the staircase steps, and here he is. Well that’s a welcome! He comes over to greet me before running to his dish. It is only a week since we brought him home. It is hard to believe how much he has improved in that time. Instead of shrinking back, he will let anyone in the family pet him.  

It is difficult to explain to the little ones, that running up to him makes him afraid. That is hard for them to understand. Ralph is a big help. He shows his little sisters how to walk up to Rocky, and to pat him very gently. Ralph shows them where Rocky has sore spots that they shouldn’t pat. It will take time, but it looks as if we can do it.

July 1960, and we are now in Calgary. Five years have passed since Rocky joined us. How quickly time slips by. There are no more babies in our family. Little Mary is now 5½ and ready to start school. And Rocky? No one knows for sure. We guess he is about 6.

We have all changed, but none more than dear Rocky. He is an active, happy, and loveable dog. Gone is the frightened, lonely beast we took home as a gamble. Sometimes in life things just work out right.

Lest I deceive you, he is not perfect. He is not supposed to sleep with Ralph, so why do I find dog hairs in Ralph’s bed? He is supposed to stay in our large fenced yard. However, let the winds carry the aroma of a bitch in heat, and he finds a way out. Does he return on his own? Yes, in his own time! Then he sleeps for a day or so.

Once, he was away longer than usual, and I began to worry. Then in the morning I saw him about a half block away, sitting there rather mournfully. I called. He wagged his tail – but remained where he was. Finally I ran down, picked him up and carried him home, scolding him all the way. Once in the house he headed for his bed, crawled in, and fell asleep. He was one quiet pooch for several days.

Recently he broke the rules again, departing from his normal behaviour. We are in a newly built house, with a big unfenced back yard. Rocky is either on a leash, or sitting on our front steps surveying the world as people walk by. He has one irritation. A family nearby has two little boys, rather unruly children. The land around is not yet landscaped, so these boys pick up dirt clods and throw them at Rocky as he sits on our steps. Yesterday I caught them at this, and warned them to stop.

Now I hear Rocky barking (a rare thing for him). What is going on? I hurry out to see. There are clods of dirt all around our dog. The boys are picking up more clods as I come through the door. Right at that point, Rocky shoots off the porch. He reaches the nearest boy and quickly nips his rear end. The boy yells and runs for home. Rocky trots back to his seat on the steps. I swear he has a pleased look on his face!

Fortunately for him, the children’s mother knows Rocky. She hears the boys’ story, and says, “And what were you doing to that nice dog, to make him bite you?” Their answers are suspicious, so she comes to see me.

I point out the scattered lumps of dirt, and tell her what has been happening. My neighbour apologizes for her sons, says, “I’ll handle this”, and goes home. Rocky does not have any trouble with those boys now. This is the only time Rocky has hurt anyone.

Time goes by. We enjoy our years in Calgary. Life is full. Sheldon is busy with work, family, travel, and all that goes with these middle years. Right before our eyes the “kids” are growing up. Ralph starts university, the others progress in their schooling. I teach some classes at Mt. Royal College, and am busy in other activities. Lorna is in Grade 12 and will graduate in June. Then, as happens when your husband is a geophysicist with an oil company, we are to move back to Edmonton.

To be continued in Part 3, “The End of the Road.”


Filed under This & That

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

  1. Eleanor Jackson

    Marjorie, I have just one more comment regarding my childhood dog. She was pure black and I’m not sure if it was from the beginning, but I know for many years, Princess slept with my brother. You could look in on them – one head at each end of the bed.When he left home many years later, my mother had to throw out the sheets. Although they had been washed every week, they still looked very grey (if not black).

    • Marjorie

      Eleanor – Can you remember, how long did your childhood dog live? This always interests me as Rocky was with us 17 years. Add at least one more year, and he had a very long life. I will cover the “End of the Road” in the last section.

      • Eleanor Jackson

        I’m not sure, but she was 13 or 14 when she died – a little younger than Rocky.

        • Marjorie

          Eleanor – I’m glad my essay brought back memories of your dear pet. Your present transition period undoubtedly has difficult adjustments, and can use the distraction that happy memories provide.

  2. Jim Taylor

    I’ve been sleeping in a spare bedroom for the last week, because I have had the world’s worst cold. (Until I have the next one, that is.) When I came upstairs to the bedroom Joan and I normally share, I found my place in the double bed taken by our dog. I don’t think it is possible to deter a dog from sharing the bed with whoever he/she feels is his/her Alpha.

    • Marjorie

      You are probably right, Jim. Short of shutting the dog in another room, they are happiest if allowed to be with the one they have bonded most strongly with. As our kids peeled off and left home, I became Rocky’s most important person – but more of that in the (very) final posting!