A Life Measured in Canines – Garden & Gun

My father was a serious dog lover. After World War I, when he was discharged from the army, he bought some of his surplus German Shepherds, trained them to obey orders in English, and resold them. Business was going well until his 1920s when Rin Tin Tin’s immense fame as one of the world’s first canine movie stars made the breed the most popular dog breed in America.

In the 1930s he acquired, bought, trained, hunted and sold birddog bugs, competing in field trials with dozens of British pointers and setters. Among the few tangible items left when he died at his 90th year were a box containing a pedigree, a prize ribbon, and a sepia-toned photograph of a dog at a point in the field. His two favorites of his were Jake, the Patrician his pointer, and Kate, the mediocre little setter. Jake really flirts he’s Jacob, a descendant of his National champion Seaview Rex (and Coca-Cola mogul Robert he bought from Woodruff) and he’s South his Georgia Crossroads his Country his Bought Kate out of the box on his porch at the front of the store. (Just by coincidence, my oldest son’s name is Jake and my wife is Kate.)

My mother was more ambivalent about dogs. My dad used to have 35 of his dogs at one time in enclosures behind the house, but now he rents out where Interstate 85 in Atlanta crosses Piedmont Road. In a small field, my father had a little fox named Toy and his terrier. Lived in the house, rode in the car with us (as opposed to a trunk or trailer with holes in it for ventilation), and was a staunch companion to her. As usual, he ate canned Ken-L Ration. The other men, Twelve Oaks, at the corner of Cheshire Bridge and Piedmont, at the back door of his house, Purina Dog, her chow and her fifty-five gallon of steak, which my father picked up on Saturday night. I was eating it with a combination of scraps.

My first encounter with death was when a squeaky old toy limped out of the mailbox with my mom and me and fell at her feet. She burst into tears and she was inconsolable for days.

Then came Sammy. An all-black Cocker Spaniel, he arrived one Christmas Eve when my grown sister showed up for dinner and without warning wore a red bow and presented him to her teenage sister. I now realize that her mother clenched her teeth, bit her tongue, and cursed the darkness in this unexpected holiday windfall. One clue was that, unlike Toy, she was banished to a kennel that her father ordered to build in her backyard.

Sammy was more than just a good dog for me at 9 years old. he was the perfect dog. Here are some of the things he excels at. (He barked at everything, including fallen leaves.) A hunter-gatherer. (He regularly brought home box turtles, possums, and dead squirrels.) Retriever. (He could find the errant baseball no matter how thick the kudzu or brush pile. Getting it back from him was another matter.) Escape Artist. It was.) Mysterious dog. (He returned twice from his paint-covered wanderings, once in blue and once in red.) Gourmet. (He loved tomatoes and watermelons off the vine.)

One day Sammy didn’t come home. Days and weeks passed. In the end we put his things away and settled into a dog-free life. A few months later the phone rang and I answered. It was the woman who ran the hair salon at the Regenstein department store in Buckhead, and she called that an emaciated, flea-covered cocker had fallen into the salon wearing our numbered collar. I came. He drank a bowl of water and just lay there.

To my surprise, my mother jumped in the car and drove to the Regenstein house a few blocks away. No padding remained on his legs and milky eyes, and he could hardly stand. She took him to the veterinarian’s office and pleaded with him to save him. His long travels, wherever he went, took him where he’d always wanted to be.He now lived in that house.

Sammy never ran away again. From then on he and my mother remained inseparable until his death.

When I was a freshman at UGA, the guy who ran the dormitory came to my room in Millage Hall one night and said my mom was on the phone and needed to talk to me. In an era before dorm rooms with cell phones and phones, before email and social media, I went to college and never heard from my family. They contacted you when you needed something ($$$) but the angel of death was summoned on the phone from home.

Sure enough, my mother was holding back tears as she spoke. “I wanted you to know that I had to put him down today because Sammy was suffering from cancer. I know he was supposed to be your sister, but he really was yours.” I’m sure the news at least brought tears to my eyes, but I’m a college student and had a lot of other things on my mind.

Besides, I think it’s the dog that decides whose dog it is. Ever since Sammy arrived that Christmas Eve, his mother has hated him. She called him a demon dog. She let him go once, but he was soon returned. Something about getting out of hand.

Maybe so, but he was persistent. After all, Sammy was his mother’s dog, and everyone knew it except his mother.

My father, on the other hand, somehow switched to cats in his old age after being with dogs all his life. stray cat, so No one saw this coming. We weren’t cat people.

But one day my father showed up with a stray cat he met, gave it a silly cliché name like Fluffy or Whiskers, offered him a bowl of milk, sat on his lap and watched it for the rest of his life. rebroadcast of spent time gun smoke, Perry MasonWhen Bonanza.

I’ve had a variety of colorful, malicious, useless but charming dogs to stay straight and narrow. For example, there was a man who ran away with his son during a thunderstorm. The son came home that night and later held an important position in the Good Dogs Hall of Fame. When my wife found out about this, we put the question of whether to repatriate the prodigal dog to an anonymous family vote. As she listens to “Galileo,” she imagines her dying peacefully on her pillow in front of a crackling fire.

I’m sure as I get older I can spend more time with my dog. My wife and sons are all avid dog lovers and as I type this, a dog named Gumbo is lying at my feet. At least I think it’s a dog. One of those designer dogs, one called Mini Nerdoodle. Everything was raised from him except being a pet. I call him Pixar because his markings are so cute and he looks so animated.

Despite my condescension, I don’t mind if over time he separates from my wife and secretly becomes my dog. It can be a little embarrassing when you’re around a friend who has a dog or a French Bird Dog whose name you can never remember. But it’s much better than living with a cat.

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