Samantha, Mann,Whiskey Bean, Fats at the very back and then Ennery[/caption]
I was sitting on the couch watching an English Premier League soccer game with my two little dogs one on each side of me and I got to thinking about all of the dogs that I have had over my lifetime, for a time period spanning more than 50 years. With such deep thoughts as these, quite obviously, the game was not holding my attention.
I never had a dog when I was growing up and I missed out on the first thirty years of my life. It wasn’t until my second marriage when we had moved into our own house in Hailsham, Sussex in England that I first discovered the joys of having a fuzzy four legged friend in the form of Toby, a small Rat terrier. He was a busy little dog and as I was a Pipeline Boss working out in the country, he was able to come to work with me every day. That pipeline was several miles long and we traversed most of it on a daily basis. Toby was a hunter and would think nothing of finding a rabbits nest and eating the babies much to the annoyance of one of the machine operators. We had some pretty heavy discussions about it.
I had at the time, a small Mini Station Waggon and we would all pile into it to go places including Toby who was never left behind. Besides my wife, there were three daughters and a son so the Mini was pretty full up. Toby had this awful habit of letting off wind and many times as I was driving along, there would be screams from the kids as Toby would let one go. Sitting in the back, they were closest to the dog and by the time it reached me, it had dissipated enough that I would laugh it off and continue driving. Everyone else was rapidly winding down the windows.
He had another quirk that he was able to jump over the four feet high fence to the back yard but could not jump back in and would sit outside the fence and bark until someone, usually me, would rescue him and lift him over to our side. We had him a couple of years but unfortunately for Toby, he bit the neighbors little girl in the face one day when she wandered into our front yard and I had to have him put to sleep. A very sad time.
The next dog was a Cocker Spaniel that we named Melody. She really did a good job of selling herself when we were at the Kennel where we purchased her. She kept jumping up as if to say, “Pick me, pick me”. She had these big brown eyes and she was so appealing that she was the one that chose us. She had the distinction of sailing on the Queen Mary as we made the long journey to the USA. She was kenneled on the top deck in a special enclosure along with several other dogs and we would visit her several times a day so she would not be lonely. She made it just fine over that 3000 mile trip. Melody settled in to life in the USA and even adjusted to the heavy snow falls of the New York State winters. I started a construction business and again, like Toby before her, she came everywhere I went and it was not a bit unusual to see her up on the scaffold as we laid bricks on the houses.
A few years after arriving in the States, we acquired another dog, a cross between a Lab and something else. She was a beautiful short haired sandy colored dog with the sweetest personality and we named her Amy. Melody still came to work with me but Amy stayed at home preferring the company of my wife. At the time, we were having marriage problems and I eventually moved out. One of the daughters took Amy and I gave Melody to one of the guys that used to work for me. I was heartbroken to let her go as we had spent so much time together but the circumstances were such that I could not keep her with me and my ex did not want her. I learned that a couple of years later, he had to put her to sleep as she had just gotten old and had health problems. I should mention, an American country boys idea of euthanization is a 12 gauge shotgun. She had to have been at least 15-16 years old. I don’t know what happened to Amy.
A couple of years later, I had remarried for the third and final time. My wife was a dog lover like me. We acquired a cocker spaniel puppy that we named Samantha. At the time we were living in Albany in New York State but a job offer in Texas caused us to move there and of course Samantha also made the trip. We eventually settled just outside of Austin, Texas on five acres of land on which we built a house and a horse barn. By this time, Sam had a litter of puppies of which we sold two and kept three, Fats, who was the biggest, Whiskey Bean and Ennery. They were all females. In the meantime, one of my wifes friends had asked her to look after a male Maltese puppy named Mann, for a bit which eventually turned into a permanent move and our family of dogs was at five. The funniest thing was to see the three cockers all in a line as they went out walking early in the mornings. Fats was always in the lead followed by Whiskey Bean and Ennery trailing at the rear.
We were at the time very active in the soccer community in Austin and Sam would go to all of the games a part of which was the consumption of large quantities of beer following the event. The guys and Samantha both discovered that she had a taste for it and they would surreptitiously give her sips of the stuff until they got her drunk. They thought it funny to see a dog that couldn’t walk a straight line. It didn’t appear to hurt her as she lived to a ripe old age.
After a few years, we sold the five acres and moved into a new house closer to Austin taking our family of dogs and cats with us. We had bought land in Belize and took a trip to see it. One of our soccer playing friends house sat for us. We called our neighbor who was our main contact to check on things only to be told that Mann was dead, a victim of a car on the road outside the property. Apparently, there had been a very bad thunderstorm and the sitter had put the dogs in their pen and had assumed that Mann, who she hadn’t been able to find, was already in his kennel. Turns out, he wasn’t and he was so terrified of the thunder and lightning that he had dug out under the gate. My neighbor found him the next day and buried him. Incidentally, we never did hear from the house sitter ever again. No apologies, no nothing.
I had also come by another Maltese, a gift from a Vet that was looking for a home for him. This Maltese name was Manfried. One day as I was working on my home business, my wife and her friend popped into the office to announce they had a gift for me. She opened her bag for me to peek inside and this bundle of fur in the shape of a miniature Maltese puppy, peeked out. We named her Bianca and she was the tiniest of puppies but really cute and she knew it.
Then one day a year or so later, My wife announced she was leaving and so long and farewell. She took Bianca with her and I was left with the four Cockers and a Maltese. Time moved on as by now I was a single man and my wife was now an ex-wife. After three failed marriages, I decided enough was enough and that I preferred the company of dogs. Twenty six years later and I still hold that to be true.
For Part two – use this link