You can take it away, as far as I’m concerned—I’d rather spend the afternoon with a nice dog. I’m not kidding. Dogs have what a lot of poems lack: excitements and responses, a sense of play the ability to impart warmth, elation . . . .
Tomorrow is National Dog Day. We humans like special days, don’t we? I guess it’s about the warm fuzzy feelings they evoke in the memories of happy times. This one occurred when I was eleven.
My Father spent some years as a salesman. He had a sales area which because of its size meant that he was gone for days at a time. Returning home from one of these trips he arrived at the back door carrying a large cardboard box. Setting it on the threshold he hunkered down, unmindful of his good suit and as we children gathered around he proceeded to open the box. What to our wondering eyes did appear but the cutest, most adorable little black, red tongued puppy we thought we had ever seen.
He was so energetic, trying to kiss everybody’s faces as we passed him around. Then he peed on Mom. I remember Dad setting him on the stoop and as we all entered the house Rex (that was his new name) had to be helped over the threshold as he was too fat to wiggle over it. We all laughed.
Rex , Dad explained was a Black Labrador Retriever. He grew and grew in physical size and love, big sloppy love was his specialty. He mostly stayed outdoors as he was added to the family because Dad was away a lot. Guard dog was his primary role,but occasionally on cold winter days he was ushered into the back pantry with a special blanket and snacks. Oh the love then lol.
He turned out to be a kind, patient companion alert to rabbits and squirrels along the path to the gardens. He was the first to flush out the porcupine with her babies, much to his chagrin. He never missed an opportunity to chase a stick. He seemed to sense when we were feeling blue and would sit close letting us pat his head, almost like he was offering a prescription for what ailed us.
If he had any flaw we never found it. That is until some years later we moved to a new home near a rural highway . It seemed that he had found the one thing that caused him some excitement in his quiet country life. Added a little spice he may have said in human words. He liked to chase the pea truck.
In the early autumn the peas are harvested in the Annapolis Valley. With it begins the steady procession of overloaded trucks taking the peas (with vines still attached) to the canning factory close by.
Rex just couldn’t seem to help himself. No amount of reproof made him change his ways. Every time he heard a pea truck rumble down that road he was sprinting along beside it barking, snarling, grabbing the occasional pea vine that fell off in the breeze in his teeth, shaking it back and forth as if he had captured the flag of sorts. The truck would soon disappear out of sight, then Rex’s demeanour would relax and he would saunter back to the step as if nothing had happened. Yawn.
Sadly, that is how Rex met his demise. I wasn’t there when it happened thankfully but that darn old pea truck obscured the view of another driver passing and didn’t see Rex as he crested the hill. One thump and he lay mortally wounded in a heap on the road. The commotion that followed , children crying, strangers apologizing, and the horror of the suffering friend I could only imagine as the story was relayed to me later. Gathering around, my siblings recounted those precious minutes where hope died. It was quickly apparent that the vet wasn’t an option. Fortunately a neighbor pulled up with a hunting rifle just then and Dad put our friend to rest.
it is said that “One bad trait can ruin a whole person”. I guess that can apply to dogs too.
Rex was buried deep in the woods among the old Apple trees the area is famous for. I have never visited. My brother mourned there. Boys and their dogs are another story.
RIP Rex. I’m glad we have a day to celebrate you.❤️
Photo credit: Dirk Vonderstrabe