“The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind”

The day is brighter than the last few and the sun is just biding its time behind a cloud. It’s expected a bit later. It’s a long sleeve day which I found out when I investigated Gracie’s intruder bark. She was standing on the rail by the deck stairs, and the hair on her back was raised from her neck to her tail, never a good sign. I looked but saw nothing. It must have been the rabbit which just stands and stares at the dog. While Gracie was standing on the rail, I noticed the border along the side of the rail is in pieces held together by only a single wire; the bamboo has seen its last. I got her inside before she leapt that rail. This time she’d have hurt herself as the rail borders the holly bush. I put wire across the spot for the meantime as I do have a woven screen I bought yesterday. While I was attaching the wire, I noticed a spot near the driveway where she’s started digging under the fence. I put a board across it. Gracie is an escape artist, and when she’s on the run, she’s quick and won’t come to me. Neighbors come out, and she goes right to them. My yard is huge but obviously Gracie prefers the wider world.

When I was a kid, there were no leash laws. Dogs roamed. I never saw one hit by a car as the dogs were wary on the streets and car smart, and I think the cars were slower on local roads back then. Duke, our boxer, was quite the traveler. He’d follow us to school or follow the neighbors to their school. My father would yell for him, Duke would turn around to acknowledge he’d heard my father, then he’d keep going. My father got so angry he’d jump in the car to get the dog. My mother had a differentΒ  strategy. She’d hold out a piece of bologna and call Duke. He’d come and eat the bologna leaving a small piece in my mother’s hand then he’d run on his way. Duke and his son Sam were notorious for prowling the neighborhoods. Sam was my aunt’s dog, the aunt who gave us Duke, and he lived three or four blocks away. The two would meet up and travel together. They looked fierce but Sam was the gentlest of dogs. Duke was stubborn and protective. They scared people.

We moved to the cape and their days of roaming together were over. I swear the entire town let out a sigh of relief.

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20 Comments on ““The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind””

  1. Nan Says:

    I do think people drove slower, and with more attention. I get the feeling that now the thought is that driving is boring so the driver (check one or all) eats, texts, talks on the phone, listens to a book. I don’t remember that degree of distraction when it was a cigarette being smoked, do you? :<)
    Those roaming fellows used to add to their family trees as they made their stops. When you write about your dogs, it honestly feels as far back as the time before cars. Was it really so simple and quiet and I remember?

    • katry Says:

      I really do believe it was that simple back then. It was generally far quieter without leaf blowers, lawn mowers, mototcycles and all the outside electrical tools which whine and make so much noise. To drive, you needed one hand free to change gears. There were very few buttons or dials, am radio only, so driving has far fewer distractions like the ones you mention.

      Duke was definitely a lothario. He was a registered pedigree so he was put out to stud a few times. You could choose money or a dog so Sam was the result of one of Duke’s planned liasons; her name was Heidi von something. Boxers back then were registered with mostly German names. My Dad chose Duke of Erin VIII which he thought would put the AKC in a tailspin.

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    We had a dog named Duke as well. He was a spitz-type mixed with something else. Until I was about 3 years old I thought he was my mother because he was the one who was always there wherever I wandered on the street. It was different then. Toddlers and dogs could roam the neighborhood because someone’s mother would see all and yell at you. Anyway, Duke never left the street unless my father told him to come find one of us. If Duke showed up, we knew we were wanted. We didn’t always go, of course, and Duke would forget why he was there.
    Duke was afraid of loud noises and thunder storms. Anytime one came up he would run into the house and hide under the kitchen table. One time my bike tire had a huge bubble in it so I went to tell my father. Just as he came to the porch door the tire blew. Duke went flying into the house, right between my father’s legs, followed closely by my youngest brother.

    May I recommend The Hidden Life of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. Her dog was a wanderer in Cambridge MA. She was not successful in stopping him so she decided to follow him and make a study of it. She writes some things that many have disagreed with but overall it was a fascinating study.

    Sunny up here today with a tiny breeze. Enjoy your day.

    • Nan Says:

      Caryn, now he could have had a Thundershirt. :<)

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Smart dog knowing to hunt for you (forgetting doesn’t count!).

      Shauna, an earlier boxer of mine, was also afraid of thunder. If we were in bed, she would shake so much the whole bed shook, and hugs weren’t any good to calm her. Maggie, also a boxer, was afraid of loud noises. When she was a puppy, she got tangled in a light cord and ran with the light dragging behind and hitting her.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      Now it’s really lovely here-sunny and 66Β°

  3. Hedley Says:

    My sisters and I were discussing last week “Perry” our grandparents dog. (Last name, Mason)
    Anyway Perry would roam freely and somehow would make the mile and a half journey through Ashtead village to our house. We have no idea how he developed the route as my Grandparents had never walked him. He merrily crossed roads, engaged in activities (ok he was accused of siring a litter and from that litter we got Andy) and somehow made it to our house.
    Perry was to lose his sight in later years but would sporadically show up on our door step.
    On one famous occasion, a neighbor of my Grandparents awoke to find an extra dog on her bed. It seems Perry had entered the house through the cat door and made himself at home with the other two dogs.

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I love your Perry story about the bed and cat door.

      Dogs seem to have built in maps and compasses in their heads. When we went on vacation, Duke stayed with my grandparents who weren’t too happy about it, not being dog people, and almost every day he wandered away back to where we lived which made them even more unhappy. He had never been walked to my grandparents’ house which was across town. He’d only gone in the car.

      • Hedley Says:

        My sisters and I just had a lengthy debate on how on earth Perry did it or even why.We have an Uncle who lived in the opposite direction but he was never blessed with Perry’s visits.
        When it came to “nocturnal” activities he obviously was a bit of a “Jack the Lad” and enjoyed the opportunities presented to him

  4. Bob Says:

    We have had two retired racing Greyhounds who could never be outside without a leash or inside a fenced area. They can run up to 45 miles per hour chasing a cat, a squirrel or a rabbit. They are born with a chasing instinct that doesn’t include looking both ways before crossing the street nor do they come equipped with a GPS to help them find their way home. Otherwise, they are the world’s biggest couch potatoes.

    Our Lab mix however gave me the run around when we first adopted her 12 or 13 years ago since the exact date has faded in my memory. I brought her to the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to have her spayed. When she found the opportunity to escape from the open car door, with her leash attached, she ran into the tall grass surrounding the building and refused to come back. I called her name and gave chase. How could I explain to my kids that I lost their dog only days after she was adopted? Luckily, she got bored of me chasing her and I was able to grab ahold of her leash and lead her into the building. For the rest of her life, she and I had this adversarial relationship. She disobeyed me out of spite.

    Leash laws really don’t work because people believe that their dogs are really just furry, four legged people. They walk them off lead in the park or the neighborhood and allow them to defecate anywhere they please. I want to be reincarnated as a small, cute dog owned by a widowed grandma. Could anything be better than a leisurely life of eating home cooked food and cuddling on a soft lap for twelve hours every day.

    The weather hasn’t changed except for strong southwesterly winds which have started the wild fire season earlier than last year.

    • katry Says:

      My neighbors had greyhounds and they hated to move into the backyard, preferred their beds. They were walked every day and my neighbors used harnesses to keep them in check. Gracie must have a bit of greyhound in her as she runs like the wind and a rabbit drives her crazy.

      I think dogs want to be the alpha animals in the house. Gracie always talks back to me, but she does what I tell her mumbling to herself all the time. She would prefer to disobey or ignore me.

      I seldom see dogs off leash except in the dog parks where they are allowed off leash. My other boxers stayed with me when off leash, but I wouldn’t dare to let Gracie be free.

      My father always said he wanted to be reincarnated as a pet in any of our houses.

      67Β° today.

  5. olof1 Says:

    Luckily everyone here knows that Orvar tends to take a walk every now and again πŸ™‚ So most drive slowly this last bit of the road. His grandmother was just the same but she walked longer distances πŸ™‚

    Thankfully all my dogs comes when I call for them, but not always straight to me πŸ™‚ Orvar believes that if he comes back from another direction I won’t think he was away at all πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    The fun thing iis that if Nova sees a hare outside the garden she stays at home, but if she sees it when we’re out walking she’ll be gone within a second πŸ™‚

    Sunny and warm with no winds to help here today, a bit too hot but I won’t complain this can be the summer we’re getting this year πŸ™‚

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      Years ago my friends had a dog named Katie who was a known wanderer. Most times one of us would see her, open the car door and she’d jump in for the ride home.

      Gracie doesn’t come but seems to run faster in the opposite direction!

      Gracie would love to keep Nova company when she chases a rabbit!

      I think today was a lovely day here.

  6. Zoey & Me Says:

    Life was so much different back then. Even cats roamed the neighborhood but came indoors at night. Dogs were everywhere and if one got hurt we knew who the owners were. Cats stuck in trees drew crowds and it turned into a block party of sorts waiting for the fire department. Life was also slower than today. We kids played in the street, backyards, the woods, and it was like living in nature. Today even my Grand kids park their butts on the couch when home from school. TV dominates until someone puts them at the home study desk. We had to always do our homework first, after a cookie or treat, while the work was still fresh on our minds. I think I am pleased with the time period we grew up in as I doubt I would adapt well in this techno world.

    • katry Says:

      If you grew up in this techno world, you be into all the same things kids are today. Ours was a leisurely time, but I remember how excited I was to get my first portable radio then my first transistor. We were already moving into a different world and we all took it in stride.

      I am glad for when I grew up and we could roam all over and sleep in the yard at night in the hot summer. Life was so innocent back then.

  7. Hedley Says:

    Kat – Roll your DVR
    “Under Africa Skies”, the documentary of Paul Simon’s Graceland is being shown on A&E tomorrow night at 10 pm EST.

    This is part of the “Super Duper Deluxe” Box set of Paulie’s 25th anniversary reissue of the Graceland album…yours to enjoy thanks to our chums at A&E

  8. Bill S. Says:

    When the kids were young I came home with two puppies, Dusty, half-Afghan and half-husky, and Boomer, half-husky and half-beagle–same mother, different fathers. Boomer was named after the ill-fated Boomer of Bolga, who ran off one day and probably ended up as puppy dog stew. Dusty and Boomer both loved to be outside in winter, and sometimes would run through the woods to their (girl?) friend’s house by the pond. Peg would stay up waiting for them, but I knew they’d be back and I would go to bed. Boomer eventually was hit by a car while we were on vacation in Florida and our neighbor was “responsible” for him. Dusty died from cancer after another few years. Our next dog was Cleo (Cleopatra), a beagle mix, from a litter that some kids had found in the woods. No one knows if the litter had been dropped there by humans, or the mother dog had been hit by a car, or what. Anyway, she was the best dog we ever had, until cancer took her too. Losing her was so sad that I don’t think I could go thru that again. So now we are dogless. Our kids don’t have dogs, but they both have cats.

    If we ever have another dog, I would name her “Stella”, so I could do the Brando thing when I call her.

    • katry Says:

      You dragged my emotions all over the place but gave me a great laugh at the end!

      Boomer was a handsome dog, and I bet he was snatched and his fate was just as you described. The dogs I saw last summer all looked the same: smally, skinny, brown and with long tails. I swear they all had the same parents.

      Boxers do not live long lives and both Shauna and Maggie died at 8. The timing couldn’t have been worse with both of them. I had major surgery and Shauna died of cancer a week later, a week before her 8th birthday. I waited a few months then decided I needed a dog, and it had to be a boxer. I got Maggie. My mother passed away in October and Maggie died of cardiomyopathy in January, a month after her 8th birthday. Both illnesses occur often in boxers. I was devasted both times but more so with Maggie because of my mother’s death. I felt as if I had been knocked to my knees twice.

      Gracie too is a boxer and will be seven in November.

  9. Beto Ochoa Says:

    I’ve had a dog, or two since I was old enough to care for one.
    Losing them was always tough.
    I lost my Lab to cancer at Christmas time but now have a Shepard mix that is so loving and playful. It’s what I look forward to at the end of every work day.
    Well, you know me and my poems

    The joy explodes from off the couch
    My bitter day assuaged
    Though I am torn with worldly pain
    My puppy’s heart is gay
    And like the Savior of our souls
    Wicks off the mantle coarse
    My dog loves me as He who came
    With all its heart and force
    But as the passing days wheel on
    And to the earth returned
    The collar and the bowl remain
    And lesson hard is learned
    It’s for ourselves alone we mourn
    For we are left behind
    Until the ones that left us here
    Return in Glorious kind

    • katry Says:

      That poem brought tears to my eyes-no kidding! It was heartfelt and reminded me of all the dogs I’ve loved.

      My last two boxers both died when they were 8. That breed doesn’t live long. Gracie will be seven in November, and I worry.

      Thank you for the beautiful poem-I think it is my favorite.

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