“Never trust a boxer to watch your food.”

When I woke up this morning, the day looked the same as the two days. It had been raining. Everything is newly wet. The grey covering the sky looks entrenched. The wind is sometimes heavy. I’ll be home today. My energy has returned so I’ll finish putting away the Christmas stuff from the living room, the only place left with any, and put the tree, covered by a bag, outside to wait for its dump trip. I brought laundry down here, not all of it but enough to make room in the basket. I’ll intersperse doing the laundry with bringing bins up and down stairs. I hope this burst of energy lingers all day. Tomorrow will be dump day, and if I’m successful today, my only chore.

When I was a kid, we had a boxer, Duke. He was a bridle. Because he was the runt of his litter, he wasn’t very tall, but he was strong and muscular, and he was stubborn. Boxers are known to be stubborn, and Duke epitomized the description. He used to drive my father crazy. There were no leash laws back then so dogs could just take off, and Duke did. My father would yell. Duke would stop, look at him then take off again. My father would yell louder than would jump into his car and chase Duke if he was headed to the East School, where Duke was an unwanted guest, an official unwanted guest. Most times my father caught Duke.

If Duke followed us, we’d stop, turn around and tell him to sit. He’d sit. We’d tell him to stay. He’d pretend to stay. We’d start walking again, and in a bit, we’d turn around to see Duke no further back than we’d left him. Smart boy! He only moved when we were walking and stopped when we turned around.

My school was mostly tolerant so my father never chased Duke when he was following us, but after a few too many visits, the nuns had different reactions to him being in the schoolyard with us. When I was in the third grade, he just slept on a mat under the clock in my classroom in the garage under the rectory. I remember the wall with the clock was a bumpy white plaster wall. When I was in the seventh and eight grades, the nuns’ responses changed; instead, because I was the oldest of my siblings, I got the directive to walk Duke home when the nuns wanted him gone. It was wonderful. I left school, walked Duke home, had a bit of a snack and walked back to school, all sanctioned by the nuns. I dearly loved that dog and our walks together, but even his trips to my school had to end. The poor boy watched us through the storm door, imprisoned by my father. I know it is because of Duke I always have boxers.

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