Another Day in the Country
Those rescue dogs
© Another Day in the Country
It’s been quite a few years since I’ve had a dog — probably 30. Since we’ve been in Ramona, we’ve only had cats — for very good reasons: One, there’s a constant supply of cats on my corner. And, two, if I had a dog, I’d have to fence in the yard, and that would be expensive. So, no dog.
I’ve had my share of dogs, I suppose, thinking back. The first one came when my parents moved from Garden City to Topeka, and I was in second grade. She was a Chihuahua mix, slick-haired and shaky.
We were living briefly in the attic of an office building. Housing was hard to come by, and this move was for a two-month long evangelistic meeting where my preacher father was assisting the lead evangelist along with a host of other interns with hopes of converting “lost souls” in Topeka.
I think my folks were feeling guilty about uprooting their only child for the fourth time in second grade, so they got this puppy. I was trying to remember her name this morning, but it eluded me. Was it Spot? That seems unoriginal.
The mind, I envision, is like a room full of filing cabinets — probably a drawer for every couple of years, which adds up to a lot of drawers.
I said to the file clerk, “Don’t panic, but could you find out the name of that dog? The first one! Ah, it was probably 1944-’45.”
And I left her to it! I’ll make it up if she doesn’t find it.
A few months later, we moved into the town of Bison, and the Chihuahua got pregnant and had a couple of pups.
Like a miracle, the mother dog and her pups disappeared one day and only one “boy pup” (as my father explained it) remained.
I named him Mickey. He was actually a useful dog. He’d let me dress him up in doll clothes. He followed me everywhere until I was a teenager and went away to boarding school.
After I married, we had a couple of dogs — a silly beagle, a mixed-breed mutt, and then this darling, “papered” Pomeranian puppy. She had a fancy pedigree, and my husband doted on this silly ball of fluff.
About the time my sister got married, Misty the Pom had a couple of puppies of her own, and my sister fell in love with the bigger of the two.
I gave it to her as a wedding gift. Jess named the puppy Cinderella and spoiled that precious puppy rotten.
Cinder, for short, wouldn’t come when called. She’d challenge German shepherds. She chased cars. And then Jess and her new husband went on a two-year tour, singing in a gospel group, and Cinder went to live with my parents on their mini-farm in Oregon.
The only problem was that my mother would not allow dogs in the house — even cute ones, and Cinder, with all her fancy fur, was a house dog.
When we went to visit for Thanksgiving, my girls felt so sorry for Cinder being relegated to the outdoors. She was living with a watchdog that was chained to the barn. Her coat was a mess, and winter was coming on.
“Mom,” they said with mournful eyes, “We can’t leave Cinder here to freeze. We need to ‘rescue’ her.”
And that was our first rescue dog, long before rescuing dogs was politically fashionable.
Shortly thereafter came rescue dog No. 2, when my oldest daughter came home from school with what looked like an old gray scrub mop.
She’d found him wandering on the road. He’d followed her home. We advertised and called the humane society, but no one was missing this dog.
The girls were sure he was valuable — “a Shih Tzu,” they explained, “or something close.”
After getting to know him, I agreed (with an emphasis on the first syllable).
The dog was worthless. He was just about the size of a dust mop, so I called him Rags, and it wasn’t a compliment. My big mistake was naming him. So, now we had two rescue dogs!
Rags adored Cinder the car-chaser. Wherever Cinder was, Rags was there, too.
“He’s disgusting,” my 9-year-old said. “He doesn’t even have a mind of his own.”
Turns out, there was a really good reason for his obsession. Cinder was in heat.
We put the pups up for adoption. Luck would have it, they were the cutest things, and they found a good home.
Enough is enough, I said, and Rags went to the humane society, so he hopefully could be rescued once again. Cinder went to the vet.
We had Cinder for years — long after Jess returned from her singing tour, moved to Oregon, and then, many years later, came back to Northern California to rescue me going through divorce.
It was just another day in the country when Cinder died and Jess and I even cried when we buried that disobedient dog. Jana, watching us, said, “Why are you two crying? I never ever liked that dog!”