Listen to the Recess! Clip
|Author||Shelley Fraser Mickle|
Here’s Shelley Fraser Mickle, remembering for us.
This is National Dog Week, which means we ought to look around and thank every dog we see for being a dog. Because what’s so wonderful about these animals is that sooner or later every child wants one, since instinctively we all know that no matter where we go in life or what we do, our dog will love us – totally, unconditionally, and even if we’re vegetarians and he doesn’t like what we feed him under the table.
Now, everybody knows that a dog is a carnivorous mammal related to foxes and wolves, and that they come in a variety of breeds. But dogs are more to us than animals. They have pervaded our culture and language. For instance, just think of all the different things that come to mind when I say, “you won, you lucky dog,” or “you stole my lunch, you dog,” or “my dogs are killing me.” And then of course there’s the lap dog, and sled dog, bird dog, guide dog, and who could live without knowing at least one shaggy dog story. Soldiers even wear dog tags. And more than once I’ve been told that the story I have just written is a dog.
But in childhood, a dog is more than likely the first real live thing we can call our own. I know that when I was eleven, more than anything, I wanted a dog to follow me around, to think that I was the big cheese and the next best thing to a hambone. But my parents bought m instead an old dog who didn’t have to be housebroken or walked. In fact, he didn’t care about going anywhere. He was a good bit deaf and half blind, which helped to make him easy to care for. Furthermore he didn’t chew on any of our furniture since he only had two teeth.
That summer I had spent my year’s allowance on a retired work horse. And every day I rode her for miles. One day on the outskirts of town I came upon a stray dog. It was young, reddish blonde with a stick-like tail and short hair. I called him Shane. Whenever I whistled, he followed. I rode way out into the country where Shane chased frogs into the ditches and ran after rabbits. But as dusk, when I turned my mare towards home, Shane was too pooped to keep up. He lay down in the dirt and panted with his tongue hanging down to his knees. Finally, I got off my horse and lifted him up.
That’s the way I arrived home, with Shane straddling the saddle, leaning back on me while his tongue trailed down to where my hands held the reins. No, a better dog I never had. And yes, for the few months that he stayed with me, Shane lived up to his name. He was the best cowboy dog anybody ever saw.