Sunday, September 02, 2012


Over the years,  my family had a number of dogs.

Our first dog had a bit of a temper.  It went into a rage any time visitors came by.  You could see that the paint was bitten off the window frames in the living room as he faced the frustration of not being able to get at the intruders.

Let me first tell this story the way I thought it went and then make the correction that my mother brought up when I related the story many years later.  The dog, named Attacker, liked to bite at my sister's dress.  One day, my sister came to report this problem to my father:  "Attacker bite Nettie!"  My father, deeply absorbed in his newspaper, distractedly replied back "Nettie bite Attacker!"  A moment later, we heard a scream from the other room, and my sister Anette came back spitting hair out of her mouth.

When I related this story, my mother told me that although the Danish name of the dog indeed sounded like Attacker, it actually meant Furball.  But the story would not have been as interesting told that way.

Next, we got two Golden Retrievers--Nuser and Vaks.  Nuser some behavioral problems--I no longer remember the details--and we ended up giving him to one of the ranch hands.  One time, we kept one of Vaks' puppies.  Because of her large spot, we named her the Danish equivalent of Spottie.  Then we got a Swiss Mountain Dog named Carla (minus the brandy flask on the collar).  We brought these three dogs with us when we moved to California in 1978.

Vaks and Spottie enjoyed roaming around.  They would often be gone for twenty-four hours or more.  Our house was up on a hill, below which on the one side was the barn.  Although the dogs liked to run on long trips, they did not feel like walking back up the hill to the house afterward, so they would wait for my mother to drive down to pick them up. My mother sensed Vaks' resentment when she did not come quickly enough.

My mother had promised my youngest sister, Pernille, a poodle after we moved to California.  Unfortunately, the poodle passed away a few days after we got it.  For some reason, Pernille ended up choosing a wire haired Fox Terrier--the dog that Tin Tin had--as the replacement.  Change, however, has never been my strong suit, so I continued to refer to the new dog--Snoopy--as "the poodle."  Other members of the family corrected me for years, but my I persisted.  Finally, one day when I told Snoopy that "You're a bad poodle!" my mother finally relented, saying, "No, she's a good poodle!"

Vaks and Carla eventually passed away while we lived in Paso Robles.  Spottie lasted for a number of additional years.  One year, we exhibited the horses at the California State Fair and had a booth.  Spottie had just had puppies, and we brought them all along.  A little girl walked by our booth and was overtaken with disgust.  "Eew!  Those a pigs!  I bet they smell!" she cried out with indignation.

One night, my mother had a dream that we acquired a new "poodle" or Fox Terrier. I got to name her and chose the name Profit.  Several years later, some missionaries came by.  Profit ran out when Pernille opened the door.  "That's a beautiful name!" exclaimed the missionaries as Pernille called her back.  Pernille did not have the heart to tell them about the spelling of the name.

As she grew older, Spottie spent most of the day sleeping.  My mother said that she was not looking forward to having to call me when she passed away.  She actually got out of that obligation as she was just about to leave on a trip as it happened and delegated the task.

As the other dogs passed away, Profit became the lone surviving dog.  When my mother was eating, Profit would approach.  She was so confident that my mother would slip her a treat that she started wagging her tail before my mother delivered.

Profit was rather energetic.  Unfortunately, she tried to jump out of a car with an open window and, being on a leash, ended up strangling herself.

My mother then acquired a Welsh Corgi.  We named him buck.  My mother said that she had deliberately chosen the humblest member of the litter, but he was the humblest only by default.  He never realized that my mother was the one who fed him and that he had probably better stay on her good side.  It turned out that my mother never cut his food rations no matter his non-compliance, so he may have gotten the last laugh.

A corgi is supposed to have a life expectancy of some ten years.  About five years ago, my mother started to prepare me that Buck might not be with us much longer, but I saw no sign of decline and expressed my doubts.  Eventually, he started to cut down his activity level significantly, but he lasted until age fifteen.