Dogs have always been my favorite people. I don’t like crowds, and I’ve always had “hermit” tendencies, being quite happy alone with myself, my wife, or my dog. If a friend or stranger approaches while walking their dog, I’ll immediately take a knee and start petting and talking to the dog, which, based upon the wagging of their tails, invariably think I’m the best thing to come along since rawhide chew toys. I prefer talking to dogs because they are better listeners, don’t interrupt, are apolitical, and don’t tell stupid jokes. It’s no coincidence that man’s best friend can’t talk or ask to borrow money.
There have been many dogs in my life, but by far, the best was Cindy, named after my brother’s girlfriend. (Believe me, canine Cindy was much better looking.) She was a black and white German Shorthair who walked on three legs. We lived on one acre of ground on the edge of our small town, and shortly after we got her, Cindy came limping to the house on three legs. Evidently, she got hit by one of Henry Ford’s dog-killing machines. We were fixing to take her to the vet when my mean alcoholic father got home from the bar and said, “Absolutely not. We’re not going to waste good money on a dog.” I said I’d pay for the vet because, at the time, I had a higher net worth than my parents did, but that just threw him into a drunken rage. So I sat under a lemon tree where Cindy had made a nest, put her head in my lap, and cried my eyeballs out. I never forgave my mean old man.
My father also wouldn’t allow Cindy in the house, but he was drunk most of the time and was never wise to my disobedience. In the divvying up of bedrooms, my older and much-preferred brother got the bedroom with a bathroom, my sister got the biggest bedroom in the house with a closet, and I was delegated to the back porch. Really. The porch was tilted downwards on a 7 percent grade to let rainwater flow outside, but it did have one attribute the other bedrooms didn’t have: a door. My parents thought the door was permanently stuck in the closed position, but little did they know that late at night, when everyone was in their rooms, I opened the door just wide enough to let Cindy on the porch where she slept beside me. Since I had to feed my animals early every morning before they started mooing, grunting or cock-a-doodleing, I secretly let Cindy out, and she’d come around to the kitchen door to greet me as if we hadn’t seen each other for years. I think my mom knew, but my dad never did.
Cindy was easy to train, and everyone who came for a visit got a polite handshake from her. Cindy was also the kindest dog I’ve ever known. One of my FFA projects was raising rabbits, and one day I accidentally left the latch to the “feedlot” open, and overnight all 50 of the fryers jumped out. Without prompting, Cindy found every one of them, picked them up in her soft mouth, and brought them to me without a scratch on them.
Like me, Cindy loved all the animals, although I think she agreed with me that chickens could be a real pain in the patoot. She walked behind my steers when I exercised them, could herd sheep, and the only time she ever barked was to let me know that Houdini the Hog had disappeared again. Cindy may not have been the best quail hunting Pointer, but I guarantee she was the best hog dog Pointer ever.
A wise person once said, “We measure our lives by the dogs we’ve owned.” That’s the only drawback with dogs is that their lives are far too short. When our last dog died, my wife said she didn’t want another because it hurt too much to lose them. But I’ve been pushing lately to get another one. The other day my wife casually mentioned that her glasses weren’t strong enough and that perhaps she was going blind. Seeing an opportunity, I asked, “Does this mean we get another dog?”
If so, I’m hoping for one just like Cindy.