A boy and his dog

Published 4:44 pm Friday, September 18, 2009

When I was 7, or 8, or 9, or whatever age a boy needs the companionship of a pet, I met a scraggly little golden brown dog whose name eludes me. He was a stray that liked to hang out at my bus stop every morning, probably in the hopes of getting some sucker to feed him something from his lunch box.

Naturally, I took the bait and the little guy took to me like you wouldn’t believe.

I don’t know how he knew, as I have never seen a canine wear a watch, but he would be waiting for me when I got home at that very same bus stop. My mother noticed the pattern of me and my new partner in crime and decided to let me keep him, a notion that I’m sure she regrets, even after her passing.

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We were inseparable. I’m not sure if every human has his or her animal counterpart, but I’m sure I found mine. Imagine two creatures on this Earth with little Buddha bellies and equal affinities for fried bologna and having their belly rubbed and you’ve got me and that dog.

It got to the point where he wouldn’t listen to anyone but me, which my mother hated. He slept right outside my door and barked viciously at my two older brothers, which they hated. And he absolutely terrified my baby sister, which she hated. (I said we were exactly alike, didn’t I?)

At the height of our play-all-day, fried-bologna-bliss, my mother noticed, as mothers tend to do, an increase in the amount of sneezing and coughing I was doing. Not to mention red, watery eyes.

She started to think maybe all my sneezing had something to do with my dog. So, I was taken to the doctor and given that trusty old allergy test. Lo and behold, I did, indeed, have an allergy to my beloved pooch.

Once it was explained to me that either that golden-brown marvel had to go or I would suffer the agony of my eyes and throat swelling shut forever, a fate I truly considered in lieu of losing my buddy, I eventually had to let him go.

My mother found him a nice home with a farmer who desperately needed a dog to help him with farm stuff. The day I had to give him up was the worst. I watched him hop into the back of the farmer’s truck and turn to look at me in that Old Yeller way that awesome dogs have.

Though I’ve never been the kind of person to cry over much except every time they take the McRib off the menu at McDonald’s, I felt a few tears roll down my cheeks. He rode away with the farmer, and I never saw him again.

Is there a point to my little story? Not really. I just wanted you dog lovers to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy the Mutt Strut this weekend. Have a blast!