A fellow came by who we knew slightly and said he had no where to keep his dog. He had to find a place today. He was discouraged. Richard’s brother had said we might take him. I asked what kind of dog he was and he said he was a Wallheimer or large sized German Shepherd. He said he was trained. He was four years old. I said to bring him over and let me see him.
In a couple of hours he was that the back gate with the dog. He looked big. As I opened the gate I said to let him run. He went directly to the back under the big trees there. He went all over. I was pleased he liked the yard. I sat in a chair and waited for him to come to me. I didn’t call him. He whizzed by the chair a couple of times to the water pan and then back again. Finally he came over to me and smelled my hand. We were friends. His name was Bullet but we didn’t call him that. He didn’t answer to his name but when I clapped my hands he came. I said I’d keep him. I was glad he liked the yard. His owner said he had been on a chain but he never acted like that. He was a very normal dog. Mike said he would get his things. Before he left however he and Richard fixed the fence. He said he was a jumper.
Although most of the fence was 5 and 6 feet high, it was only 4 feet along the drive from the house to the shop. It was about ready to fall down because our Great Dane broke the 4’x4’ posts several times. There were still broken. However they dug new holes and put in 6 foot 2x4’s temporarily. Then they wove boards back and forth between them till it was 5 or 6 feet high. He still gout out. There was a stack of wood on one side helping to hold the fence up and he stood on it and jumped. However that was the next day.
After the fence was fixed Mike went to bring his things. He had a grooming brush, part of a big sack of dog food and a huge dog bowl that looked like a tire. It represented his opinion of his dog – the biggest and the best. He also had a studded collar. His dog was very big in his eyes. Mike was big too. He loved the dog very much. By evening we had a dog and Mike left.
It was the very next day he got out. Richard grabbed his jacket and the leash and went out in the car to find him. After about half an hour he came back. No luck. He called the number Mike gave him. I went out in the back to open the gate in case he came back, and sure enough there he was. He came in and went to Richard while he was still on the phone. We were happy he came. The girl couldn’t believe he came back. He covers some territory she said. They have our number at the Humane Society and call whenever he shows up. Mike had rescued him once from the pound too.
When Mike came that afternoon, he carried a lot of wood to the shop and I stacked. We lowered the wood along the fence by about 1 ½ feet so he couldn’t jump from it. However he had his mind on it. He got out twice more and I just held the gate open with a piece of wood and he came back in less that 10 minutes. I said I wasn’t going to worry about it. They couldn’t believe he came back. The next time he opened the gate like people. He jiggled the catch off and then opened it with his paw. I said he was an escape artist. Again he came back in 10 minutes. He was losing the desire to get away. He liked it here. I put a piece of metal thru the hole in the catch and so far he hasn’t gotten out again. It was leaving his mind. He liked being with us and the yard.
I always gave him a snack when he returned.
Stuck in the Blackberry Bushes
The following night he got stuck in the blackberry thicket behind the shop. It was almost dark. Richard beat down the buses with a shovel until he got him. He still would hardly come. He had chased a kitten in there. I couldn’t see him in the bushes and he was quiet. Somehow it was funny. I thought he had learned his lesson but no, he got rather stuck in a few bushes on the other side of the yard the next day. He whined. I parted the bushes and he walked out. So far he hasn’t gotten stuck again.
When the Dog House Came
It was in the afternoon. Richard was all dressed up ready to go to an appointment. He had his hand on the gate when suddenly his face fell. He’s bringing the dog house, he said. He put the dog in the stairwell and set the gate open and got a dolly. The dog house was very heavy. They pulled and pushed and finally got it thru the gate. The gate didn’t work after that. They got it a little bit farther by the house under a small maple for shade. He had blocks to go under it too. It was strong and well made. I asked Richard later how much it weighted and he said about 300 pounds. Like everything else it was enormously heavy. His god was the biggest and the best. It was summer and the dog didn’t get in the house till the third day when Mike told him to. If it’s pouring rain or very cold I suppose he will.
The Tea Bag
The next night we had liver for dinner. I cut up some for him on the counter. I noticed he left one piece in his bowl. I thought it was odd but left it in case he would eat it later. Later on, I looked at it and it was a tea bag. When I scooped his food off the counter it had gotten mixed up with it.
Miscellaneous - - first 3 weeks
The first time he came back, Richard noticed later a new hole in the screen door in front. He had come to the front door like people. He didn’t bark till the 4th day he was here. We thought he had been debarked. They said he hadn’t and that he barked. Sure enough he started barking. It seemed a lot better. He didn’t wag his tail for almost a week.
He opened Richard’s side door to his shop, too. It had a half door which hooded and then a heavy door which wasn’t locked. He jiggled the hook loose and then pushed the big door. Richard often left them open anyway so he could come in and out. He watched him paint and sniffed everything and sometimes went to sleep on the rug. He loved to go in the shop. He followed Richard around.
Sometimes Richard called him Fellow. He was lying down a ways near the shop and Richard was talking to a friend on the phone. He said, Hey Fellow, and the dog got up and when to the phone.
Instead of saying Shake, Richard said, Gimme 5. The dog would raise his paw and shake. Sometimes they had a high 5. At first he usually got out at night. Richard said he wanted to hit the road. Later he got out anytime. One morning he had been out and come back 3 times by 9 a.m. Richard found another hole under the fence and fixed it too. It seemed endless.
Riding in Style
Early Saturday morning he got out again before I went shopping. This was the third week he was here. I went on ahead to the store and saw him cross the street ahead of me and cross the parking lot to the houses on the other side. I went on into the store. When I was thru, I waited for Richard to pick me up. In a few minutes I saw his car coming and it looked like the dog was in the back seat. It was the dog and he rode up in style. I was surprised. After I got in, Richard put the groceries around me instead of in the back seat and we took off. He said the puppy came back on the front lawn and then in the gate to get water and out again. Richard went on backing out the driveway. When he saw him going he had a fit, so Richard opened the back door and he jumped in, and that’s how he came riding to the store.
The house was becoming sort of a pit stop for food and water and then taking off again. I think he knows the neighborhood better than I do.
4th of July
We had the misfortune of having the 4th of July soon after he came. We had trouble with most of our dogs. It is pitiful to see them cringe or run from spot to spot in the house when they go off. People don’t realize how cruel it is to dogs. Often it goes on for a month. If it’s on a weekend you get Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday with many other days on each side. With one retriever who was badly affected, Richard sat her under the TV set and se listened to it and didn’t hear the fireworks.
This dog was hard hit too. He stretched out on the floor till one exploded and then cringed behind a chair. He went from chair to chair as each new one exploded. Finally he lay by Richard’s couch where he was asleep. He felt safe. He stayed there all night. They won’t go out or anything. It’s a problem. In the shop when a firework went off in the afternoon, he jumped over Richard’s back and onto the record player-radio set. He did this the next day too. He couldn’t figure out when did this. Generally he felt safe in the shop. Can anything else happen in 3 weeks?
Sunday and Monday, July 4th
The next thing to happen was he got out twice early in the morning and came back. The next time we didn’t know he was gone. Someone knocked on the door of the shop and asked him if he had lost a dog. Sure enough, there he was. The fellow who brought him was short and wide and looked very strong. He had hair down to his shoulders. He said he saw him in the parking lot of Safeway and that he dad followed him home, about a half mile. He brought him back to this area, holding his collar, and tried our house first. He saw the shop in the back. He was right, he was ours. This was the end for me. Where else are you going to find somebody who would bring your dog back a half mile?
Richard gave him $6 and we put him on the chain. I didn’t want him to get out again. Actually the fellow brought him back one more time. This was all before seven in the morning.
Since he was already chained, we went ahead to the 4th of July picnic in the afternoon. He was chained to a heavy yard mower that you sit on. When we came back his water was turned over and he had torn some rug off the back door. Also, he had torn off the lean-to board Richard had made for the little puppy. He was alright however. He was even dry. There had been a downpour on the way home but he must have used his dog house. Probably there had been some fireworks. We didn’t notice it at the time but the outdoor faucet was on. We took him in the house to undergo the last fireworks, we hoped. It was more peaceful after 10 o’clock.
Fixing the Fence
It was a question whether we would survive the dog. He was doing us in. Richard had fallen down chasing him and hurt his arm badly, also his toe. We hobbled along another week, taking him out on a leash in his own yard. He was too big for me, so Richard had to do this, even at night sometimes. Everything was thrown off because the fence wasn’t fixed. We took him off his chain into the house quite a bit where he could walk free. We didn’t like the chain either. It was very heavy and looked like it might have been used for a truck tire. There was a break in his work however and Richard started fixing the fence. I often sat on the lounge chair by the dog outside so he would have someone near. It seemed better. I spent a lot of time there.
A whole section of the fence needed fixing because it had slid down a small embankment where the dirt was loose. He decided to fix it from the first. It took a week and 3 days with a couple of days out to do some signs. He worked hurt and worked hot. It was 100 one day. It was dedicated work. I sat most of the time by the dog on the chain.
Although he had quite a bit of lumber he had to get more. He tore the fence down and started over. He worked evenings too. Sometimes he took the dog off the chain and put him in the house for a while where he could walk around. After a long time it seemed, he said he thought it was ready. The next day we tested it.
We let him out early Sunday morning. For over an hour he banged at every board in the fence but he didn’t get out. I think he was disappointed. Besides that I had gotten some new dog food and he didn’t like it. Richard said his day wasn’t going well at all. He couldn’t get out of the fence and he didn’t like his new dog food. Fortunately he changed his mind about that. I wondered what I was going to do with 50 lbs of dog food.
Three weeks have passed and he still hasn’t gotten out. As time passed it seemed he lost interest in getting out. We took a deep sigh and life settled back to normal.
I finally decided to call him Roscoe. It was a strong name. At first he didn’t notice it because he had had so many. He was definitely a Roscoe, Richard and Roscoe.
A Long Ride
By this time he had had 5 rides, some short and some long. This time we went to a suburb across town to see about a job. It was a long, long ride but there were freeways too. He rode in the back seat. Richard had known the owner of this business since he was in high school, and his father before him. Roscoe was very popular. It turned out that the owner had always had shepherds. Roscoe shook for him. He made over him quite a bit. Other liked him too and he shook with everyone who wanted to. We had a long wait. Richard also had to paint gross weight on one of the trucks. It was tiring, but we had a good trip. Roscoe was very good. The owner also told us that Bullet was Roy Rogers’ dog. We didn’t know it.
Another Long Ride
The next week we took another long ride. This time we were going to wish one of Richard’s best friends Happy Birthday. They had a small dog too. We didn’t know how it would work out. We took his chain, hoping we could fasten him to their fence. Their fence was only 2 or 3 feet high.
When we got there they put their smaller dog in the house. Roscoe had seen her however and wouldn’t quiet down. Finally we hooked him to their metal chain fence. They brought out some water for him with ice floating on the top. He liked it. Later he knocked it over. After he seemed settled we went up to the deck above. We talked quite a while. If I thought I hear the dog, I would go over to the other side and talk to him. I could see him and he could see me. When I told him to take it easy he would lie down. He was very, very good and waited a long time.
When we got ready to go we had the same trouble. He saw their little dog on the deck and had a fit. Richard could hardly hold him. At last we started off. His friend said he’d like to have one too.
One day in the early fall, his owner brought a whole shank ham for him to eat. He put it in the huge dog bowl he had brought and it filled it. He was going to let him eat it all at once. He said he had done it before. I took it in the house however and cut off some big pieces for him. I cut off some every day and gave him. I froze a little bit for later. It was a good idea but would have been better in the winter. He had the whole thing to himself.
After a long period of staying in the yard, he got out again. Richard was going out the gate and he pushed past him and ran down the driveway. Richard went over to the car and started the motor and sure enough he came up the driveway and Richard got hold of him and put him back in the yard. He didn’t want Richard to go without him. In fact he doesn’t like him to go at all.
Two days later he got out again. Richard had been talking a long time to someone in the shop. At first Roscoe sat with them but then he went out the side door. He must have heard the big door open in the shop as he was leaving, and he rushed thru the side door and on out the big door down the driveway. This time he did not come back. Richard started the car again but he didn’t come. In fact he stayed out all day. Richard saw him next door where he had a cat in a tree, and across the street sometimes but he stayed rather close. It started to rain but it didn’t bother him. His coat is so thick it doesn’t seem to go in. However he did lie down on the driveway close to the gate but not too close. Any attempt to get him he would have run away again. Richard had left the gate open as we usually did. At 3:15 when he gets hungry I fixed his dinner and took it out to the yard. I was just setting it on the ground when he burst thru the gate right to his food. He came on the minute. I closed the gate. He didn’t seem to mind. He was hungry.
The Wire Screen
Richard thought of something entirely his own for Roscoe. The doors of the shop opened directly on the driveway. In summer is he wanted one of the big doors open he had to close the side door so he wouldn’t come in. His habit was to go in and out of the shop and play in the yard a while and then come in the shop a while with Richard. Especially when Richard was painting boards over and the air was strong, he had to keep him out.
Then he thought of making an indoor screen inside of one of the big doors. He made a frame about 5’ high and 6’ long and covered it with heavy wiring. Since he had 2 smaller pieces he made a smaller board across in the middle too. He fastened the screen in place and opened the big door. Roscoe loved it. He could like down and look all the way down the driveway. He could see customers coming or a cat. Richard made hinges for the heavy screen so it would open back if someone came. Even though it was near the end of summer, he made it for him. It was ingenious and made a lot of happiness.
The next time Roscoe got out thru the shop door, but he didn’t come back. One day passed, two days, three. His owner happened to come over the next day. He checked the pound but no Roscoe. His place was empty on the rug and he didn’t come to dinner. Then Mike checked the neighborhood. In front of our house was Roscoe across the street on a rope going into a phone booth. The lady had seen him in front of her house and kept him. She had dept him out of the rain but he was thinner. Mike brought him back, and such was the ending of this simple story. WE were all glad to see him, and he was hungry.
After this he has not gotten out again so far. He is not as wild as he was. My husband is pleased with him. He says he has fallen in line with our routine here. He still loves Richard and he notices me more than he used to. He still loves to ride and has had many rides, not only across the street to pick me up at the store, but long rides too. We tried leaving him in the car alone while we both went somewhere and he was good. He didn’t even bark. He had a good sense about things. Richard called him Hammerhead, an apt name. Soon he wanted to please us and became a good dog.
He liked about everything. He loved milk and liked eggs. In summer I would put an egg in his mouth (without the shell) and he would run behind a tree and eat it. He loved the canned dog food in his dry food. It was a real treat. When he first came he was curious about all the food. I let him have a taste of everything. He always liked it. I let him see
how everything tasted. At Christmas I gave him eggnog and he lapped it up. He liked milk and eggs, so he liked eggnog. Mike brought him meat and I gave him things too. He was very hungry when it was time for his dinner. About 7, after we said out prayer, he got some graham crackers. He dove into the bowl. All our dogs got them. It was so they wouldn’t be hungry after they went to bed.
The other day, Richards took Roscoe to the bank with him. He said he was going to deposit him. However after a while they both came back. I guess they didn’t have facilities for him.
Last week we went to a little art show and left him in the back seat. It was getting dark and cooling off. When we came back all the windows were steamed up from his hot breath. Water was rolling down on the inside.
The other day it was warm and I gave him his dinner in the yard. A few minutes later Richard came in with the dog. He said he ran thru the shop and was busting to get in the house for his dinner. It was dinner time. He thought he was going to get another dinner in the house.
One warm February day, Mike took Roscoe away to wash him. This is always a big job. He hopped up into the back of his big pick-up. He came back quite a while later, almost dark. He was barely damp. His back seemed dry. I gave him his dinner as it was late. He ate in a subdued way. Afterward he came in the front and lay down. He was very tired. He didn’t move. He didn’t even think of his cookies (graham crackers) after the prayer. After he went out I gave them to him as he had looked at the cupboard. He was so tired he didn’t even go out that night. The next morning he was still tired. It turned out he had taken him to the park and let him run. He didn’t wake up till Richard started getting ready for work. When he heard the kitchen door he was right there. He went out and waited till he was ready. Then we came in the house at the window and watched him go. He always waves and toots the horn for Roscoe. He stayed pretty much awake after that.
The other day his owner came by to take him to the vets for his shots. When he came home he was tired. He lay down all afternoon in the house although he didn’t sleep. He was tired that night too. He was a little different for a couple days but he recovered. He was already 4 but they affected him.
Watching Richard Mow the Yard
On a sunny day in April Richard decided to mow the front lawn. It was already high. After he was ready I opened the front door but left the screen hooked. Roscoe lay down and looked out the screen. He kept his ears up. He stayed there the whole time Richard mowed, looking out the screen.
The other day Richard was putting on his belt and it hung to the floor. Roscoe thought it was his leash. He watched it slowly disappear as Richard put it on.
The Shaving Lotion
When Richard puts shaving lotion on, he rubs it on Roscoe’s head. It’s just a little extra that is on his hand. He likes it. All the dogs liked it.
Last night Richard couldn’t get Roscoe to some in. He was out 2 hours. Finally when he came he had a baby possum about the size of a mouse. He seemed to be trying not to hurt it. He put it inside the door. Richard put it outside the fence.
I was in the yard and all of a sudden the chase was on. He was chasing a beautiful cat. It was cinnamon color with black nose and feet and tail. It is in the driveway a lot but it got in the yard. They both ran hard but the cat got over the fence. Big Foot or Moose, the Danes, would have caught it.
I saw Roscoe playing with one of his bones the other day. He tossed it up in the air and then pounced on it and tossed it again, just like Mr. Foot used to.
His owner brought him a huge bone. It looked like pork from the lower leg. He took it and went off with it. A couple hours later I saw him carrying the bone covered with dirt. It must have been wet dirt. He had dug it up already.
The other day I got my coat out of the closet to sew it. Roscoe pitched a fit. He thought I was going to go. This was alarming, especially as Richard was already gone. I laughed. I sat down in a chair to sew and he put his head on my lap. He wasn’t going to let me work. It was funny. I finally put the coat back in the closet.
Roscoe’s Dog Tags
Roscoe had two tags. One was his dog tag and the other was for a rabies shot. He found a new place to lie down in the house - - between the organ and the big window. There was a cold air duct there on the floor and that’s how the trouble began. One day Mike didn’t see his dog tags. I hadn’t noticed it. We could never find them outside, especially in the tall grass. I said I’ll look where he lies. They weren’t behind the big chair in his den. Then I saw a bent silver ring above the cold air duct. Sure enough his tags were in there. They were stuck however in the wood. It was lucky Mike had only put a thin wire around them and he had pulled loose. Richard had to lift the wooden piece up to find them. I was happy to tell Mike they were here. He put an s-hook on them so they would stay on. I put a thin piece of cardboard over most of the air duct so they wouldn’t go in again. We didn’t have to get a new license.
The other day Richard lettered a large truck in the driveway near the shop. He put the huge screen in place in the shop so Roscoe could watch him. He stayed there all 3 days. He could see him do the sides but when he did the back he could just see his feet or the bottom of the ladder. He stayed there though. Nothing can drag him away from Richard.
Watching Richard Make the Fence
The same thing happened when Richard put in a new fence. This time they were both in the back yard together. He watched every move he made, for opportunities to get out. I said he was his supervisor. Twice we put him on a chain for a couple hours when there was a gap in the fence. This went on for several weeks. He really enjoyed watching him.
Looking for Roscoe’s Chain
Next Roscoe lost his whole chain, tags and all. This was a big problem. We had a big yard and it was almost impossible to trace where he had been. There were blackberry thickets growing along the fence where his trails were. Also the big apple tree in the back was like a jungle with grape vines growing in it. They went on over into the plum trees which had thorns too. A dog could get thru but not a person. On this side the fence passed the holly tree with its sticky leaves. He had a 2’ high trail by it but a person would have to crawl thru. I looked for it as well as I could.
Finally Richard found it while he was mowing the lawn. It was in some tall grass. It wasn’t by the fence at all, it was in the grass. We didn’t know how he lost it here. It hadn’t caught on anything. Richard put his tags on his collar he wore when he went out and didn’t wear them in the yard anymore. We were lucky to find it.
One night there was a loud pounding at the window. It was Mike, his owner, with a big sack of meat. He said it was starting to spoil and he’d have to eat it soon. I put it in the ice box as it was late.
The next morning I looked at it. It was a huge piece of beef in strips. It was beautiful. I never had anything like it myself. It was turning some. I soaked it in baking soda and water like Richard’s mother used to do and then rinsed it and boiled it about 5 minutes. It turned hard and chewy. I thought it would last 4 days so I gave him about a fourth each day. I gave him the pure meat chunks. It was quite a change from his diet. He ate it so fast.
Mike had just started driving a truck for a chicken company. When he delivered the chicken, sometimes the stores would have meat for him. A few days later he brought a lot of hamburger wrapped up. It was in good condition. I gave it to him like it was.
We had to get a new hot water tank in the basement. The plumber had to go back and forth to his truck thru the back gate; therefore we had to put Roscoe somewhere else. Richard put him in the shop with the screen in front so he could see and closed the door. He stayed with him. It took 3 hours. Halfway thru he let him out and he got some water. After 10 minutes they were back. When it was all over he let him out. He didn’t seem to be in his right mind. He ran in little zig-zags in the yard. Maybe he got a little dehydrated. He got well by himself in the yard. The next morning he was alright.
The Cabin in the Woods
On July 4th we went to visit friends who had a cabin in Mt. Hood National Forest, in the foothills. It was lovely. The men went down to the stream in front and took Roscoe. He tied his chain to a tree. He chased a squirrel as far as his leash would go and then he fell asleep under the trees. When they came up they tied him next to the deck and I gave him some water. He had all afternoon in the midst of the trees. Then we had to go and took him with us. It was a long ride back and pretty too.
The Corn Cob
Richard was eating half an ear of corn out in the yard. When he was almost done, Roscoe started sniffing it. He seemed interested. I said, Why don’t you give it to him. He tossed it in front of him. He lay down and started to chew it. He chewed it in pieces and started to eat them. He ate it slowly but ate every one. I said, Now I’ve seen everything. Neither one of us had seen a dog eat corn before. He said maybe it was the butter and salt. We had to laugh.
The Magnifying Glass
Richard and Roscoe were walking thru the house and Richard held his magnifying glass in front of him. Now he’s a Seeing Eye dog he said.
In the evening Richard says a prayer. Roscoe curls up by the front desk. He never makes a sound. He is very quiet. After the prayer he gets four squares of graham crackers (two sheets). He almost attacks them. He loves them. Our other dogs get cookies before they went to bed too. They loved them.
Roscoe really didn’t have any toys. Once out-of-doors I rolled a ball in front of him but he didn’t have any inclination to chase it. He had been on a chain most of his life and didn’t play. He hadn’t had a chance. When Richard fixed the fence in the blackberry bushes he found four Frisbees and a ball of the children next door. I threw the Frisbee in the air but again he had no inclination to chase it. I haven’t tried to teach him yet.
He did find one thing that he liked though. Richard had put his large nails for the fence in a 3 lb. plastic peanut butter jar. Roscoe had taken it. He found it down farther in the yard. The lid was off. He had liked the sound of the nails in the jar. This was his first toy.
When the Freezer Went Out
Part of the freezer in the ice box went out. It was mostly meat. Roscoe had a heyday. For 3 days he had hamburger for breakfast and dinner. Then he had thin sliced lunch meat - - honey ham and chicken. For dinner I boiled 12 wieners. Sunday he had 2 boiled pork chops and dry dog food. Then more wieners. I wondered how I would get him back on his regular food. However he did this himself. He wanted milk in the morning. Also he took long looks at his dry dog food whenever he went down the back steps. I don’t know if he appreciated this windfall. I wondered if eating all meat left him hungry. Anyway the wieners are about gone.
Roscoe had a sore on his leg. I was putting Vaseline on it. He had to be lying down in a certain way. One night when I came in he had disappeared. I hadn’t even carried the jar to give it away. What could it be? I went back and noticed a clicking noise when I took the lid off. Maybe that was it. I left the lid off. Later I tried again but he still vanished. What was it? The door of the medicine closet made a little noise. I never did catch him that night but the next day I put some on while he was standing to go out. But how did he know the Vaseline would be for him? We used it too and opened the cupboard often. He did know though. It was some special sense.
My husband thought we should put salt water on it. First I put Peroxide and then salt water and Noxzema. At first he would slink behind chairs when I called him. Then sometimes I would catch him lying down on the right side and put it on. It started healing. He got so good that when I called him or he knew I was ready, he would come and lie down on his right side. I was surprised he always got the right side. He was very quiet. He only licked it off a few times. He was very, very good.
My mother sent a beautiful card to Roscoe and me with a dollar enclosed for a treat. This was extra to his birthday and Christmas. I decided to get a bone because he had just had a lot of meat when the freezer went out. I had to go to the store three times to find one. They said they didn’t have many bones anymore. The last time I spied a bone high on a stack of meat. It was white. It was just the right size, almost a foot long. I gave it to him right away. It was a bright sunny day in winter. He took it a little way from the back door and dropped it. He started on it right away. It was morning. An hour later we looked out the window and he was still chewing on it. He kept up for a while more. Then it disappeared. I don’t know where he put it. It was smaller.
Three days later on Sunday night he wanted to stay out. Then when he came in he hesitated at the basement door and again on the steps. When he got to the kitchen he dropped his bone. I hadn’t seen it. He wanted it inside. It was wet outside by now. I put it in his den behind the big chair and desk by the front door. I thought he would like that. Also we wouldn’t fall over it. In the night however he brought the bone into my room. I thought he would chew on it but he left it and went away.
Then we had some cold weather and lots of rain. The bone stayed in the bedroom. Then it warmed up some and I put the bone outside. I didn’t see him with it. Then we got some very warm weather in November, almost 70. I was sitting outside and I saw him dig up his bone. It was in Richard’s dirt pile. He dropped it behind a stack of wood. That night, very late, he stayed outside for almost an hour. I feel sure he was chewing on his bone. He was waiting for warmer weather.
Thanksgiving arrived and Roscoe had more meat. I boiled all the giblets and neck and gave him some each day. I boned the neck and there was a lot of meat. He also got all the turkey skin and much more. At the end of the week I boiled the turkey bones for soup and he got a lot more. His plastic bowl in the ice box had a lot in it. He ate it right up.
One thing he did which impressed me. He came to me with a long wing bond form the yard and dropped it in my lap. He wanted to see what I thought of it. I told him the puppies didn’t eat that. He seemed to know it was wrong. None of our other dogs had done anything like that. I was impressed.
One day when I came out of Safeway I saw Richard and Roscoe riding down the street. Roscoe sits in the back seat. I wondered where they were going so suddenly. When they came back I found they had gone to the bank. Make, his owner came out of the door and patted him. It was the first time he had met anyone he knew when he went out.
Roscoe loved popcorn. Some of our other dogs had too. He lay in front of my chair and I would put handfuls on the floor. He ate so fast I hardly had time to get any. Whether it was the bacon grease or the salt I don’t know.
A Gentle Dog
Roscoe had improved a great deal since we got him. It had been over a year. When he came he was sort of wild. My husband called him Hammerhead. However he loved Richard and followed him everywhere. Richard was good to him and it tamed him. He no longer threw himself at the fence to get out. He loved the big yard and went to the back often. He patrolled it too and went all around the fence to see if everything was alright. This was his own idea. He became gentle. Also very obedient. He would do anything we said, however small. It was a big change. Of course he wasn’t on a chain anymore either. We were very happy with him.
I forgot to say that Roscoe went around with us to different houses Thanksgiving. At the first dinner she gave us pumpkin pie and fruitcake to take home. They were wrapped in aluminum foil. I didn’t know where to put them in the car. The glove compartment was full. I set them on the dash. We left him in the car again. When we came out later he had eaten it. There was no bite in the aluminum foil. He must have unwrapped it. Not a speck was left. He was hungry. I couldn’t blame him.
Yes, he got out again. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving. We didn’t notice he was gone for two hours. I thought he was in the shop with Richard. It was pouring rain. At 4 o’clock I decided to take his dinner to the shop. I fixed it and put on my coat and boots. I took it out to the shop but he wasn’t there. Richard thought he was in the house. I called to him on the way back. I noticed the gate wasn’t hooked. It was tight and dropped and didn’t fall into place easily. It was our fault. We checked the basement but he wasn’t there.
Richard said he would look for him in the car. In the meantime I went in and the phone rang. It was the girl in the house next door they are buying from us. She asked if our dog was out. I said he was. She said they had a big dog over there and she’d hold him for us. I rushed out in the driveway to try and stop Richard. He hadn’t backed up yet. I told him the dog was next door. He put the car up and walked over in the pouring rain.
He said the whole family was inside and Roscoe was in the middle of the floor playing with the children. They didn’t want him to go. They wanted to keep him but the mother said he was our dog. He put on his leash and took him out.
When he got home we didn’t say much to him but later I said he had a good mama and daddy and good food and a big yard to play in. Richard put an extra loop over the gate to be sure it was closed. We had one more chance to keep him in.
At the Bank
After Christmas, Richard took Roscoe to the bank with him. He usually walked around the parking lot. He was eager to go. When he came home he said Roscoe had been in the bank. I said you mean he walked outside? He said no, he was inside. I said wasn’t that nervy taking him inside? He said Booker (the president) asked him. I said how did that happen?
He said he was walking Roscoe and Booker was on the inside of the glass door. He said, Does he bite? Richard said, No. He said, Bring him in. So Richard took him in. He sat right by Booker’s desk, looking important, Richard said. They mostly talked about Big Foot, our big Dane. They said they were afraid of him. He went and got 3 big dog biscuits for Roscoe and he ate them. How he happened to have them I don’t know. He is a stiff and formal person. At the end Richard told him to shake hands with him and he raised his paw. Booker shook his had. It was unbelievable. It is a fairly large bank with high ceilings. It looks like marble. There weren’t many people there. It was an experience to remember.
The Wind Storm
Before this was the wind storm. First we had an ice storm which lasted two days. In Portland, OR we often have an ice storm in the winter but not for two days. Traffic was a mess. Once when Roscoe went outside Richard asked him if he had his ice skates on. He didn’t slip.
Then came the wind storm. It was more unusual and the winds got to 90 mph. It toppled trees which were wound around with power lines. Some trees went thru roofs of houses. At one point 350,000 people were without lights or power. Here our problem is different. The wind blew down about 25” of fence. Before we knew this we sent him out anyway and he came back. He was unusually good. After we found a big section of the fence was down, I prayed with him before he went out. He came back pretty well but once he came up the driveway. The next time he had also been out but came up the driveway in a few minutes. Richard said from then on he was going to take him out on his leash. This was a big job. For 3 weeks in winter he took him out day and night. A young friend helped him fix the fence. At last it was done. Although Roscoe doesn’t like fireworks at all, he slept thru the wind storm.
Easter Sunday we went to Troutdale, about 15 or 20 miles, for dinner. Although it was only April it got to almost 90. Roscoe would have been better off at home. When we got there, there was not place to chain him. It was a new development with no fences and no trees. Richard backed the car up and chained him to it. We gave him a bowl of cool water. He was very thirsty. The garage shaded him. We went inside. Although we were there 3 hours he never barked. Maybe he heard our voices in the back. Also, he didn’t bark at the other guests coming in the front door. I was very proud of him. We went home where it was cool.
The Chinese Food
My niece and I went to a Chinese restaurant to eat. It was buffet style and you could eat as much as you wanted. It was the first time I had eaten there and I had a few things left over - - some fries crescents and a pot sticker. I wrapped them up for Roscoe and put them in my pocket. I didn’t know if he would eat them or not. Some tasted strange. When I got home I tried one of the pieces. He gobbled it right up. The same with the others. He didn’t hesitate. I was surprised but Richard says he liked FOOD.
A New Bone
The store often doesn’t have big bones. I saw some that said beef feet. They were sawed in half. It looked like bone and hide and marrow. They were very white. I decided to try them. Sure enough he took it in him mouth and ran across the yard. He did eat it all except the bone which he couldn’t chew. They would work until I found a big bone.
Sweet Potato Skins
Although I had given the dog’s sweet potato skins mixed in with their dog food, I had never given it to them plain. He looked hungry after we had finished eating. The skins had sweet potato on them so they were very nice. I gave him a piece and he ate it. He ate them all.
Richard has a padded vest he wears when he goes out to the shop. Roscoe follows him everywhere. At the least sound that he touched his vest, Roscoe leaps up and runs to the back door to go with him. If he barely touches it he hears it and jumps up. Even Richard was surprised about this. He followed him everywhere. He would stay out in the yard for hours even in the cold and rain if Richard were in the shop.
By the shop were some big logs that Richard had cut. They were almost 2’ by 5 or 6” thru. They were very heavy. Roscoe dragged them into the yard to play with them.
Roscoe and the Sweet Potato Plant
Richard wanted some sweet potato vines in the shop. I found one and he cut some pieces off. He put them in water and set them on the window sill of his shop. A couple weeks later he set them outside for a few minutes and Roscoe ran off with one and ate it. He hung his tail but he was hungry. Richard rescued the other two. Roscoe was losing weight so his owner would be happy with him. He was hungry. He also ate two of Richard’s art gum erasers.
When Richard would ask Roscoe something and he didn’t answer, he would say - - He doesn’t feel like talking.
Richard said he was going to give him a key so he could let himself in and out.
One day there were a couple shots fired in the neighborhood. They sounded like fireworks, which he hated. Then there were two loud knocks at the front door. He took off to the back. He thought the fireworks had come here.
He’s getting so he wants to stay in all day with the warm weather. He doesn’t want to stay out at all. He does like to go out at night though and plays when it’s cold. Richard said he stayed out 3 hours the other night.
I gave him some corn flakes and it was really funny, the loud crunching noise.
A lady wanted to take his picture. He sat down. She said, Say cheese, and he opened his mouth and smiled. It was funny.
Thanksgiving we went to a friend’s house for dinner. It was pretty far away. We took Roscoe as usual. They have a low metal fence with ivy around their yard. He could have jumped it. They tied him to a big tree and brought a large green canvas for him to lie on. They also filled his bowl with water. They fixed up an individual place just for him under this large pine tree. I think he really enjoyed himself while we stayed. They also have an older female dog and they touched noses. He was so much bigger. It was a shame to leave, they has it fixed so nice for him.
This is a picture postcard I wrote to Mother in the rest home in Va. from Roscoe, February 5, 1998.
Dear Mother, This is Roscoe, I am writing to you. I had a fried egg for breakfast. Then I went over to the store with Richard to pick up Carolyn with her groceries. She had a lot. There was some dog food for me too. She is cutting up real garlic in my canned food to get rid of my fleas. I eat it up and she is happy. When Sheila was here we showed her how we waved goodbye to Daddy. It was fun. I love you.
Roscoe X O X O
The fall, winter and spring of El Nino was warm in the day and little rain. Roscoe liked to stay in during the day and out at night even though it was pretty cold. I don’t know why he did this. Richard said he like staying with us in the day. Anyway he kept Richard up half the night going in and out. Richard got tired and worn out. I tried putting just a little water in his bowl late at night as he would drink a lot before he went out. This didn’t work too well and he still got Richard up all the time. I think I will start making him stay out in the day and then maybe he will be tired at night. Even this might not work. The other day we were gone five hours in the afternoon and evening and he was happy to come in when we came home after dark. He lay down and fell asleep. I thought he would not want to go out again as there had been some rain too. He had been wet instead of staying in his dog house. But no, after two or three hours he wanted to go out again in the cold and stayed out two or three hours more. What shall we do with him? We are too soft on him and he is spoiled. Richard is so solicitous of him. Anyway I will make him stay out tomorrow more in the daytime and see if that helps.
- - - - - - - - - -
I am cutting up real garlic in Roscoe’s canned food. I heard it gets rid of fleas. Not only that, but the flea medicine is so expensive. Richard doesn’t want to get any more and the fleas bother him so much. I got a big garlic at the store and take a section or half a section and cut it up real fine. I put it in the canned dog food right before I mix it with the dry food for his dinner so the taste won’t thru it too much. Even though there is a terrific smell he eats it right up and I am very happy. I didn’t think he would. I peel the clove and cut it up and put it in. He is very hungry and attacks his food just the way he did before.
You little rascal you,
always like to play
and you’re so little now
but full of life all day.
You little rascal you . . .
Run around the yard to wide
till you’re all happy deep inside
and jump up on me as if to say
Come on daddy, let us play!
And so my puppy wins my heart,
all eager for the games to start.
And every day is just the same - - -
she eagerly awaits the games.
With All Her Heart ~or~ The Little Puppy Who Came to Play
I don’t know how it happened but suddenly there was a puppy coming thru the hole in the fence to dinner. Really she came to play but she was hungry too. She was eager and happy about everything. Not only she came, but she dragged everything she found thru the hole into the yard. There was a gray stuffed bunny, towels, hats, dolls, plastic oil cans and much paper. Also sacks and boxes from the drive-ins with leftover food in them. A couple times early in the morning she got his newspaper off the front porch and dragged it to the back. I thought it was funny but he didn’t like it. The neighbors were gone on vacation and I thought they had left her behind.
I gave her half a small can of dog food morning and evening with two or three pieces of bread or rice. I didn’t see how she could eat so much. She ate every bit. When I walked to the piece of cement to give her her food, she cut back and forth in front of me all the time. I almost fell. I didn’t understand at first but he wanted me to stop and play. Since it was December it was cold and I usually gave her here dinner and went back inside. I always showed her that I loved her though. I made no attempt to keep her since she wasn’t mine. I let her go in and out at will. She was used to being out. It was her life.
Later she ate one piece of bread with her dinner. It was good whole wheat with cracked grains. Later on I gave her a couple of graham crackers about 7 o’clock at night like I had our puppies. Again she wanted to play. Sometimes she would drop them and come back, but sometimes she would run off into the night. I was always happy to see her. She had been well treated before she came because she was so sweet. The people before had been good to her. Sometimes people who lose their home will let the puppies out on their own in hopes they will find a good home. I always let her go in and out the hole. This was her life and kept her happy and enthusiastic. If I had stopped it up and she had to stay in the yard, she soon would have been looking around with nothing to do. Her spirit would have gone.
She must have known there had been other puppies in the yard. There were bones and many things they had had. As she stayed longer I became sure she was a collie shepherd dog, about 5 or 6 months old. They are a gentle dog, and sweet. Often she would roll over and I would rub her stomach. She trusted me. She was a light brown color with a reddish cast. Her spirit was as light as her color. Although she took some sun baths under the maple tree, otherwise she was enthusiastic and lively. One time later on I lifted her chin and sure enough there was the grayish white bib of the collie. She was a collie.
I had a problem with the birds after she came. I had fed them on the same cement that I fed her on. I put a big wooden drawer upside down on a table in the yard. It was just beyond her reach. As I put bread out I gave her a little bit. She left them alone fairly well and sometimes she wasn’t there. Later I started feeding the birds on a roof over part of the back of the house. I called it dinner in the air.
As she stayed longer, my husband built a lean-to against the house for her. It was rainy and windy and cold. It looked so small but she could stand up in it and turn around. He also put a floor in because of the rain. I put a large rug sample on the floor, which she turned upside down. He threw a cookie in and she went in to get it. I put a couple in too. She adopted her new home. There was a maple tree in front of it too so she was well protected. It was sheltered on every side except the front, which she could put her nose out. The next morning when she came for breakfast she was dry except for a dampness on top where she had been out in the morning. She had stayed in her home.
Every morning there was a new assortment of toys in the yard. Up to date green tennis balls appeared, and a baseball. I don’t know where she got all these things. I would walk around and pick up the paper. As I went out she would rush to the hole in the fence by the driveway and up to the trash bin where I threw it away. As I went back thru the gate she would rush back thru the hole and greet me. She was a fast runner. Once she came barreling down the whole length of the yard to me. She was happy.
What was my surprise when the neighbors came home after a 6 week trip to find that it wasn’t their puppy. I guess I have a puppy, I said.
The cold air seemed to keep her energetic and happy. Once I offered her to come in the house but she wouldn’t. I thought I would never love any dog as much as one of our puppies. This dog however whirled her out of my mind. I loved her. She was so energetic and real. She went in and out at night and over to the big supermarket across the street. Sometimes she barked at the dog tied to trees waiting for their owners to come. There’s no telling where she went. Every day new things would appear in the yard. She had her meals and her little house, cubbyhole, here. Otherwise she was free. She stayed a lot in the yard though. I always hoped another dog and I could walk in heaven, but I’d have to take this one too, or one after the other.
Along in February my husband’s fears came true. She was run over by a car or truck. Some kind soul put her up on the boulevard. I carried her in back on a large brown towel. He dug a grave and we put her in it. He put the moss back on top and I put her stuffed rabbit on it. She would never have had her spirit if it weren’t for being free. Although I miss her, she gave me a blessing. It was her enthusiasm and love. They were healing for me.
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About the first of March one year, we went to the Animal Shelter to look for a dog. I walked up and down the cages, looking for a good one. Then I spotted a small brown creature that looked like a bear cub. When I held her she was a fuzzy brown ball. When we got her they gave us a certificate for a clinic up the street where she could get a free check-up.
She was only 8 weeks old but the first thing I found out was that we would not drink milk. She wouldn’t drink any. Also she often refused her food (canned) so I wondered what I should give her. Once she went 3 days without eating when I tried to get her to eat a certain food. She was VERY stubborn and disproved the theory they will eat when hungry. I finally gave her something else. The only thing she really liked was people food, but just the meat. She liked liver and chicken parts. I think her favorite was liver. Other food she just ate.
She was about 8 lbs. and brown mixed with a little black. She had a white throat and white paws. One in front was like a glove. As she grew older her hair got long and beautiful. Her ears had long and short hair and never would comb out, giving her a raggedy look. Her tail had long hair and was very pretty but would not stay combed long. As she grew older, 8 or 10 years, the hair on both of her back legs grew very long and stayed in a finger curl. The rest of her was thick brown hair and the colors blended well. She was very pretty.
What should we call her? We thought for quite a while. Finally I decided I would call her Sable, like the good brushes and artist uses. My husband was an artist. Then, if we were very poor, he could use some of her hair for a brush. She was always his favorite dog.
I took her to the clinic. I asked the vet how big she would be and he said she would be small. I was incensed. How do you know, I said. He also said she had a hernia and should not have pups. He said I could take her back. I kept her of course.
Meanwhile at home, we were having problems keeping her in an area she could wet. We barricaded her in the kitchen but she pushed over the boards. When we tried to put up something we could get thru too, like the fireplace screen, she would collapse it at night. It was quite a problem. For one so small, you would not think she could do it.
When my aunt came she said she had never seen an animal who would not drink raw milk. We got some. Sure enough she drank it. And all those years of struggle. This was another reason he thought she had wild in her.
At the animal shelter where we got her, they had given her a bowl of milk with dry food in it, but she wouldn’t eat it. Then I knew why. My husband said they wouldn’t have kept her very long.
Later her standard dinner was half a small can of dog food. She ate this. However, when I gave her stew, she picked out every pea and put them beside her bowl. She always kissed my wrist as I put her bowl down.
When she was young, she would dance for a special piece of food or treat from the table. It was nice to see her dance and she would turn as we moved the food around. We enjoyed it.
When she was young, about 8 months, I went back East on a trip. I called back a couple times and he said everything was alright. The third time however he confessed she wasn’t eating. He said she hadn’t eaten for almost 2 days. Then he had an idea. He called her and held the receiver to her ear. “Talk to her,” he said and I did. When she heard my voice she licked the receiver and went and ate her dinner. She was alright. She was happy and so was he. We used this method later on too.
She preferred to stay in unless she was in the sun. Even in the house she would lie in a patch of sun. She hated to get wet or go out in the rain. Only in warm summer would she go out willingly.
She like nothing artificial as balls or chew-toys. She liked the real thing. She did like bones. She got very excited and wagged her tail, really happy. She guarded it and growled if anyone got close to it.
The thing she liked best was taking a walk. She got so excited, dancing and turning around in circles. It was hard to get her leash on. Then she would run to the door frantic and it was hard getting everything together to go. Even at the least sound of her leash in the closet, she would get excited.
She liked to walk almost anywhere and would sniff anything interesting - -plants, rocks, grass, trees and where other dogs had been. She identified where people she like lived, by the scent. She knew their property. She walked very proud, with her tail high. Anything interesting she smelled. She crossed in front and in back of me all the time and it was hard to keep her leash straight. She never changed. She really didn’t need a leash. She obeyed perfectly. When she got to a corner I told her to stop and she would sit. After I got there, we would go on. The new leash law required a leash but she didn’t need one. As she grew older she couldn’t go as far but she wanted to go on rather than turn back. It was also hard in the summer if the sidewalks were too hot. She was always perkier after her walk.
She helped me answer the phone in our business. When the phone rang she would jump out of her chair and go toward it, with me. She got very excited. She answered every call. Therefore I say she helped me. She was a good companion. She also answered the door in the same way and got excited. Also she let me know when the mailman came.
People generally liked her as she was very human-like and said a good word about her. However she did usually have to sniff everyone that came. If she knew them she wagged her tail and was happy.
Most of the time she had a certain chair she could jump up on. That was hers. She enjoyed having a place. Also later, with the other dogs, she didn’t get stepped on. It was full of hair for she lost it in the winter too. She seemed content though with her place. Her chair was always near the front door and phone where the action was.
The thing I found out about Sable, her most persistent characteristic thru the years, was that she had a mid of her own. From the very first, refusing to drink milk or eat some of the food, thru to her later years, she was the same. She would walk away from something you offered in a minute, again and again. It was aggravating.
Also if something happened she didn’t like she would stare - -and stare and stare and stare. You could go away and do something else and come back and she would still have the same set stare with a nasty look on her face. You couldn’t out do her. Her opinions were very set. On this account it often made me mad.
My husband said if I had not spent so much time with her she would have been mean. I don’t know what made him think so. He said she had a lot of wild in her. We often wondered if she could be mixed with fox, because her coloring looked that way.
One time a fellow came who was training a dog for a doctor. He sat in the shop with Richard. Sable was there too. He said, Let her do what she wants to - - he won’t move. Sable went over to the other dog and jumped over him several times. Then se bit down on his nose and held on. He yelled and jumped clean out of the shop. The fellow said he shouldn’t do that. However he didn’t realize that he couldn’t breathe. Richard said it was the wild in her.
When she was older she did not want to be bothered as much, whether by the other dogs or by me. She would make a growling noise or bite out at them. Her knees hurt her and she got a shot in one of them. She went along well for a while but her back legs bothered her. When she was very old she would often size up the distance on or off the chair before leaping. She stayed on her chair all the time and when she was 11 or 12 she slept a lot. She also had a tumor on her head but I don’t know if it hurt her. I couldn’t tell if she could hear or see very well because sometimes she did and sometimes she didn’t.
When she was young she didn’t mind small children playing with her but when she was 7 or 8 she couldn’t stand them to pull at her and pat her hair backwards. She would go in another room when they came and hide.
She always lay in the patch of sunlight on the floor. Wherever it was, there she lay. When I played the organ, she was very relaxed and seemed to like it.
Whenever I didn’t feel well she would lick my arm, like a mother dog, trying to make me well. Once I counted over 100 times.
When she got older, after 11, she slept in her chair a lot but ate a good dinner. One year she didn’t want to go outside after her dinner. It was often rainy. She was very stubborn.
I had to carry her out the whole winter. However after she came back she was happy. The next year she went out by herself. I guess she decided she’d have to anyway.
She lived to be almost 14. Tuesday was election night and Reagan got elected. She died the next day. It was too much for her. She died in her sleep. He buried her under the lilac trees by the drive. She had always lived here so we buried her here too. He missed her since she went out to the shop with him so often.
Little Bit searched outside for her about two weeks. I finally told her she was with God and she never went out again. Whether it was because it was a certain place or whether she understood, I don’t know. Later I let them smell where one of the dogs had died, and they understood themselves.
A tradition of our house had passed away.
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When Little Bit Came
Big Foot, our big Dane, was barking. He had barked for over an hour. I went out to see what it was. He was over by the lilac bushes. What do you suppose! It was a tiny puppy. She was only a few inches high. I picked her up in my hand. She was only a few ounces. I carried her over to the back door and went to get some milk.
I put the milk in one of the dog bowls. She was so small she couldn’t reach over the side to drink it. I got a plastic tray that goes under meat and put the milk in it. This time she drank it. Later after she drank it she tore up the tray. Big Foot was very proud of finding the puppy. He took care of her from then on. If she had been a kitten, he would have done away with it, but she was a puppy. Someone had put her under the fence. After a few days my husband named her Little Bit. He named Big Foot too. He said they were Indian names. She was black, like he was, and had white all down her chest.
Big Foot raised her. He was like a big brother. She was so small I couldn’t see her for the tall grass, but I knew she was hurrying to catch up with Big Foot. She never got lost, and he never lat her go under the fence, which she could have almost any place. He watched her all the time. She was about ankle high to him.
In the Yard
One of the first things I noticed about Little Bit that was different, (you couldn’t help noticing it), was everything she dragged to the back door. There it was, gathered in, an array of old vines, bones, rocks, sticks, flower pots, charcoal and sometimes a cushion from a chair. She lay on the cushion in the yard. One day when it started to rain, she dragged it to the back door, very sensible. She probably wanted it inside. She was a retriever.
She could carry very large things from when she was small, as pick up a tennis shoe and shake it when it was almost her size. She did the same with bones or rocks or sticks. Also turning over the big pan of water and carrying it to the back of the yard. She also pushed over the bird bath, made of heavy concrete. The things she did were from a zest for life. Once she chased a little white butterfly in the yard darting here and there. It was cute.
She liked the snow too. She liked to play in it. She was happy to go out in the snow.
The main thing about Little Bit was, she loved to play. Whether she was tearing up a foam pad or tossing up sticks and bones, she enjoyed it. Mainly she played with natural things in the yard.
Rain, dark or cold, she loved to go out. She was exuberant outside, eager and energetic. She especially liked to go out at night. One night I looked out and there she was, on her pad, looking out into the night like a philosopher. There were some sticks around her.
Even when she was small she would go way out to the back and look around, or to the pile of branches in the garden and scrape her way under them. The flower pots were chewed to pieces, and plastic and foam alike. Then they were dragged to the back door.
In the yard was some charcoal from the wood stove. I don’t know if the charcoal was in the dog bowls or if she covered her feet with it and then stepped in them but the bowls were covered with charcoal. If I cleaned them, they would be covered again. I finally gave up and left them outside.
Another sign of her exuberance was her liking for water. Time and again I found the huge water bowl empty in another part of the yard. Also her legs would be all wet over and over again but I never saw what she did. Finally one day I saw her put her back legs in the big water bowl and kick, and then her front legs. The water got real dirty. There she was. I was happy for her to play in the water though. She loved it. This was mostly in the summer when it was hot. She cooled off. One time when she still wasn’t full grown, I found her wading around the big lower basin of the fountain. I don’t know how she got there. It was at least 2’ off the ground and her paws would barely have reached it. I would have let her stay a while but I thought he wouldn’t like it and took her out. As the days passed, I fell in love with Little Bit. She seemed just right for me. Later she was easy going and liked that too.
Not long after she came we took her to the vets. He said she needed worming. He said it was very important in a small puppy. We took her there to have it done. He seemed to like her very much. I guess he liked retrievers. He said without doubt she was a retriever and about 5 weeks old.
Sometimes I would hear a great noise in the yard. Usually it was her big plastic Clorox bottle. She dragged it around and tossed it. It made a lot of noise. She played with it a lot.
She had an especially nice vine. It was a couple feet long and thick. She chewed it and played with it. She also found a large knot of a grape vine and it was so attractive I let her bring it inside. It became part of the house.
It is impossible to discuss Little Bit without Big Foot. He not only found her, he was with her a great deal of the time. He was like a big brother. She rarely perturbed him - - he was more than her equal. Their main activity was mouth wrestling. She almost always started it, lunging at his head with her mouth open. He would fight too, but he rarely got excited. It started easy but became more realistic later on. When she was about 3 months old, Big Foot started baring his teeth and looked really vicious, but the tussling was about the same. I guess he was going up to a higher level in their ‘fighting’ bouts. He always gave her a handicap. Even when she was 4 months old he would stay lying on the ground when she ‘attacked’ him and wouldn’t even bother to get up in their play. If he wanted her to slow down or stop, he would roll over and lay his paw on her and hold her down a minute without effort. She was never a threat to him. It made you wonder how strong he really was. Sometimes she would stand with a leg on his stomach like a Roman gladiator having vanquished him.
When she got her full size they would chase around the yard. Mr. Foot had made a regular track, too. Interestingly, he always went around counter clockwise. They would run along the track side by side and she thought she was keeping up with him. One day however he stretched out and lapped her before she had taken a few steps. She was so amazed she sat down on the concrete and watched him run. He was very fast and powerful.
In the House
Big Foot had a nice habit of waiting at the top of the steps till the little ones got in. If one of them weren’t in, he would look worried. If Little Bit didn’t come in, I would send him out after her. Right away they would come in.
Once when I didn’t see her I wondered where she was. Where she was, was walking around the bathtub. She loved water.
She also snitched apples and oranges from the display in the kitchen. Another time we walked in the living room to see pieces of artificial flowers strewn over the whole room. She had torn them apart.
Another morning we found pieces of Christmas tree ornaments on the floor along with whatever else she could find. The next night she pulled over the whole tree. You can’t blame her for thinking they were pretty. Miraculously all of the very old ornaments survived.
When she came in from the yard she was very affectionate. She would either bite playfully at Foot or jump in my arms. When her hair got long, many things would stick in it when she came in - - Maple wings, rose sticks with thorns, dry leaves or even a vine several feet long. When she went to bed she would sleep between the bed and the wall. If I were there her head would pop up on the side and I would pat her. If she put up her paw I would duck. Then she would lie down or scoot under the bed. She loved to rest under the bed. She was getting almost too big for it. After she got stuck twice with her collar on, she gradually stopped. She had a bright red collar. She slept very deep and was hard to wake.
They played with Mr. Foot’s ball inside and out, summer and winter. It was very good to pass the winter with. He kept his ball several years without loosing it. He had a back-up ball too. He always knew where his ball was. He liked the yellow one the best. She was awkward at first with the ball, but later would put it in her mouth and parade around. Later she would drop it and catch it again. Richard said she was dribbling. He would let her play with it a while but sometimes he would take it and keep it a long time. Altogether he as good about it.
Of course she chewed up some things when se was small. One time we came home to find many shoes on the floor, all chewed. As it happened, she had taken one from each pair in the bedroom closet. None of them had a good mate anymore. Once I came in to find about a foot deep of feathers and a pillow casing. They were hard to clean up as when I swept, they would hop backwards over the broom. Later on she chewed up another pillow. She was so good though I didn’t hold it against her very much.
Summer Under the Trees
When I went out in the yard and sat down, usually they would come over and sometimes give me kisses. Sable would generally lie under a small table out of the sun and had dug a hole in the dirt where she could keep cool. And so we sat under the trees and spent many happy hours. It was her I watched them play.
Little Bit started it by biting at Mr. Foot until he would bare his teeth and then they would mouth-wrestle. They would roll over and wrestle and bite endlessly. He was usually good to her and took it easy and let her do all the attacking. Although she half bit at him it never seemed to bother him. He played from a position of strength. She was the aggressor. She started this game continually, especially in the evening. She kept him busy and never seemed to tire. He got a lot more exercise than he intended to on account of their games. She wouldn’t let him rest.
The other game was chase. After they got tired of mouth wrestling she would pick up his red ball and taunt him. She would make passes in front of him and swiftly cut back and forth in little circles, letting him clearly see she had the ball. It took some time to get him energized but she never tired. She’d taunt him and run away. She was very courageous. If all else failed, she would run behind the rose bushes where he couldn’t get at her and that generally angered him. He would bark, but if he attempted to go around one end, she would start out the other. She was an expert at faking and cutting back and back tracking. She was very clever at keeping him guessing what she was going to do. By this time he was into the game. If she ran out one end of the bushes the chase was on. They ran around the yard but if she dropped the ball he generally got it. Sometimes they would start from the rose bushes side by side and run together around the yard.
Mr. Foot wouldn’t put up with this forever. Sometimes he really wanted his ball. He pretended like he was going at her and she would drop it. She knew when he wanted it and let it go. She didn’t argue with him. Whether he picked it up of not, it was his. He would often walk quite a distance from it, but if she started toward it he would scare her away. It was off limits then.
She didn’t realize for some time how fast he could run. I explained how he lapped her one day on their track and how amazed she was. He was instantaneous when he wanted to be.
The first summer we didn’t have any trouble about birds because she was so small. The next summer she got two or three. She was completely silent and flowing in her movements and I know they didn’t hear her. She was a bird dog, loose and limber in her nature. She was the only one who could leave a room and my husband wouldn’t notice her. It was a small room too.
The next year she got two or three but she was still young. When she was two I finally spoke to her. I told her the birds were our friends and this was their home too. I explained it to her three times and she never took another bird. I admired her for it. I saw one when she was old, but that was different too. Evidently she understood.
They did get possums though. It was mostly Foot’s thing, but she helped him. There was a small tool shed next to the shop and there was often on underneath it. It was usually in the evening or night. As soon as they knew it they would start circling it with one on each side. The kept this up for hours and did not stop for anything. They both panted hard. They dug along the sides but never got far enough to reach it. If it did decide to make a break for it Foot chased it and bit it in half. Only a small piece of skin hung together. Then the possums would stay away for a while and then creep back again. He always got them however. Once they stayed away a whole winter but he got them when they came back.
My husband had a possum cemetery on the other side of the fence where they couldn’t dig them up. He estimated Foot got about 30 possum. He didn’t think she ever got one by herself but she was elated at the hunt. When she came in her eyes would be dilated and she would be panting heavily. Only a driving rain would make them come in. If you called them they stayed out. They were not diverted by anything.
They all liked bones. As old as she was, Sable could still crack bones. I think she liked them more than the others. Richard said she had a lot of wild in her.
Once I had a big ham bone. I gave Foot the bit part and Little Bit the other part. It was the biggest bone she had ever had. She took it way down the yard behind a tree to eat it. She wasn’t taking any chances. When I walked back toward Foot, I couldn’t see his bone anywhere. I couldn’t believe it. A few minutes later it came up. He had eaten it. He was too big for bones. He seemed to understand this and when I gave the others bones occasionally he did not resent it.
One time she got out of the yard. She tunneled under the fence toward the street in front. She was about 1 ½ or 2.
I heard a barking commotion and didn’t see her anywhere so I went in front. There was a woman patting her on the grass by the curb and cars stopped both directions. The lady said she was running around frantically. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t now me either. I almost dragged her up the driveway. The lady probably thought I mistreated her all the time.
I took her inside and she recovered. I kept her in all night. Richard found the hole in the fence and filled it the next morning.
One time when it was late and they hadn’t had their dinner yet, they brought their bowls to the back door. Their message was clear. Another time when it was late and Little Bit hadn’t had her dinner yet, she not only brought her bowl to the back door, but set it inside by the large bin that held their dry dog food in it. It was clear.
How She Looked
She was solid black with white hair all down her chest. She had a red collar that was very bright. Foot chewed some of the metal studs off. The collar made her look cute. When she was about 1 ½ years old, her hair got long. Evidently she was mixed. I thought she was prettier. It may be why they put her in our yard, because she was mixed. She was very pretty and very lovable. She was also limber and loose jointed. She jumped lightly and easily. Her muscles never showed. She was always active.
She was sweet, too. One day when the first pear fell, she brought it up the back steps for us. Other times when she wanted to bring sticks or bones or such in the house, she would lay them on the steps too.
If the people who left her in the yard ever walked by and saw her, they must have seen how happy she was - - pretty and happy. She was also lively. I wrote many poems about her.
Learning from Mr. Foot
Although she learned from Mr. Foot, she was usually her natural self. Besides mouth wrestling and other things mentioned before, she learned other things. If there was some food that was strange to her, she would wait and see if he ate it. If he did, she would cautiously try it. She did this even when she was older. She would get her cue from him. However she ate entirely different food that he did. She chewed each of the dry dog foods separately, whereas he shoveled it in.
It was the same thing when we put a leash on her. She balked and wouldn’t move. When she saw Foot walking with his leash, she saw what to do and walked.
She also started barking at the fence because he did. This was his special job though, and he didn’t always like it. If she went over to the fence first and barked and he didn’t back her up, she would usually stop. She didn’t bark in the house. Evidently it was his job
Although she was young and free in her behavior, she was old in her understanding. Many times she would look up at me and study my expressions. If she liked something, she would thump her tail on the rug. She watched several people in the same way. She seemed to be studying them. She was the first dog to do this. I said maybe she was studying to be a person in the next like. She was both playful and grown up.
She was easy to train, almost by voice. I let her know I didn’t like something but I never wanted to hurt her spontaneity. I mostly trained her by voice.
My Favorite Memory
She liked to go out rain or cold. She liked the snow too. My favorite memory of her is lying out on her pad at night, looking out at the night. She would stay there a long time, looking out. It was just like a philosopher, looking out into the night.
Eventually she was the only one left of our dogs. I got to have her to myself. She was still gentle, but quieter. She was always nice. WE found we couldn’t part from each other. Even when I went to the store she would often bark until I got back. She didn’t want me to go. I had been there all the time. All through the years. She did this when she was 14. I counted the months when she got old.
When she was 13 ½ I started spoiling her. Any nice tidbits I had, I gave to her. It made her happy. She was a good eater and always ate her meals. I had treats on them too, as I usually had. She especially liked tuna and cat food. Our little dog had too. I think it was her favorite.
She is almost 15. Every day is precious. It would leave a big gap if she weren’t here. We like to go out but it is too cold sometimes. In summer, if there is a summer, we will go outside and rest.
I always told her she was good. The puppies are good, aren’t they? They make their mama and daddy happy. The Heavenly Father loves all the puppies. Whenever one of the puppies died, I would tell them that he was with the Heavenly Father, which I believed. He has given us a lot of extra time with Little Bit, which is good, because we love her.
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