My father had often said, “Those dogs aren’t running my life,” but my sisters and I still laugh, because unbeknownst to him, he and the Great Dane and Dalmatian were part of a chess match. The dogs were the chess masters, and he was their pawn.
My parents usually took the dogs with them when they went to the beach. One day, when my parents were packing their car to leave the beach for my father to go to work; our Dalmatian and Great Dane had slipped out the door and took off. My parents walked and drove the neighborhood for hours, and they finally called the police. It was a sad day when the policeman gave my father the bad news: The dogs had become criminals, and they were locked up behind bars.
I would have loved to have heard the conversation between my parents when my father had to drive to the police station that was several miles away and bail them out. Luckily, he was an attorney and visiting clients in jail was nothing new to him. He said that when he saw the jailed dogs, “They looked guilty.” After loading them into the car, my parents headed home. Unfortunately, they were stuck in rush-hour traffic, and my father missed work. The dogs were affecting his job.
Though my father often complained about our pets, I believe that he liked them though they intimidated him. At Christmastime, he saved empty cardboard rolls from the Christmas paper and stacked them in the corner in the family room. Though he would never hurt anyone or anything, when he thought that the dogs were misbehaving, he would grab a cardboard roll and say, “See this!” and the dogs ignored him as usual and continued what they were doing. I guess holding something in his hand taller than the Great Dane made him feel powerful.
We needed a new car, and my father thought that he was buying the family a station wagon. We, as kids, knew that he was buying the dogs a car, though we hadn’t pointed that out to him. The dogs needed room to spread out for long car rides, therefore their requirements dictated what my father drove.
Though my father pretended that he didn’t like our dogs, when the Dalmatian was diagnosed with a terminal illness, my parents drove her to a veterinarian school hours away as a last-ditch effort to save her life. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful, but I give my parents credit for making that trip.
Ironically, years later after my mother had passed, and the dogs were gone, my father called me and said, “Dorothyadele, a vagrant has entered my office and said that he is leaving town. He has a golden retriever, Ralph, with him, and he plans to have him euthanized. Should I take him?”
“Absolutely!” I said.
The cycle continued. We never knew the dog’s age, but he was a good companion for my father for about five years until Ralph became ill. I knew that my father liked dogs.