I tried to count all the dogs that have been in our household in the past 40 years and honestly could not remember them all. Why?
Well, at first, we were young and irresponsible. In the late '60s, I honestly do not believe there was anything like a "leash law" in effect. We never had more than two at a time but, while they lived under our roof, they ran free both inside and out. Before going any further, I feel the need to apologize to several neighbors for past indiscretions and destruction of property. Please don't sue me now. Hopefully, the law will not allow anyone to go back that far.
Why I'm on this guilt trip right now is anybody's guess. Probably memories of those who were killed in traffic for our negligence. There was one, however, who disappeared mysteriously. This was back in the mid '70s and, yes, I'm sure they had a leash law in effect then but Ralph was a good dog. Well, at least, he was a funny dog. He was very large and loved to mess with the next-door neighbor. Jerry was a baseball coach. Two or three times a week, he would bring all the equipment out by his car to either take to practice or a game. All of the equipment, and I do mean all the equipment, somehow appeared in our back yard. Ralph liked balls, and bats, and gloves. We always had the strange feeling that Ralph might have been taken far, far away and dropped off somewhere, never to be seen again.
Then there was Annie. She showed up at our back door a few years after Ralph disappeared. It was thundering and she was petrified. Annie was also a big dog. Mixed something or other. I put food, water and a blanket out for her and she never left. This was Tommy's dog. Nobody else's. Just Tommy's. She went wherever he went, whether it was to a friend's house, following him on his bike or picking him up at the bus stop every day after school.
The only problem was the havoc caused when she trampled in neighbor's yards or growled at their dogs if they tried to get near Tommy. I do believe we lost the friendship of several families during that period. Annie died of cancer.
Now we have two dogs and a fenced-in back yard. Sandy is my baby. She showed up here about five years ago and hasn't left. Thank heavens. She has truly been a great comfort to me the past months. Then there's Chi-Chi Rodriguez, a little 10 pound whatever Jay brought home from the golf course in '89. She is now 18 years old, blind and grieving with everyone else. No, I have not considered what you all think I should. She still eats like a little piglet and, until that stops, she will stay with us. Besides, Jay would haunt me if I did anything.
Why tell you about our dogs? It's just a lot of memories coming back. Thought somebody out there wanted to know that, if a dog just shows up at your house, welcome it. That is, after you've tried to find the owner. These creatures are the best you can get. They know what it's like to be homeless and will forever be grateful for the love you're prepared to give.
Pat Fickle is a Martinez resident.
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