Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Doglet is the first dog I've had of my own, and I got her when she was just a pup. Well, in my mid-20s, I was just a pup, too.

When I was growing up, we had several dogs for hunting--bird dogs or coon dogs-- but only once did we have a family dog that I felt some affinity for, and that was the only fur-bearing pet mom ever allowed in the house. Well, there was that Betta fish my brother had for, like, 6 years, but he didn't do cuddly. Then there was the kitten mom let me "have" when I was 4 in Mississippi, but kitty couldn't come in the house, so one night kitty disappeared, and I would pitifully ask the mailman every day to check in the blue mailbox at the end of the street to see if my kitty was stuck inside.

We lived in the Memphis area, and a family we knew were moving to Texas and didn't want to take their poodle, Peppy, with them, so they bequeathed him on us. Peppy was sweet and probably a bit of a dim bulb in the way a small over-bred variety of poodle can be. He was a loving little beast, but he was sort of a tofu dog - he sorta took on whatever flavor you projected on him.

We didn't have a fenced yard, so sometimes we'd just let him outside on his own. One night he was at the door begging us to let him out at almost my bedtime, and it was very cold. I was in a thin little cotton nightdress with pastel embroidered flowers, and I remember begging my mother to let me take Peppy out and put him on the chain that was staked in front, but she wouldn't let me because it was late and too cold, I wasn't dressed, etc. I was about 9.

So, in the way that things always seemed so often to go wrong for me in my childhood, Peppy wasn't out the door 5 seconds before we heard the brakes of the VW Beetle squeal on the pavement in front of our house. I looked out the door, and everything looked black and white except that incongruously, cheerfully yellow car beneath the streetlamp, Peppy's lifeblood spreading black on the pavement.

Peppy was hit and probably killed instantly - though I never asked. Naturally, I was inconsolable.
[gawd, more than 30 years ago and I'm misting up over this(what a sap!), and the whole point of this story is actually funny, believe or not. wait for it.]

I went in my bedroom and threw myself facedown on the bed and squalled myself to sleep. It was a shitty little moment.

My brother, one year older, went with my dad to do away with Peppy. No backyard service for our dearly departed pet, no breaking up frozen earth to bury him. I never asked what they did with him, but my brother told me several years ago, and I just couldn't stop laughing. Here's what he told me:

They drove out to the municipal landfill, which at that time of night was closed, naturally. However, around this dump was about a 30' fence. They drove along the fence a ways until dad divined the perfect spot. Dad got out of the car and carried Peppy by the scruff, poor thing.

What happened next, the way my brother describes it, was what made me laugh until my sides ached, laugh until tears streamed down my face. I'm just glad he waited 20-some years to tell me about it, because the loss was still too fresh. It was just so funny that out of this tragic situation where I'd lost what amounted to an animated pillow came one of those seminal moments where my brother stood in awe of the physical power of our dad.

Dad carried the pitiful carcass by the scruff, and walked into a shadow. Brother saw him draw back Peppy in his right hand - the wind-up, and then up, up and away went Peppy. Let's just say that sweet chariot didn't need to swing very low to pick up this passenger. Brother said that dog not only cleared the fence, but seemed to go up forever, and that he was amazed to see that doughy ball of fur was so aerodynamic.

I got over Peppy. Peppy wasn't mine mine all mine. Doglet, however, is mine in a way I'll never possess another person or pet, and I'm wondering if you only get one of those in a lifetime. I just hope I don't have to lose her soon. Needless to say, I won't rely on my dad for arranging her disposal.

Now, my sister(9 years younger than me) is obviously the genius of the family. She had a way of manipulating mom (the one who especially hates furry things in the house) that was pure poetry. I was in high school, and sister begged for a puppy for years. At that point, I was interested in other things and indifferent to the idea of getting a pet, but I did marvel at what finally made mom relent and get sister a dog.

Sister talked about a dog constantly, and pouted, sulked, screamed and threw fits, but nothing worked until the day she adopted Fred.

Fred was a housefly sister found dead on a window sill. Sister made a cozy little home for Fred in a shoebox, and Fred and his shoebox were then her constant companions. Road trip? Not without Fred. Fred and his shoebox went everywhere with the family.

Needless to say, several months of exhibitionistic doting on Fred paid off. Mom relented and let sister have Fluffy, a pretty little American Eskimo pup. Fred was quickly forgotten.

13 comments:

DogMa said...

Fred.
That was some funny shiz.
My gramma had a mean old black poodle named Peppy too, I shit you NOT.
Small world hunh?
My whole world revolves around my dog.
Even my blog.
Doglet is lucky to have you ya know...he probably knows it too!

Myron said...

"Doglet, however, is mine in a way I'll never possess another person or pet, and I'm wondering if you only get one of those in a lifetime."

Believe me, at the time we lose them it seems there will never be another. But over the past 40 + years I've been blessed with 6 dogs and 3 cats. And I've loved every one of them. See my blog entry about missing one of them.

Kelly said...

It's amazing how the little balls of fur weasel their way into our hearts. It's no less painful than losing a family member when they go.

lilfeathers2000 said...

I bet Fred made your mom nutzzzzz. Especially when her friends did the famous raised eyebrow and nod. I know they did. Those unspoken words from others helped your sis a bunch.
Its amazing how much pets mean to us. How intune to the lowley humans they are.
Enjoy your blessings.

Anonymous said...

When you publish your memoirs (book form), I'll buy the first copy. Your sister is seriously twisted.

Anonymous said...

Great dog stories, very touching. Some of my fondest memories of childhood include my pets..

Dick said...

Hell, it's okay to get misty over an old friend.

phlegmfatale said...

dogma - Yeah, the Fred thing is such an out there story that I would think it was bullshit if I hadn't seen the whole drama unfold before my very eyes.
myron - -aw, thanks, that gives me hope. I guess the best thing is to climb back on the horse and give it another whirl after you've been thrown. Can't wait to read your blog entry
kelly - yup - it's a brutal loss
lilfeathers2000 - *L* Very astute observation - knowing mom she was probably mortified about Fred and his condo going everywhere with the family. Yeah, we're lucky our pets suck up to us so much - it's a wonderful symbiotic union
cristina - Honey, if anyone ever publishes my memoirs, I'll comp you the first copy, ok? Yup, my sister IS twisted, but most people who know us both think I am the crazy one
jacquie - Aw, glad you enjoyed it, hon
big dick - you're right- I don't know why I felt surprised or silly for boo hooing when I wrote that!

Meg Nakagawa said...

Me, too, re. your memoir, or fiction, or made-up stuff, or coffee-table book of your beads and jewellry...

Anonymous said...

Fred was a very low maintance and practical pet for a small child. I highly recommend dead flies for all small children. A

phlegmfatale said...

meg - Ok, you too!

Sister - thanks for weighing in. Considering your housecleaning obsession, I KNOW you'd never allow one of the babies to keep a pet fly, so it's a bit ironic, innit? Besides, all the pets in your house are YOURS. So you going overboard with pets now is probably all mom's fault for depriving you, right? *L* Have those kittens been born yet? Wanna go see Imogen Heap with me?

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes... what night of the week. I've got work fri and sat nights forever. No kittens yet, seems like it must be time, if anyone wants a kitten I'll be willing to mail and gift wrap it. Or better yet, does anyone want a pregnate cat?

phlegmfatale said...

I see there are no takers on the pregnant cat, sis. Looks like you'd better find some kitten recipes while you're in here...