A Boy and His Dog
Michael Truth Seeker
I wanted a new dog. My dad and I looked in the newspaper and we found that there were many different kinds of dogs for sale. I wanted a big dog.
I had been saving money that I earned on my daily newspaper delivery route that I could use to buy my new pet. Finally, we decided to drive to look at some full-blooded black Labrador puppies that had been advertised in the newspaper. One of the little pups followed me everywhere and he is the one I chose to purchase as my own.
The Ride Home
After paying for my new puppy we jumped in the car and started for home. For the first few minutes, I couldn’t be happier. Skipper was my puppy! He was my very own puppy. I held my cuddly, active little ball of fur and was so excited to have my very own dog. I decided to call him, Skipper.
We stopped to get a collar, a chain, dog food, a dog bed, and dog dishes for his water and food, at a shopping center. Even as a small puppy, Skipper needed special supplies to meet his particular needs.
A few miles down the road toward home, Skipper decided to get sick all over me, the floor, and the back seat of the car. He was running on the seat, jumping on the floor, jumping back up onto my lap again and all the while he was stepping into and spreading all the mess he had made, everywhere! It was horrendous! The smell was sickening! My parents were shouting,
“Don’t let him loose! Keep him on the floor! Don’t let him get it all over the car!” but, it was too late! Skipper had already messed all over the back seat, the floor and everywhere! The stinking odor was a small part of the actual mess my new puppy had made everywhere!
Skipper’s First Night
I took care of my new puppy. I fed him, walked him, and played with him. When it was time for bed, I put Skipper in his new bed down in the basement. Most of our basement was carpeted so we put him in the one room with a door to close, and only a cement floor, in the event he had an “accident”.
After I was in bed a few minutes I could hear my puppy whining. He was so lonely! He didn’t know where his dad, mom and nine brothers and sisters were. He missed his barn home! He missed his family! He missed the farmer that cared for him, and he made everyone know just how lonely he was.
I took a wind-up alarm clock and wrapped it in a small blanket for Skipper. I snuggled the wrapped up alarm clock beside him, in his bed, so that he might think it was the heart beat of his mother or brothers and sisters. Then, I crawled into my bed again, exhausted! The whining began again and it could not be ignored. At first, it was a soft whimpering whine. Then, it became louder and higher pitched. It was a sound you paid attention to. I was the kind of sound that you would do anything just to get it to stop. I spent that entire night downstairs with Skipper trying to put him to sleep. I played with him, held him and rocked him like a baby, talked to him, and he liked me being with him, but to Skipper, this wasn’t his home yet, and he didn’t sleep.
Finding Skipper’s Comfort Zone
I tried everything I could think of to make Skipper happy but nothing seemed to work. He would not sleep when I tried to sleep with him. He whined when his bed was on the cement floor in a closed room. The effort to have him sleep in the garage too, was a failure. One day, I tied him outside, in our backyard, under the huge pine tree. There was a little dog house under that tree that my brothers had made and since Skipper was merely a tiny puppy, the dog house fit him fine. Skipper didn’t seem at all interested in the dog house, but he loved the dirt! Skipper slept. Skipper was home! He had been born in a barn and had lived on a dirt floor since his birth, so the soft dirt and grass made him confortable. Finally, Skipper felt at home, happy and content.
Walking the Dog
I loved playing with Skipper. I took him indoors and held him in my lap or laid him on the floor and watched him nap. If he was laying on his right side, I could turn him over to his left side and he never woke up! I laughed and laughed at him sleeping so soundly.
I walked my Skipper every day. One day, I took Skipper on a walk around my town. I walked up over the railroad tracks but Skipper was too little to walk over the railroad ties and tracks so I picked him up and helped him across each one. As we walked past the stores downtown Skipper saw himself in the reflection of some of the windows. The windows were long and came all the way down to the sidewalk. He tried to play with the puppy he saw in the reflection because he thought it was another puppy. We walked through the park and saw many trees, flowers, and people walking dogs, the swimming pool with children having fun, swings, slides, ball fields, and the track around the football field. Then we walked back toward home. The walk must have been too long for my little puppy because all at once Skipper lay down and would not get up! He was sound asleep right there on the sidewalk. I tenderly picked him up and carried him the rest of the way home and put him in his favorite spot, under the pine tree.
He was so much fun. He chased me around the yard nipping at the heels of my feet. We wrestled and rolled in the grass. It was exciting to have Skipper as my special friend.
I taught Skipper a few tricks. I would say, “Sit. Sit Skipper, Sit.” Then, I’d firmly but gently push his hind quarter toward the ground into a sitting position and hug and cheer him for “sitting”. It was not long before Skipper sat each time I called, “Sit.” Next, I taught Skipper to “Shake”. Finally, he learned to “Fetch” when I threw something for him to retrieve. On hot days, I’d walk him up to the pond and he would swim to retrieve a stick that I tossed into the water. I liked to take him for bike rides, too. I’d hold the leash and Skipper would trot beside me as I rode my bike.
Eating the Little Dog House
Skipper seemed to grow and grow and grow. He still acted like the tiny little baby puppy that I brought home but he wasn’t very small any more. He wanted me to hold him in my lap like I used to do. When I was out sitting in the lawn chair, Skipper would jump up and curl up in my lap as though he fit. It was so funny because his body barely fit on the chair, with his legs, head and tail spilling over the sides of the chair, squishing me. I’d heartily laugh and hug Skipper as he was still a “little” pup at heart.
Skipper had grown so much that he could no longer fit inside the little dog house. He began playing with it. He rolled it around all over like a bowling ball, as far as his twenty-five foot chain would reach. It must be that he decided he didn’t need it anymore since it was not useful to him any longer; because one day he began eating that plywood doghouse. It only took Skipper about two days and he had eaten that entire doghouse!
Grandpa’s Cedar Dog House
My Grandpa built a cedar doghouse. It was huge! He had over three hundred dollars of lumber in the dog house and it was not easily moved. We traveled to Grandpa’s house and with a lot of help loaded the dog house onto the back of a pickup truck and brought it home to Skipper. It took four men to “push” the dog house off the truck. It landed with a thud, on the ground. It stayed where it landed.
Skipper could not toss it around like he had the small plywood dog house. It was a great dog house for Skipper because he had room to stretch out and lay down in it, if he wanted. Since it was cedar, Skipper never tried to eat it.
Skipper had a good, twenty-five feet long chain so that he had plenty of exercise room under his favorite pine tree and around his cedar dog house.
Breaking the Chains
Skipper grew to be quite large. His chest was very wide and he was a little scary to look at, if you didn’t know him. His deep sounding bark scared away most everyone.
Because of his size and strength Skipper began pulling the chain post right out of the ground. The first time Skipper broke loose from his chain, it appeared that someone had cut the chain. It was not long before Skipper had broken another chain. A farmer friend inspected the chain and stated, “That chain has been frayed apart by the strength and force of your dog’s pull on it.” When I got up one morning to feed, water and spend time with Skipper before school, he was gone! “Skipperrr, Skipperrr”, I yelled. I was frantic! I ran into the house to tell dad and mom and my brothers. “Skipper’s gone,” I wailed. “I can’t go to school! I have to find Skipper!”
My dad drove me around town for a quick look in search of the missing Skipper but we couldn’t find him anywhere. My parents called the police and told them that our dog was missing and that he had a partial section of his steel chain and collar on. We kept his tags in the house so he didn’t have his tags on but described for the police that he is a large, black Labrador retriever and answers to “Skipper”. The police took our phone number and assured us that if they find my dog, they will call to inform us.
I just knew I couldn’t go to school because I was so concerned about my dog but my parents insisted that I needed to attend school. They promised they would call me if any word about Skipper came.
It was so hard to concentrate! I couldn’t stop thinking about my lost dog! I was concerned for him and I missed him. Was he hurt? Was he safe? Did he have food and water? Did someone take him to be their dog? Where is he? Will I ever see him again?
Finally, after that long day in school, the police called and stated that Skipper had been found and was at the veterinarian. The police said that although Skipper was badly hurt, the vet thought he would probably live.
“What happened?” I asked. “Well”, the policeman began. “A call came in from a man, in the south part of town. When he woke up, he was surprised to see a black bear in his front yard. He went to the door and opened it slowly. It was then that he saw the animal was badly hurt. He thought it might be hungry and spoke to it. At that point, he could see that it was a dog and that he seemed to be friendly because he stood and began wagging his tail. The man tossed some food to him and then he called our police office.”
The police man continued, “I traveled out to his home, picked up the hurt dog and took it to the veterinarian. He looks badly hurt but the vet thinks he’ll pull through.”
I asked, “What happened?” “We may never know for sure but we think he may have come in contact with a train. Due to his injuries, it appears he may have been hit by a train. The vet said you can pick him up tomorrow morning. Be sure to take your dog tags along or you will be charged fines.” We thanked the police and although we were relieved to know Skipper had been found, we were very concerned for him.
My dad drove me to the vet the next morning. I was so glad to see Skipper! I was also shocked to see him! He had head and body injuries where his entire hide was ripped away. We showed Skipper’s tags to the vet and then the vet informed us how to care for my dog the next few days. He stated, “Skipper needs to rest and heal. Be sure to give him these medicine tablets with each of his meals for the next several days, let him rest, keep him fed, watered and cared for, as usual. He’ll be back to normal soon.”
Poor Skipper!! What a horrible, terrible experience he must have been through!
Best Friends on Top the Roof
Skipper and I were best friends. We would sit on top of the roof to his cedar dog house and talk and share secrets that only a dog and his friend can do. We would laugh and play. Skipper would chase me and then we’d race to see who could get to the roof first. I learned that no matter how you treat your dog, he always loves you. He doesn’t make demands of you or have expectations of you; he just loves you and loves being with you. That love makes you want to love him even more, to be with him more, to treat him the best, forever. That kind of love creates a dignity that many have never known. It is no wonder that they say “a dog is man’s best friend.”
Skipper was spoiled because when he was hungry about six in the morning, he started barking and I’d jump out of bed, dress with lightening speed, and run out really fast to feed and water him so that the neighbors would not awake. Since my parents home-educated me until the seventh grade, I could go out to spend time with him at lunch time, after my school work was done in the afternoon, after my newspaper route was delivered, after dinner and all evening long, if I wanted.
Skipper had an enemy, though. We had a neighbor who didn’t seem to like boys and in my family, we were all boys including my dog, Skipper! Blustering Bertha had all girls. Even their dog was a girl! Once they got a boy rabbit, until they discovered that the rabbit was a girl too! That was hilarious!! Since our homes were close, sometimes our football would cross the property line and Blustering Bertha would shout, “Get on your own property!” Well, Blustering Bertha didn’t like Skipper, either.
When I was in the seventh grade I started attending a private school and played on our school’s soccer and basketball teams. It was a lot of fun but it caused a lot of problems with Skipper. Since Skipper had been used to having me home in previous years, he became so lonely with me gone all day at school and sporting events. About four o’clock in the afternoon he started barking, hoping that I would come out and play with him, but I was gone at school. Blustering Bertha called the police and reported the barking dog stating that he was woke her up from her nap. Blustering Bertha called the police day after day, and week after week complaining about my dog. Eventually, we knew we had to do something about this problem.
In the end, a farmer friend, decided he would take Skipper. I was so sad to lose Skipper and I mourned his loss and friendship but I was so glad that he would be at a great home for him.
Living on the Farm
Skipper loved living in the country at the farm! I visited him often. I was hired to bail hay for the farmer for several summers so I saw him daily during those times.
When Skipper first moved to the farm he was kept in the barn at night, to make sure he wouldn’t run away. After a short while he ran free and never again needed to be confined by a kennel or chain. He loved his new home but he was so excited when I came to visit him there. One day the farmer was trying to figure out what animal was stealing his very expensive calf feed. He related to his wife that it would have to be a very large and strong animal to be able to pull those fifty pound bags down and tear them open. It was about the same time that everyone began to notice that Skipper had become obviously obese. He had plenty of exercise, regular watering, and feeding. He often enjoyed swimming in the pond at the back of one of the fields. There didn’t seem to be an explanation as to why he was so extremely heavy.
Soon the secret to Skipper’s obesity was discovered. After milking, just as the sun was setting one evening, the farmer noticed that Skipper began walking down a corn row. “That is interesting! I’ll follow him”, the farmer said. He followed far behind so that Skipper would not realize he was being followed. The farmer never expected what happened next! He watched Skipper slowly cross the road over to the milk house and into the barn area where the expensive and, obviously tasty calf feed, was stored. Skipper then did as he had been doing. He pulled one of those heavy bags of calf feed down, tore it open and he treated himself to feast on the calf feed. The farmer could not believe his eyes, but he had finally found the thief of his calf feed.
Skipper on the Lawn
Skipper had become very old. He could not see any longer. He still had the scar from his train accident. Although Skipper was a black Labrador, he had grayed and a lot of his hair was white. It was most painful to watch Skipper walk. Skipper seemed to be in great pain as he walked. Although he could no longer see he could still hear and he communicated his yearning and excitement for my visits.
Most animals hide or go away to be alone, if they are sick. Skipper walked to the farmer’s front lawn, lay down and went to sleep. His memory visited the places and comfort of our times together.