Jerry's View: Is there a dog heaven?
Mack, my beautiful Border Collie was actually my second dog. I had "Boots" a mutt of mixed breed who we lost in a horrific traffic accident near Astoria, Oregon in 1927. Dad's car was cut in half by a wayward driver, in the rain. Boots was riding with me and my baby sister Norma, in the back seat. The car was cut in two with both halves ending up on the side of the road. The chassis just split, leaving us sprawled up in the back half, unharmed. Mom and dad were up front, also basically unharmed. Boots was gone, never to be found.
Months later we got Mack. A wonder dog who was quite smart. I don't recall how we got him but he was already grown up when he appeared at our door step. In those days, there may have been more stray dogs than people, so it was easy to adopt a pet simply by leaving a dish of food out on the porch. Maybe Mack was a visitor who stayed. We loved him and he loved our stray cat, Nicodemus "cheesebomber". Aptly named as it had the peculiar habit of passing gas on a constant basis, possibly because we often fed it table scraps, including moldy cheese.
I had Mack well into my teen years and moved away to work and get married. I don't know what happened to Mack. Mom and dad took care of him by then but Nicodemus was not so lucky. We entered ourselves in the local pet parade down Vancouver Avenue in 1932. We put a slip knot around Nic's neck and took him along as our pride and joy. Mack was busy hunting gophers in the woods across the street from our house or we would have taken him too.
The parade had barely begun. We were in the middle of the pack, practically dragging Nic through the streets. Our slip knot turned out to be a poor idea. We did not realize we were strangling the cat with every tug on the leash. If there was a prize for dumb, we would have won. By the end of the parade, Nic was nearly blue in the face. If he didn't have fur, we likely would have noticed it. He was wobbly, but okay and deserted us the moment we got back home. I don't think he came back. He probably found another house where the kids were smarter than us.
I got married in 1942 and moved into a small house in McMicken Heights. One afternoon a wonderful Collie showed up in our neighborhood. My wife Lee was a sucker for a hungry dog. She put out a bowl of food. The dog stayed. We named him "Skipper" until she gave birth to McTavish and other pups a few months later. Someone who previously owned the dog must have known and dropped her off in our neighborhood. Skipper and McTavish were our two dogs until we moved to Beverly Park. We could not take them both. We opted to give Mctavish away to a neighbor in McMicken and kept Skipper.
Some years later we lost Skipper. Son Tim was devastated so Lee took him to the dog pound. Not to leave him there but to find another dog. Tim picked out a cute Terrier mix with soft black and white curls of hair. He was just a pup but so was Tim. It was a match.
Settling on a name was not easy. Lee liked "Richard" and Tim liked " Tiger". A compromise was reached by using both names. Richard-Tiger was welcomed into the family. As a sporting guy I often liked to go bird hunting. My preference would have been to use an English Pointer or similar but opted to rent Richard-Tiger from Tim. Richard was an excellent bird dog if you like your dog to scare the birds hundreds of feet ahead where you don't have a ghost of a chance of hitting them with buckshot. When Richard-Tiger did manage to stay close and scare up a pheasant, I got off a good shot, hitting the bird. It fell a short distance away. Instinctively Richard-Tiger found the bird but instead of dutifully bringing it back to me, he opted to gnaw on it for a few minutes as if wrestling with a ball of socks. The bird was partially shredded when I finally got there. In spite of his tendency to chew rather than retrieve, we loved that dog none the less.
Cars and dogs don't mix. Richard-Tiger was not a car chaser but was hit by one a few years later. Lee opted to find a new family pet ending up with a pedigree Basset Hound we named Charlie Brown. Maybe it was after the famous cartoon character but the name seemed to fit. Charlie was a terrific slouch of a dog. His baggy eyes drew you in. The floppy ears and loose coat were fine for a hunting breed. I took him out hunting. Charlie was not the brightest dog in the field. If he could find a thistle field or some thick brush, he'd make his way through and come out the other side with burrs, seed pods and stickers clinging to his fur. It is why his skin was so loose, A perfect breed for snooping in the brush but we'd never call him a bird dog. He was a sloppy drunk, on some occasions being brought home from a bender of saucer beer, by the local deputy who found him at the Flame Tavern near 128th and Ambaum.
Charlie waddled away one day, never to return. We only know we loved him while we had him.
Silky was our next family dog, a pedigree West Highland Terrier, pure white with a jumpy nature. He liked to jump up and sit in our laps. Small dogs are fun for kids and Silky was no exception. We eventually moved to Shorewood, taking Silky with us. We know dogs don't live forever and he must have known that too. He wandered away and out of our lives.
Daughter Carla had graduated high school and acquired our next dog. A classic Dachshund. A "weiner" dog. Tessie was her dog until she moved into an apartment that did not allow pets. We cared for Tessie for a few years. A bit "yippy" but friendly enough. She gave birth to a half dozen more weiners a year or so after Carla had left her with us. We managed to give away all the pups and had Tessie fixed by the Vet.
Our love of dogs continued when we moved to Burien a few years later. Carla had a new dog by then but again, needed to leave her dog with us. Smokey, so named because of his dark coat with a hint of brown and gray, became the family dog who helped us cheer on the Mariners or Seahawks or Huskies. Regardless, he often sat with us. If the team was close to a victory, we would keep Smokey in our lap, afraid to let him move away which might hex the team and cause us to lose the game.
We know it was a superstition and we also know our sports teams have done quite well even though it has been years since we had Smokey. We can't help but think that somewhere in dog heaven, Boots, Mack, Skipper, Mctavish, Richard-Tiger, Charlie Brown, Silky, Tessie and Smokey are there playing together, thanking us for sharing our lives with them. Even Nicodemus, in spite of his bad habit.