A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Skipper Breaks His Leg!

Love Always, Skipper
The rest of the family always said that Skipper was emotionally disturbed, and there’s a better than even chance that they were right. I got Skipper when I was about eleven years old, after the tragic death of my dog Scooter (more on that later). My Uncle Joe found Skipper for me, and we were best friends right from the start. He was a mixed-breed puppy (actually, Mutt) with a lot of Fiest in him, which made him a little high-energy. He was black and tan with mid-length hair and a tail that curved up over his backside. As far as the emotionally disturbed part of it goes, he did have a tendency to annoy our great dog Lucky quite a bit, which occasionally resulted in a fight between the two. Lucky would fight until he was ready to quit, but there was no quit in Skipper. Eventually, Mama would have to tie both of them to the clothesline to get them to stop fighting. Now, those fights were rare, but they did happen on occasion.

For some unknown reason, Skipper took a particular dislike to a specific pair of pants belonging to my sister. They were a bright, checkered pattern, as was the style back in the 1960’s, and they reminded me of a pair that I often saw one of our neighbors wearing, so I euphemistically referred to them as Janet’s “Kay Bray Britches.” Skipper evidently picked up on my disdain for this particular article of clothing, because every time Janet wore them, he bit her. No, EVERY time. So, among those questioning Skipper’s mental state, Janet was at the forefront.

Skipper, being a young, unaltered male, often went on what we might call group dates with some of the other dogs in the neighborhood. One evening, when I went out to feed Skipper, I found him in obvious pain, his right foreleg hanging limply. He had gotten into a fight with a bigger dog, and it was obvious that his leg had been broken. I quickly summoned Daddy, who looked Skipper’s leg over and constructed a crude splint which he placed on the damaged leg. After a sleepless night, I hurried outside the next morning to check on Skipper, and found his leg swollen to more than twice its normal size.

We loaded Skipper into our 1967 Ford Custom 500 and headed downtown to the office of Dr. Stubbs, the local vet. It was a Saturday morning, but Dr. Stubbs was there. He examined Skipper and told us we would have to leave him there for the rest of the weekend. When we returned to his office the next Monday, he had me call for Skipper from the lobby, and when he heard my voice, Skipper came trotting out with a clean white cast on his front leg. He was overjoyed to see us, as we were to see him.

We took him home with the instructions to keep him inside the house. Skipper quickly recognized two things: One, he was not an inside dog, and Two, this weird thing on his leg didn’t belong there. We were in school, and Mama was working at the Rock Café, so Skipper was going to have to stay by himself. So, we left him in the house and headed out to school and work.

You can imagine our surprise when we got home from school and found Skipper waiting for us on the porch, his curly tail wagging. He had somehow managed to find his way outside. A quick inspection inside the house revealed how he had done it. There was a bed next to a window in the back bedroom, and the window didn’t have a screen, so Skipper had managed to break the glass and jump through.

The next day, with a piece of plywood over the window, Skipper decided to work on getting the foreign object off his leg. We had gone to school, and Mama was hurrying around getting ready to go to work at the Rock Café, when she entered the living room and saw what she believed to be Skipper’s leg lying in the middle of the living room floor. Taken aback, she examined the object more closely and realized that it was in fact only Skipper’s cast, which he had somehow managed to get off his leg. Hurriedly, she loaded Skipper in the car and hauled him back to Dr. Stubbs, who replaced the cast. Mama brought him back home and went on to work, arriving uncharacteristically late. That evening, we decided to go ahead and let Skipper stay outside, broken leg and all.

Well, Skipper was completely happy outside. As an added bonus, he discovered that he could wind his way through the hedge next to the driveway and remove his cast with only minimal effort. By now, we were used to it, so we would just pull the empty cast out of the hedge and stick it back on his leg. After a few weeks, the leg was healed up and we just left the cast off permanently.

Skipper’s leg didn’t seem to bother him much after that. However, when my Aunt Lola would come down, she would get a kick out of giving Skipper sympathy over his leg, talking to him and repeatedly mentioning his leg until he would invariably raise his “injured” leg off the ground, holding it in mid-air which sent Lola into peals of laughter that could be heard all over the neighborhood. Lola knew how to laugh, and she didn’t hold back. She had the kind of laugh that just made you feel good, and she always got a good laugh over Skipper and his pitiful leg routine.

Skipper, my good and faithful dog, lost his life on December 5, 1973. He was run over up on Featherston Street. I took it hard, but we’d had lots of good days together. As I said earlier, I got Skipper after my previous dog Scooter died. When Scooter was killed it was a tragedy, but it was almost a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. But that's a story for another day.

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