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.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just About The Best Dog There Ever Was...And Other Pets We Loved

Every kid should know a dog like Lucky.
A rerun from a couple of years back...

The very earliest memory that I can recall today was a memory of Lucky.  My sister Janet and I were about three years old, so it must have been Christmas of 1959 or 1960.  I was sitting in the chair next to our coal-burning pot-bellied stove, and I was holding this little ball of fur that was licking me on the nose.  I don't know which family member gave him the name of Lucky, but it fit him perfectly.

Lucky was mostly collie, but he also had a healthy mix of other breeds as well.  He was a sweet, gentle soul who would have protected any of us with his very life if the occasion had ever arisen.  His bark was ferocious, but I don't think he ever bit anyone.  But, should a stranger come up on the porch, Lucky announced his presence with a bark that brought the family running.  Lucky would become particularly alarmed when M.C. Maxell would deliver the groceries we had ordered from Robert Davis' grocery store.  M.C. made a lasting friend of Lucky, however, by always bringing along a bone from the store's butcher.

Lucky's favorite activity was to chase rocks.  If you went out on the street and picked up a rock and threw it, Lucky would chase it down, pick it up and drop it, and then turn back to be ready to chase the next one.  He was also very intelligent.  Mama used to laugh when she would tell the story of the time that she had a letter that she needed to get to my Grandmother who lived down the street, so she clipped the letter to Lucky's collar and called my Grandmother on the phone, telling her to call for Lucky.  My Grandmother stepped out on her porch and called Lucky's name, and off he went to deliver the letter.
Lucky, Scooter, and Tom

Another early addition to our lineup of pets was our cat Tom.  My brothers brought Tom home after catching him in some lady's yard.  I remember she had a bunch of cats running wild, and Phil and Gene went up there and came back with Tom.  When we got Tom, he had an open wound on his neck that we referred to as a "wolf."  I've never seen that word used in that context anywhere else, but it was some sort of a parasitic infection, or as my brother Phil refers to it, an "alien life form" living in Tom's neck.  Well, Tom was able to overcome his "wolf" and became a gentle, sweet cat who would rapidly sweep into the house anytime you were too slow in closing the back door.  Tom used to love to sit in the living room and watch TV with us.  Bonanza was a particular favorite of his, I believe.  Tom was afflicted with seizures, however, and it may have been a result of his "wolf."

My Uncle Joe got me my dog Scooter when I was about ten.  I've mentioned Scooter in a couple of earlier posts.  This picture of Lucky, Scooter, and Tom on our front porch is a good one; you can see the sweet nature that Scooter had just by looking at his face.  As I mentioned before, Scooter was killed by a thoughtless man in the neighborhood.  A sad ending to a sweet little dog.
Lucky, Janet, and Puff

Somewhere along about this time, we got an additional cat.  I don't even remember where we got him, but my sister named him Puff.  I always thought it was from the song "Puff the Magic Dragon" that was popular about that time, but I also seem to recall that there was a cat named Puff in the Dick and Jane books that we read at school.  Puff was yellow and white and had absolutely no interest in coming into the house, not even to watch Bonanza.  He got along great with Tom; they were great friends and never fought. 

Skipper was a bit ornery and was known to cause
trouble, but I loved him nonetheless.
And then, Uncle Joe found me another dog.  Skipper was at times a bit of a handful, such as when he would chase motorcycles (his favorite pastime), bite my sister, fight with Lucky, or break his leg (see my post Skipper Breaks His Leg!)  But skipper was my pal, and when I needed time to lie on my back and stare up at the clouds, Skipper was right there with me.  As I've mentioned before, it was generally assumed that Skipper had some emotional problems, but he and I got along just fine.  Not the case with Skipper and Lucky, though.  If they happened to get into an altercation that escalated into a fight, Skipper would not give up.  Even though he was small, he would keep on fighting long after Lucky was ready to quit.  The only solution would be to tie up both Lucky and Skipper to the clothesline, where Skipper would continue to bark at Lucky until he finally got tired of it.  I have a vivid memory of a near tragedy involving Skipper.  One day when I had just walked home from school, I saw Skipper in the yard across the street.  I called his name, and no sooner had I gotten the words out that I realized that there was a speeding pick-up coming up Pine Street.  Skipper, upon hearing my voice, immediately started running to me, unaware of the speeding truck.  I watched in horror as Skipper ran in front of the truck, and as if in slow motion, he turned his head just as the truck was about to hit him and managed to somehow run sideways for a fraction of a second, literally inches away from the front tire.  Needless to say, when he got up to my arms, he got an extra hug from me.
Time out.

By the time my sister and I left for college, the only pet left was Lucky.  His front legs were hobbled by arthritis, so that he ran with a stilted gait, but he would still try to chase rocks.  Even after his eyesight was almost gone, he would listen to the sound of the rocks and try to give chase.  But, his health continued to deteriorate.  One day, when he seemed to having a particular amount of trouble, Mama realized that keeping Lucky alive would be unfair to that great dog.  So, with a heavy heart, she called the vet, and Lucky, at age 17, got to rest.

The story is told of a rainbow bridge, where dogs and cats that have left this life run and play all day.  But they keep one eye on the bridge, and when they hear a familiar voice, they come running to meet the one they love.  I'd like to think that's true.  But even if it's not, I'm sure glad God made dogs and cats.


  1. Comments from Facebook:

    Lydia Blalock Butler I had a dog named Stubbie that would protect me. He nearly tore Frank Hawkins up one time when he walked unannounced into our back yard. Stubbie was my best friend as well. He would walk with me to school and be there to walk home with me during 1st and 2nd grade. He disappeared and I never knew what happened to him. I think he is on that rainbow bridge waiting for me :)
    January 10 at 5:19pm

    Phil Yates I'm sure they were a headache for Mama but our pets enriched our lives greatly. Lucky was a great dog. I remember when Daddy decided to break him from catching chickens...
    January 10 at 9:59pm

  2. I'm kind of hoping all of my various cats will be in Heaven. I'd like to thank them for putting up with me :-)