The Dogs of McIntosh

I don’t remember why we got a dog or where we got her from. We called her Lady, because she was a girl dog. Girl dogs have baby dogs, if you don’t get them fixed. Back then there wasn’t a lot of fixing going on, not like today. One time, on the way to the corner grocery store, I saw two dogs humping. It wasn’t like one dog mounted on the back of another. I think they had already done that part and one of the owners was trying to separate them. It looked like they were stuck butt to butt.

The owner dowsed them with a bucket of water and they came apart. On the way home from the store I passed the neighbors house, where the little wiener dog lived. It made me wonder how a wiener dog might accomplish the task with a normal sized dog.

Our new dog, Lady, was a barker. I guess she was being protective. As far as I know she never bit anybody, though one time we did have someone knock on our door, with a complaint about the dog and said we should keep her in our own yard. Back in those days many dogs just ran free, roaming the neibourhood, making friends, finding stray bits of food to supplement their diet. Also if you let your dog free to wander, you didn’t have dog crap all over your yard. Boulevards, gutters and open front yards could be littered with animal feces. I had to clean it off the bottom of my sneakers more than once. It was the worst, if you stepped in dog shit on the way to school. Despite however much you could scrape off with a loose twig, try to rub it clean on the grass, you could end up sitting through the day with a horrible stink emanating from your desk, with all the eyes of your classmates glowering, scorning, humiliating you and finally stating the obvious, “you stink”.

Lady wandered, and though I never personally observed her in the act of coitus, we knew she had done the deed when her teats began to fill. And one day, just like that, we had a basket of puppies.

Once their eyes opened and they had grown a bit, mother assembled us to take this photograph. The angel monster thought it was fun but I had a sulk on because I had been called away from something more important, like playing with my Johnny Seven. Father is wearing the silver watch I earned from signing up new customers on my Star Weekly route from Calgary. He had pawned the gold fancy watch that mother gave him as a Christmas present, and since I was just a kid, I didn’t get to keep my own watch.

The light brown puppy leaning on my hand we named Wolfie. The darker brown one on the right we named Tiger. The black one with the white stripe down the middle of his face we named Big Deal, because he was much larger than all the others. A huge goiter grew on his neck, nearly the size of his head. One day Lady bit it and gunk drained out and he was good to go. The other three puppies were all black and looked the same. I don’t remember if we gave them names. They looked like three different sets of puppies. I wondered if there had been more than one doggie father. Perhaps Lady had been slutting around town when she was in heat.

Before we moved again, I went with my father when we took Lady and five of the puppies to the ‘dog place’. Lady was put in the office. I saw her looking up quizzically as if she was wondering what was going on. The man told his assistant the puppies could go for adoption and ‘this one’, he pointed to Lady, ‘is PTS’. I didn’t figure out what that meant until I was grown and it came to me out of the blue one day.

We kept Wolfie and he came with us on a future journey, which I will tell you about later.

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