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The Dogs of My Childhood December 6, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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With a hat tip to the very funny Liars & Lunatics for the idea …

What a nice thing to write about – the dogs you remember from your childhood … and bearing in mind the few I’m going to relate to you now, it’s surprising that I didn’t develop a rabid fear of all things canine – just the opposite in fact.

The only pet we had at home when I was a kid was a small goldfish called Jaws (!) – we had the same pet for the whole 17 years I lived at home – and a lá Trigger’s sweeping brush in Only Fools and Horses, we only changed the bowl 4 times and the fish just 6 !

My favourite dog when I was a kid was Blackie. Blackie lived up the road and was the dog of our neighbours and friends – he’s sit there every morning and evening waiting for us on the dog sized doorstep which was right on the sidewalk and wag his tail at you whenever you passed. We used to feed him biscuits which might have contributed to the fact that he never got off his arse to play with us – just waited to be fed. It might have also contributed to the fact that he died one day, suddenly, much to the disappointment of our school going coterie. You can still see his outline, worn into the granite step.

Further up the street was a vicious Kerry Blue called Satch. What kind of name is that ? Anyway, Satch was the successor to an equally vicious but non-moving dog called Prairie who guarded the same house. This house was at the top of our road before you turned for school and for the 5 years of my elementary school education we walked past one of these dogs each day … you could be assured of a nice leisurely walk home if Prairie and later Satch were not on their doorsteps … otherwise you had to keep your wits about you or you might get eaten alive ! Or so we thought, as both dogs were properly tethered to a gatepost and were only prone to serious barking and mock running towards us if they thought they could have some fun doing it !

They used to mess with our heads big time … I still remember the collective sigh of relief that went around our small village (350 people small !) when we learned Prairie had cashed in his chips … it didn’t last long however as Satch arrived soon after – and soon enough after that he was put down I think, for fighting with other dogs.

Further up the road, the school caretaker lived in a small house about 400 yards from the school gates – and he had a Yorkshire Terrier called Blaze. A rather inappropriate name for an annoying little shit of a dog who just barked for a living. Terriers love causing trouble and will bark at the drop of a hat – at falling leaves, at wind, at cars, especially at other dogs … so when Satch or Prairie started off around the corner, Blaze would be listening and there would follow a chorus of doggy barks all the way to school. Blaze, thankfully was never let out or woe betide anything that came near her.

After school was done for the day there were new dogs to contend with – the lazy ones who hadn’t been out at 8am that morning !

Satch and Prairie were gone at that hour – probably to annoy some other poor children – and once Blackie was passed and petted and fed there was Bella. She was the oldest and fattest labrador dog we had ever seen and she was grey in places … however she was more active than Blackie but looked like she would keel over at any moment. She didn’t really like the brand of biscuits we brought for Blackie and looked more like she’d been used to chicken stew and beef wellington ! “Pffff”, she’d mutter as she turned up her dry nose at our coconut creams “will these kids ever learn ?”

Our most favourite dog to rile and annoy was definitely Tom. Great name for a dog – just Tom and it so suited him – a dirty, white Scottish Highland Terrier. The three houses before ours in the little terraced row with whitewashed walls all had dogs and we didn’t. I remember Tom for two reasons – we thought it odd and great at the same time that Tom had white dog poo ! It must’ve been his diet but no other dog in the street had such excretions ! The second reason is that Tom howled – and not just any old doggy howl – he howled like an owl – and a drunken maniac owl at that. He’d sit on the houses’ pillar and the minute we came along he would start … much to the annoyance of his owner who would often run and make a wild swish at us with her kitchen broom.

Prince, our elderly next door neighbours dog was the only one who ever bit me and it was funny because I used to walk him and feed him and he knew me the best out of all us kids. One day when I had passed him by and was just at our gate, I felt his teeth sinking into my calf and yelled out at the sharp pain … my father wanted him put to sleep immediately but I wouldn’t hear tell of it – besides he was our neighbour’s only companion … the word from our neighbour (a real character) was that “my leg must’ve fallen into his mouth” – I’ve never told anyone that before today …

One by one the dogs died and more came along but it’s funny the ones you remember and the ones you liked or feared. Now we’ve got Molly – a sad eyed rescue dog who knows just how to play her cards right. Sure beats a goldfish !

A Stony Pier October 4, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, Poetry & Humor.
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A Stony Pier …

by The Rambling Man

At the end of a stone built pier, I see myself
standing – and I watch the choppy water surround laughing, splashing friends …
Remember the many times I jumped. And now the same
gnarling hive rises in my belly, as it did when mid air then,
only being vanquished when I breached the surface
Realising I could swim; and well at that.

Those were days of carefree, although we didn’t know it,
of jumps and somersaults and cries of “Did you hit the bottom?”,
Whether I sank or swam or drunk a gulp of salted (oily) water
home was but a few damp strides away …

And now I a man, and standing yet on that pier’s edge
wondering what bottom will I hit, or should I jump at all ?
Home will be no longer, short strides along the winding road …
I’ll jump I think and take the salt that this new land(ing) brings
and all that comes with, or doesn’t, or gets left behind …
For I can swim, you see; and well at that.