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Posts Tagged ‘Labrador retreiver’

I was sixteen when we settled in our house in Scrambletown, Florida, and probably in college by the time my family acquired another dog. They owned a series of them, including Rattler, Dammit, and some whose names I have forgotten. My little sisters (I won’t mention any names, but you know who you are) immortalized three dogs in a little skit they’d perform for the family. The girls would march onto the stage on all fours and chant:

We’re three dogs. Ruff, ruff, ruff.

My name is Speckles.

My name is Blackie.

My name is Jake.

We’re three dogs. Ruff, ruff, ruff.

After this, they would exit on all fours, keeping in step.

Speckles was white with black spots and Blackie was, of course, a white dog.

I finished college, moved on with life, and became a mere visitor to the homestead. Whenever I arrived, my family’s dogs never greeted me with hostility. They might bark to let everyone else know someone was there, but they seemed to sense that I was not an intruder, that I somehow belonged.

Duke was Dad’s special dog, his companion. Duke was a black Labrador, very intelligent and talented. He could climb trees–can you imagine a large black dog halfway up a live oak tree? Although Dad was not a biker, he had a motorcycle that he’d ride around for fun and into the woods to check his beehives. Duke would ride behind him on the bike. Somehow, he could balance and hold on. That was a sight to see.

Duke on a ladder

I couldn’t find a picture of Duke on the motorcycle or in the tree, but here he is climbing a ladder. He could climb down, too.

Dad’s last dog was a Rottweiler named Bee Bear. Actually she was half Lab, but she looked full Rottweiler. My only previous experience with a Rottweiler was brief and unpleasant. One day as I returned to my car in a parking lot and started to open the door, I heard a vicious snarling that made me recoil with alarm. A Rottweiler sat in the passenger seat of the car beside me.  He was probably only protecting his owner’s property, but if not restrained by that closed door, I think he would have attacked me. Upon reflection, I sure the poor dog had been mistreated because his reaction to me was brutal, not a mere territorial barking.

On the contrary, Bee Bear was a sweet, gentle dog. Only her appearance was fierce. I was never afraid of her. Dad took Bee Bear everywhere with him. She rode on the back of his truck on trips to Arkansas and other places. No one would bother his truck as long as Bee Bear sat there! Dad was not a cat person. He’d tell Bee Bear that a cat was a bear, and she would chase the cat, but I don’t think she ever harmed one.

Bee Bear and girls

This is Bee Bear with some of my nieces. These are not the girls who performed “We’re Three Dogs,” but are the offspring of one of them. (I still won’t mention any names.)

I remember when Bee Bear passed away. She was quite an old dog. It was Dad’s 80th birthday. Every one of his children surprised him by showing up at the farm in Arkansas. Even my sister Lorraine flew in from Djibouti. But Bee Bear was dying that day. Sadly, she died on his birthday, but at least he had family around. We buried Bee Bear in the back yard and my bother Ed, who is a preacher, gave a brief service over her grave. Surrounded by all his children, I think Dad had a good day despite his grief.

The last dog my parents owned was Valerie, a tiny part-hound who was terrified of thunderstorms. She would whimper and hide under the desk, and no one could comfort her. After my father died, Valerie was caught harassing the neighbor’s livestock, and she had to go. My mother is not a dog person.

Next week I will write about dogs I owned in my adult life.

(PS If you look for Scrambletown on a map of Florida, you won’t find it. It’s one of those places with no legal designation, but it has a colorful history. Google “Scrambletown” and you can find out how it earned its curious name.)

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