Thursday, March 18, 2010
Pete the Dog
This woman of many words has had a brain freeze the past few days. I decided to try to get some creative inspiration by perusing my mom's photo albums. It worked! I have ideas for several upcoming posts which I will enjoy, and hope you will, too.
I am not a person who has an instant love affair with four-legged furry creatures. I have only been truly enamored of 2 pets in my past - both dachshunds when I was an adult. The pets we had as kids were a part of the family, but not a huge part of my life.
Pete was an amazing animal, though, and deserves to be memorialized in this fashion. He came into our family as a tiny puppy, a German Shepherd/Collie mix, named by my dad in honor of a dog from his youth.
Pete was a very smart dog. When we three older kids were in school, the youngest brother at that time was home with his pal, Pete, all day long. Mom says that Pete spent his days guarding brother Dwight from any harm, pacing up and down the sidewalk, making sure he didn't go into the street or suffer any other calamity.
One night someone came to the door, asking Dad, the young pastor, for a ride. Apparently this happened quite often. Dad left, telling Pete to protect the family. Mom says Pete paced from the front door to the back all evening until Dad returned.
This all happened in Arkansas, but the day came when Dad took a pastorate in northern Minnesota. We all piled into our station wagon, 4 kids, pregnant Mom, and Dad - hauling a one-wheel trailer behind us. In the car with us was the pet cat, which really surprises me since my dad is noted for his lack of love for cats. In the trailer was the large doghouse that you can see in the background of the above picture. Pete rode all the way from Arkansas to Minnesota in that trailer - amazing when you think about it! One gas station stop left an indelible memory - as we all kind of popped out of the car when the door opened, the attendant (yes, that was in the days when someone actually filled your car, checked your oil, and cleaned your windows) looked at the menagerie and quipped, "Where's the pony?"
When we got to our new home, a tiny little apartment attached to the back of the church building (Mom's roast beef Sunday dinners had everyone's mouths watering before the end of Dad's sermons as the aroma wafted into the sanctuary), we squeezed in as tightly as we had in the car! All 4 of us kids had to sleep in the same room, with chests of drawers dividing the girls' space from the boys'.
Dad unloaded us with the few things we'd brought with us, rented a truck, and headed back to Arkansas to move the majority of our belongings In those days you had to return a rental truck to the original site. Sadly, Pete disappeared shortly after he left. I remember as if it were yesterday the night that all of us were very upset about his absence. We were in the kitchen, surrounding Mom, crying, and praying for Pete. I can't remember if it was that night or the next day, but it wasn't long before Pete was scratching and barking at the back door, wanting to come in from the cold Minnesota winter. It seems evident that he had headed back to Arkansas, based on the appearance of his paw pads. It's amazing to me to this day that he found his way back to the place we'd only lived in for a couple of days.
Unfortunately, Pete had to stay outside, tied to a chain. Obviously, there was no room in this tiny apartment, and there was no such thing as a fenced yard. He stayed in the back yard, close to the alley where kids walked on their way to school. Many of these kids delighted in taunting and tantalizing Pete as they passed our yard. He would strain at his chain, barking at the kids. They'd get as close to him as they could and harass him.
Pete, as I said, was very smart. He figured out a way to make the chain look like it was taut so that the kids came closer, thinking they were safe. He lunged at one of them, grabbing his arm or hand. Fortunately, it was winter and the kid was protected with heavy clothing. But we knew that Pete's time of living in town was over. This town was much different from the little one in Arkansas where we lived. Somehow Dad found a sheep owner who needed a good dog. We heard as time went on that Pete turned out to be the best sheep dog he'd ever had. I know he was happier in the country, away from those ornery kids.
The story has a rather sad ending when he was killed by a car on one of those country roads. But he had a life well lived.