We are decisively a dog family. My dad had dogs, we had dogs growing up and we all have dogs in our lives as parents. Today is a snippet of those dog tales. It’s still in rough draft form and needs revision… still working on form. But, I’m on a roll with this daily challenge and thought I would submit – as is. I would love to get your feedback.
Dad/Dominick, aka Sonny
There was a quick knock at the door, as the policeman stepped inside. “Good morning. I’m looking for Dominick Tafuni.”
My father stood, arms at his sides, and responded, “I’m Dominick.”
“Do you have a dog named Baby?” Dominick nodded, unable to speak, worried that Baby might have been hit by a car. The officer continued, “I want you to know that Baby bit one of your neighbors, so we are holding him in quarantine.You’ll have to come to the station to get him in a few days.”
The eyes of the 2nd grade class remained on Dominick, until he returned to his seat…
That’s a true story from my dad’s life, circa 1938/1939 in Jersey City. Dominick acquired the stray dog on Thorn Street, where he lived. Although he can’t recall if the police showed up at the house first, before heading to the school, it doesn’t matter. It’s one of those unbelievable moments that would never happen today! Baby returned home, unharmed, and lived out his years until he died of old age. My father loved him dearly.
Fast forward to my childhood, when we acquired Snoopy, a beagle, in honor of everyone’s favorite comic strip canine. Although I was too young to remember, apparently Snoopy wasn’t that friendly, and bit one of us. Not taking any chances, Policeman Frank Maracanda showed up to take Snoopy away to the police farm. I remember staring out the front window as Snoopy jumped into the bag seat. As the police car drove away, I imagined Snoopy’s destination – running in big open spaces alongside horses and other dogs, training for important police work. I’m not sure how old I was when I figured out that “going to the farm” had nothing to do with roaming the land!
When I shared that tale with my daughter and nieces, Kristin, who was 22 at the time, nervously laughed and said. “Hey, that’s what my parents told me about Max,” their very old dog when she was very young, until she suddenly realized, for the first time, what “going to the farm” meant! It’s like discovering Santa doesn’t exist, only you’re eight years-old, not twenty-two!
Dogs Become our Kids
How we acquire our dogs is another story. My grandparents, Italian immigrants, would have never had the money to buy a dog, so Sonny got his off the street. Joey rescues most of his, and Michael has done both. We, on the other hand, chose a different path. When my own children were old enough, my husband and I decided to surprise them with a dog. Keeping it a secret, we picked them up from school and said we needed to head over to the airport to pick up a friend. My son, anxious about strangers, protested not wanting anyone he didn’t know sitting next to him in the car, then proceeded to take off his shoes refusing to head in. Little did he know there was a bigger prize to gain inside.
Once inside, we went to the baggage claim as we were instructed. Shortly after, a man walked by with a dog carrier. I casually said, “There’s my friend.” The response was priceless. Our black lab Angel, short for Moon River’s Sweet November Angel, became our third child, traveling with us on every summer and winter we spent in Maine, and seeing both kids off to college. Putting her down was the hardest thing we had to do, but the most humane. She developed bone cancer at twelve years old… it broke my heart, but she will live in our memories forever.
In mourning over Angel, I reached out to breeders throughout the Midwest, and finally found a puppy in Houston, TX. Instead of having her shipped to New Jersey, my husband and I, like adoptive parents, flew to Houston to pick her up. I felt like Paris Hilton carrying my baby pup in a chic Chanel-like black carrier onto the plane and on the feet by my floor. We named her ahead of time, which is always fun. Her father’s name was The Boss, her mother was Working Girl Trix, preceded by her grandmother’s name, Chorus Girl Lola. There were some heated debates between the following names: The Boss’ Daughter Meadow (NJ “boss” Tony Soprano), The Boss’ Daughter Rosie (NJ’s other boss Springsteen), or Funny Girl Lucy after the infamous Lucille Ball. Girl power won, and Funny Girl Lucy was named.
Although I was looking to replace my Angel, Lucy, nicknamed Lulu Belle, would have no part of it; she’s the complete opposite. While Angel’s name matched her personality, Lucy is as wild, silly and scheming as I Love Lucy! Two months after we brought her home, she showed up unexpectedly while I was stepping off a stool, causing me to trip, fall and break my foot. Three and a half years and four surgeries later, I am still recovering from that injury… literally to this day! But, I love her to death, and despite her rambunctious behavior, I would never think of sending her to the farm!