Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Child's First Dog and America's Guest: Excerpt #4, Follow the Dog Home Book

From Bob Walsh (Kevin's Dad):

I’m not sure what my father’s early history was with dogs,
whether he had them growing up. He very well may have,
I don’t know. My sister, Boots, says they first had a Boston
Terrier—but that was before I was born. I just know we
always had dogs in our house.

My first dog was Dee Dee. Dee Dee was short for
her registered name of Dimity Davis. Everybody had a
nickname back then, even the dogs. Perhaps readers can
remember their very first dog and what that dog meant
to them. Dee Dee was a Smooth Fox Terrier mix. She was
a somewhat scruffy and very energetic little pup with an
enormous self-image. She was a little-bit-of-a-thing with
a great heart and huge appetite, which would eventually
be her undoing.

Dee Dee, foreground with me and my family, 1941.
My mother is holding me. My sister, Marie Beth
"Boots", is holding my twin brother, Dick.

Bob Walsh. For almost forty years, Bob Walsh worked in
the pharmaceutical industry before retiring to live the good
life in his early sixties. That means spending time with his
second wife, Mary. Bob married Mary in 1995. She too was a
widow who had lost her spouse. Their extended Brady Bunch
family includes nine adult children and twenty grandchildren.
Regularly by Bob’s side is his ever faithful dog, a Corgi named
Annie. Whether it is building a fly rod from scratch, tying flies,
or four-wheeling into a fishing hole filled with trout, Annie is
often with him.

Dee Dee was rarely far away from my twin brother and
me, unless of course she was foraging for food. She was
affectionate if you entered her space, but more often than
not, she preferred to lie down a step or two away.

“Oh, Dee Dee would often keep an eye on the twins. She
wouldn’t get too close, but if you put a barrier in the way,
she’d get very upset,” my sister Marie Beth (Boots) Hall
would fight. They were hungry and grumpy and would
sometimes take it out on each other. My mother had them
fenced in, inside of a playroom just off the kitchen. Dee
Dee was on the outside. She would cry, whine, and howl
with them. I think the twins’ crying hurt Dee Dee’s ears.
And she didn’t want to be separated from the kids.”

I was too young to remember those moments—or even
that photo of us with Dee Dee on the front stoop of the
house on Atwood Street—but that’s nice to hear now. Not
the crying tales—but the part about how much Dee Dee
loved us. We certainly loved her. Dee Dee had the run of
the house—as long as it was downstairs. My mother didn’t
think dogs should be on beds or upstairs. The upstairs
were for people and sleeping. Outside, though, it was free
rein, and Dee Dee would follow her nose to wherever she
could get a free meal.

*In our next excerpt, where Dee Dee went for dinner, and how we
rounded her up to bring her back home.

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