An excerpt from Follow the Dog Home book as told by Bob Walsh:
When summer ended, we returned to our new home
on Cornell Avenue in Warwick, Rhode Island, where we
lived for a year. We still made frequent trips to Momma
and Poppa Mac’s in Providence, and Dee Dee always
came along. Dee Dee and Poppa Mac got back into their
familiar routine, walking together to the shipyard.
When we weren’t visiting my grandparents, Dick and
I spent a lot of time playing with Dee Dee on the lawn of
our new home on Cornell Avenue.
Our new neighbors noticed us and most were quick with kindness.
Dee Dee, ever the beggar, found new folks to feed her. And if they
weren’t willing, she’d help herself to whatever was in their
Dee Dee, circa 1941
One neighbor, an elderly man who lived diagonally
across the street watched us regularly from a distance. He
had evil in his eyes and darkness in his heart. It wasn’t just
us. He hated all of the neighbors and their dogs. He was
quick to scold when balls bounced near his property. He
also chased dogs away with a bark of his own and a jab with
his cane. The old codger wasn’t just cruel, he was crafty.
One particular day we saw Dee Dee over on his property
munching away on food that had clearly been left for her.
Dee Dee never returned. A few days later, my mother
and sister went looking for her. They came home looking
as if they had seen a ghost. I asked what was wrong, but
they said nothing. Later Mom said Dee Dee had gone to
visit Momma and Poppa Mac, but never made it back to
the house on Benefit Street after seeing Poppa Mac off to
work. It was all so mysterious.
Dick and I were very sad. Our third wheel was gone
and we missed Dee Dee terribly. We speculated amongst
ourselves that she might have been kidnapped, or run
over by a truck.
“That’s not what happened,” Boots reveals sixty-five
years later, “she was poisoned. That evil man across the
street poisoned her. We found her body in an empty lot
about three houses away. There was a trail of vomit that
led right to the old man’s house and what was left of the
Hearing the revelation floored me. If we knew what
happened and had clear evidence with poisoned meat and
an unapologetic man grinning back at us, why didn’t we
tell the police about it?
“Because there was so much going on back then with the
war,” Boots says, “people were busy just trying to get through
the day and often without fathers and husbands around.”
As tough as losing Dee Dee was on me, it hardly
compared with losing my best friend in the world. That
would come several months later under different, but
similar, circumstances. The vehicle that drove our family
loss came unexpectedly. There is never a good time for the
kind of news I’m about to share, and it came at a time in
our family when we were finally together again.
*Find out what happened to Bob's other best friend in the next excerpt from the book, Follow the Dog Home.