Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cruel Cat, Cruel Kid, Good Trumps Evil! Excerpt from Follow the Dog Home

Excerpt from Follow the Dog Home Book
as told by Bob Walsh:

Smokey would come over when the coast was clear,
sprinkle a couple of drops of tinkle on our grass, and later
watch Poker have fits following his nose. Smokey’s scent
would lead to his back door, and Poker would follow the
trail with smoke coming out of his floppy ears. When Poker
got to the back steps, he’d look up with jowls jiggling and
teeth bared. Smokey only fueled the fire by grinning back
smugly from the safe side of the window’s glass.

“Some day. Some day you’ll get him,” I told Poker over
and over again when it was time to bring him back inside.

Poker loved to be fussed over. When Dad would sit in
his leather chair, Poker would come right over and prop
his head up for petting. With a gentle touch Dad would
stroke the dog from the top of his head and down his back.
Dad would do it until his arm got tired, or Poker would
collapse and fall asleep from the hypnotic repetition.

As much as Poker would strike a pose next to my
father’s chair for the love and attention Dad gave him,
he would do the same for me, as I dabbled in art. Poker
would sit at attention for almost an hour as I sketched his
headshot and bust on a pad. I think his obedience came
from the fact that I would praise him for sitting so still. I
would talk to him about things going on at school and in
the neighborhood as I waved the pencil across the pad.
The end result was something I felt really good about.
Also, I remember the connection we had as much as the
art. We were real pals.

Poker was there for me when my brother Dick and
others weren’t available. Dick had to do a lot of physical
therapy because of the polio. Mom would help him with
that, or simply rub his sore legs.

“With Mom taking care of Dicky, and Al and I being
older and doing our own thing, Bob would sometimes get
the shaft and be lonely,” my sister Boots remembers, “so,
that’s why I think Bob really bonded with Poker.”

I was also taking on more responsibility with the
dog’s care. Mom and Dad did the heavy lifting, but it
was expected the kids would feed the dog when told, or
whenever Poker indicated he was hungry by putting his
paw on my leg and letting out a little whimper.

In 1949, we were in fourth grade. We were ten years
old. There was an incident involving a fellow fourth grader
who was quite large for his age. I vividly remember the big
kid taunting Dicky about his limp and leg brace. He called
Dicky a cripple.

*In the next excerpt of Follow the Dog Home, find out what
Bob and Dicky did to the cruel kid when they caught him, and
what Poker did when the boy's mother came to the
Walsh's home to complain.

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