July 31, 2011

Dog Stories I Told at the Café



While at a local cafe’ my friend and another patron were exchanging dog stories. The following is my contribution to the conversation. The first part of the conversation can be read by clicking on Dog Stories I Heard at the Café

     My friend whom I’ll call Vivian turned to me and said “If you had a pet, you could tell a story too.”

     “I had a Border collie at one time,” I said. “I have stories too.”


     “We acquired Tagalong when her owners needed a place for her while they took an extended trip to Europe,” I said. “Shortly, we were presented with three puppies. We weren’t certain whether she came to us pregnant, or whether she had had an immediate tryst with one of our neighbor’s dogs.

     One of the pups was gorgeous He was adopted by my mother, who loved him dearly.


     “For some reason we didn’t know she didn’t like delivery men, especially the UPS drivers. We had to protect them from her.

     “One time I had to stop her from attacking the mother (I’ll call her Amy) of one of my child care home children. On a bitter, cold winter morning three-year-old Christine decided to have a temper tantrum before she left her home. Amy couldn’t get her winter coat on. Exasperated, she finally picked up the screaming, flailing child and placed her in the pickup truck. Christine was still in the midst of her tantrum when they reached my house. Amy picked her up and set her on the porch, unable to hold her any longer. Christine immediately grabbed onto the porch railing posts. Amy, not wanting to leave the child out in the cold attempted to loosen her grasp. That’s when I noticed Tag. The dog was crouched in the attack position.

     “GO!” I told Amy. “I’ll get Christine into the house.”

     In the nick of time, Amy left. I backed off, realizing that from Tag’s viewpoint Christine was being attacked and needed protection.

     I entered the house, waiting for Christine to calm down. I knew that the cold wouldn’t harm her—her adrenalin was high from her emotional outburst. And Tag was with her, protecting her.

     Watching from the storm door, I saw Christine eventually calm down. I went onto the porch and brought the child, now feeling the cold, into the house. Tag came in too, satisfied all was well.

     A few years later we had a foster infant. I would let her nap outside under a tree, which was set pretty far back from the road. The first time I did this I noticed Tag would position herself beside the carriage—and I knew she was well-protected.


     In 1982 we made a temporary three-year move from Slippery Rock to Atlanta, Georgia. We couldn’t take Tag with us. Fortunately, the family renting our home was willing to rent it with dog. All was well until they purchased a house. They wanted to take Tag with them, but the new tenant (I’ll call him Ted) was willing to rent with dog.

     It wasn’t long before we heard from the residents of an apartment building at the bottom of the hill.

     “Ted isn’t feeding Tag,” they said. “She is down here begging food, so we feed her. You don’t have to worry that she’s being neglected.”

     We were disturbed, but knew Tag wouldn’t be allowed to starve.

     We returned to Pennsylvania, heading to New Castle where my husband’s work assignment was. After seeing our new digs, we went to Slippery Rock to check on Tag and our tenants.

     When we arrived, we discovered immediately what had happened. Tag was now a roly-poly obese dog. She had convinced all the tenants that no one was feeding her, so everyone was.


     The day we discovered Tag’s feeding manipulation was the day she cried. I’ll never forget it—the tears made rivulets through the black fur on her snout.

     Monte and I had decided that since Tag was so acclimated to the Slippery Rock property—it was her home, after all, and she could roam sixty-plus acres—that we would keep her there rather than take her to our suburban digs that had much less land. 

     Tag greeted us with open paws, letting us know not only that she remembered us, but that she missed us. Ted was more than willing to let her remain with him—it was obvious he loved her. We frolicked with her for a while before we had to leave. It was a joyous reunion.


      When we started to get into our car, we heard whines and groans. Tears were falling from Tag’s eyes onto his paws while Ted’s hand gently caressed her neck. It was obvious that Tag didn’t want us to leave her.

     During the conversation in the car we discussed what to do. We

decided that, when we returned to Slippery Rock after unpacking and

settling into our New Castle home, we would try bringing  Tag to live

with us.

     When we arrived, we walked her around the perimeter of the  property. From then on, she traipsed happily on her limited environment. She cuddled with us, sat with us, and didn’t complain about her limited diet. Her weight immediately improved. She became loved by all of us.

     Five years later Monte was reassigned to another community. During this time, Tag grew old. Her time was nearing. She could barely stand, and her arthritis kept her in pain. She grew thin, lost fur. She wandered out of our yard, leaving presents on a neighbor’s well-kept lawn. He came to our door and complained. I nicely explained that she was aging, and if it happened again, someone from our family would clean up after her. He never complained again, even though I am certain Tag’s behavior didn’t change.

     One day Tag disappeared. We searched for her, calling her, with no results. It was twenty-four hours before someone called us to tell us she was in a park down the street. We brought her home and tried to make her comfortable.

     Not long after that she disappeared again, and we were unable to locate her. I felt she had found a place to pass on to a better world. It was sad to move to a new community without her.


    Yes, Vivian, I do have dog tales. Tagalong was a great border collie. My only complaint was her long hair that shed onto everything. May she rest in peace.





The Cat with the Calico Tail





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