In the Summer, We Go a-Roamin’
My mother referred to our dog Donald as a “rogue,” meaning that in every season, but especially in the summertime, he liked to go tearing through the neighborhood searching for gold.
Or for what passes for gold to a dog: house welcome mats; new, slightly used, or weatherbeaten garden hosepipes, and the occasional pig carcass. These treasures he brought home to us, as if he were a cat catching moles and snakes, and offered to us like these were the measure of his worth.
Oh Donald! You were worth so much more than the $1.95 my parents had to shell out so often to replace the neighbor’s mats and hoses. We never knew where the pig carcass came from and so couldn’t repair that damage. I don’t know how proud Donald was of himself, and though we’d scold and sometimes spank him for his misadventures and miscalculations, our corrections never took.
He was most proud of himself, it seemed, when he’d take a notion to go exploring in the iron ore mines up the hill from us. On these excursions, he’d be gone for days, and just when we’d given up hope that he would ever return, we’d see him crest the hill of the Terry’s house across the street and come charging back into our lives again, only this time, covered in red clay/mud. We’d bathe him and hug him, sometimes in the reverse order, and he’d be ours again, rogue and all.
Donald was a part German Shepherd, part Collie, and part something undetermined. In other words, he was a Heinz-57, as my mother said. Just a lovable, good-natured dog, named after his vet, Dr. Donald Baird, the man who found our Donald, and called us with the news that he had a new puppy for us. We rushed down to his office, and there we saw a black and gold little guy whose nose seemed the best and most pronounced part of him. Dr. Baird pointed out his feet, though:
“Look at the size of them. he’s gonna be a big one.”
Donald came into my life when I was six, just two weeks after our first puppy, Pat, died. My mother and grandmother had surprised me with Pat, a sweet puppy whom Donald resembled, one summer day. I was at home with my little brother Mike, and our maid, Dissie, when my Nanny walked in…