“MY FIRST DOG” BY: NEAL MURPHY
It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend. If that is the case, then it should follow that a dog would be a young boy’s best friend. I am convinced that the best scenario is when a young boy adopts a puppy and they both grow up together. They are companions, pals, and playmates. I can testify that this can be the case.
In the early 1940s in deep East Texas, as an eight year old boy, the good Lord presented me with an unplanned puppy. My father was an avid fox hunter, and he always had several fox hounds in a pen behind our house. I loved those dogs, but they were in reality my dads, and not mine. Somehow it is different when the dog is yours, to love, feed, and care for.
I recall that it happened this way: One day we all heard what sounded like puppies’ cries coming from under our house. After a couple of days, they had become quite obvious, and my dad crawled under our house to check out the noises. He found a stray dog, a female that had given birth to two puppies under the house. She was a stranger to us, but had obviously adopted our house and thus our family to assist her in the rearing of her two offspring.
Being a dog lover, my father allowed the “single” mother to stay with her two very cute, black and white, puppies. She was very protective for several weeks and would not allow any intruders. Finally the day came when the puppies ventured out side and I got my first glimpse of them….and what beautiful puppies they were.
Then suddenly tragedy struck. The mother dog was struck and killed by an automobile on the street in front of our house. Now, we had two orphaned puppies on our hands. They were rather small dogs, both marked identically, except one was slick haired, and the other long haired. Both were black with white markings, and stockings.
I adopted the slick haired puppy and named him “Slick”. My mother fell for the long haired one and named it “Fuzz”. We began to feed and love both puppies and they became attached to us and our home. “Fuzz” stayed with my mother, following her around the house and yard, while “Slick” partnered with me. He was my friend and my buddy for a very long time. He greeted me every day when I got home from school. He romped on my bed with me, and went squirrel hunting and fishing with me. He loved the water, and against my wishes he would jump into the pond when I would go fishing. I was sure that he was scaring off the fish by playing around in the water.
Several years passed and then our neighbor up the street got a large Chinese Chow dog. They kept him in their back yard. He did not like my little “Slick”. One day apparently he wandered up the road and had a confrontation with this large Chow. Of course, “Slick” came out on the losing end of this encounter. When I returned from school I found him lying in our back yard, with numerous bad bite wounds from the larger dog.
I gingerly picked “Slick” up in my arms and took him down to the crib and placed him on a blanket. Then I called my dad at his office and I recall stating that “Slick was either unconscious or dead.” My dad come home immediately and examined my buddy. He had already gone to that large fire hydrant in the sky. We buried him in a corner of the dog pen.
Thus ended several years of partnership between man and dog. Several years later I left home for college. “Fuzz” seemed to miss his brother for a while, but continued to be my mother’s dog. Eventually he suffered the same fate as his mother, he was run over by a car on the same highway and killed. The era of the little black dogs that came our way was ended.
I did not own a dog again until after I was married and had two children. We got a white poodle “Curley”, who was actually my kids’ dog, and he occupied a place in our family for about fifteen years. But, like one’s first love, it was not possible to replace the little “Slick” dog in my heart. After all, we grew up together.