It's been a sad weekend for me, having lost my dog of almost thirteen years that I raised from a pup. Molly was the first dog that I have had that spent its entire lifespan with me, from pup to death, so it is a new experience.
When I was a very young child, our family had a dog, a spaniel of some kind, named Coffee. Coffee was a great little dog who we loved and played with in our large suburban back yard. The only problem with Coffee is that she was very territorial and had a habit of taking a chunk out of the mailman or anyone else who ventured too close. This of course was a problem, and after a few too many bitten delivery men it was decided by my parents that Coffee had to go. Bright and early one morning we all piled in the car to take Coffee to her new home. I was assured that she would be going to a "nice family" and that I needed to stop sobbing. All I know is that we parked in front of a large brick building, and my dad took Coffee in, and returned without her.
Many of the kids on our block had dogs and they were almost all well adjusted to having children around. The one exception was the Johnson's dog named Poyk, who was always chained to a dog house in their back yard. Poyk was a huge beast about the size of a small bear, with fangs like a saber tooth tiger and claws to match. There were stories of horror, of Poyk eviscerating babies, tearing the heads off of grown men, and chasing down women and children to devour them. Terror struck when you heard the shout up and down the street, "POYK'S LOOSE, POYK'S LOOSE!!". Most kids scrambled for cover, running to the nearest shelter, but for those who didn't hear the call or chose to ignore it, their chances of survival were slim. Once my older sister almost didn't make it. She came screaming up to the front of the house, her face and lips drained of color, her long banana curls flailing out behind her with Poyk so close she could feel his breath. We managed to get her into the house with just seconds to spare.
The truth is, I don't know if that dog was really that mean, or if the stories were true. One day I looked at Poyk tied up in the Johnson's back yard and thought he didn't look all that dangerous, so I slowly walked up to him. He looked at me and wagged his tail, so I started petting him and he gave me a lick on the face. I was never scared of Poyk again after that.
That's the great thing about dogs, you can't bullshit them. I always took my cue from Molly, if she didn't like someone, I didn't trust them either. I miss her.