Eler Beth and I were talking recently about pets, and I was trying to remember when was the earliest I could recall having a pet, or the earliest pets I could remember.
There's Bub, of course. Bub belonged to my Grandmother Dowell whose house was almost directly across the road from ours. He was long-haired, mostly white with some light brown patches. My memory of him is that he was kind of medium to medium-large, but I was pretty little, so that memory could be skewed. I'll have to see if I can find a picture of him. I don't know where she got him, or if he actually belonged to my Uncle Harlan, one of my Dad's bachelor brothers who lived with Mamaw Dowell until she died. I'd say he was a collie/shepherd mix, with who knows what else thrown in.
He loved Mamaw and would walk with her over to our house and back when she was still feeling up to walking over by herself. He was very, very protective of her. He would also meet me in the drive when I was allowed to walk over to Mamaw's by myself (with Mom watching, unknown to me), and he'd walk me home. He always seemed to know when Mom was frying chicken or baking biscuits, and he'd wait at the back door for a hand-out.
I think his real name was "Whitey," but at some point he became just "Bub." He was a sweetie and loved kids. And if someone said to him, "Awww, poor old Bub," in a slow, sorrowful drawl, he'd lie down on his side and make a sound between a whine and a howl that sounded for all the world like he was saying, "AwWwwW." And then of course he'd get a belly rub. I don't remember when or how Bub died, but I'm pretty sure it was from old age, and it was after my Mamaw died in 1970.
Another dog I can remember from my early childhood was my sister P.J.'s dog, Duke. He was a Rhodesian Ridgeback, smart as a whip, and loyally in love with P.J. He would do anything for her. I think she had him before and after she was married, and as she married when I was about 5, I was probably pretty little when she first got him. I can remember him knocking me down one time, accidentally, and licking my face, and I said to him, "Aw, dawdie! Aw, Doot!" And that became a family story. I must have been pretty little if I couldn't pronounce doggie or Duke correctly, but I can remember it well. I was standing at the back door, waiting for someone to open the door for me, and when they opened it, Duke ran in and knocked me down. I wasn't really mad at him, though. He was a sweetie too.
The third dog I can remember from when I was really young was Honey. She was honey-colored, small to medium, and that's really all I can remember about her, except that she was my sister Barbara's dog, and Barbara told me she'd share her with me. So Honey was my very first dog. The only other thing I remember about her, though, was that she got hit by a car, and we buried her directly across the road in what we called "the sand banks." Over the years a lot of our fur babies were buried there. Barbara put up a wooden marker for her and engraved her name on it. For many, many years it stood there, weathered but stuck tight, and you could still make out the letters spelling "Honey" when I was a teenager.
Then there was Jo Jo. He was sort of my dog, too. He belonged to my Dad's youngest brother, my Uncle Leonard. Uncle Leonard and his family moved into Mamaw's house after she died, and Uncle Harlan bought and moved into a mobile home and set it up on acreage he owned directly across from Mamaw's house (which he also owned), and next to my Dad's property. Jo Jo had a habit of coming over to our house too. He was a standard poodle mixed with something that gave him some weight to go with his height. His hiar was solid black with lovely curls hair that were never clipped. I don't know why Uncle Leonard gave him to me, but he was technically the first dog I ever owned on my own. I have no idea what happened to him, though. Perhaps he just died of old age. I didn't have him long, and I don't remember grieving for him, but perhaps I did. Honey's death is really the first pet death that I can remember being aware of.
Well, anyway, those were the dogs of my extreme babyhood and youth.