|Sooner, Aug. 1958|
11917 Garfield Rd.
Hiram, Ohio (our home)
Sooner--a mixed sort of terrier breed (Dad always said he was a Heinz: 57 Varieties!)--was not "my" dog really. Or my brothers'. (And certainly not Mom's!) He was Dad's. Dad had a way with animals that puts Dr. Doolittle to shame. Was it his boyhood on an Oregon farm? Or were animals just able to see in him a gentle soul?
A gentle soul, who, yes, liked to hunt. He always came home with rabbits or quail. And I wonder if they simply sacrificed themselves to him, knowing that he'd treat them with respect?
Anyway, Dad could calm a roaring dog that would have eaten me. Birds and squirrels ate out of his hand. That sort of thing.
We acquired Sooner as a puppy when my Osborn grandparents found him whining at their door (1609 E.. Broadway Ave.; Enid, Oklahoma) and drove the dog to 4242 W. 13th. St., Amarillo, Texas, a couple hundred miles away, where we were living during the Korean War. Dad, a chaplain, had been called back to active duty and was serving at Amarillo Air Force Base.
(I just checked: It's 259 miles, door to door.)
I spent all of 2nd grade in Amarillo, part of 3rd, before the war ended, and we moved back to Enid. So I was 7, 8 years old when we acquired that little pup that grinned his way into my heart--though he would obey me only when no one else was around. I was not the alpha male, not then (not now).
But I did love that dog. Sometimes he would follow me to school (I always walked--all the way through high school). He hated cats, feared nothing, would roll over and grin for Milk Bone dog biscuits. He was an "outdoor" dog--spending the nights in our basement in Hiram, where he soon cleared out all the vermin.
I've written about Sooner's exploits earlier (and will write more another time), and I want to focus on what happened this morning.
Sooner died when I was early in high school (10th grade, I think). So he'd been with us about a dozen years. I wept relentlessly.
And this morning, when I saw that Sooner-clone tugging at his leash (our Sooner despised the leash; we rarely used one), well, my heart suddenly surged ... could it be? ... and then, realizing it could not be, I slumped in my chair. And, sixty-five years later, the tears returned.