Dogs I once knew

Opinion: Columns

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By JOHN STANGER

When I was growing up, my family owned three dogs at various times.

Ginger was a pugnacious dog inclined to chase and confront. We had her for only two years because one day she bit my grandmother on the leg, so we gave her to a family friend who owned a farm in McHenry County.

Heidi was a lovable German shepherd who wanted to be a lap dog, but she was too big, so that didn't work out well. I had to teach her to lie or sit on the floor rather than on our laps. I took her for long walks and played with her in our backyard and in her basement living area.

We had her until she died at age 13, and I was always amazed at her alertness and intelligence. She was also a marvelous watchdog.

Prince was a Basenji hound, also known as a barkless dog. However, he did make other sounds that were mostly of a guttural nature. Prince was a playful dog and a good companion to me.

One day, though, he ran out of the house and was struck and killed by a delivery truck in front of our house. Our entire family was deeply saddened by this terrible event.

It was my job to see to the everyday needs of our dogs. Not only did I walk them, but I also played with them, fed them and cleaned them.

The Bournes, who lived behind us, had a Pointer named Pepper. Early each morning, Mr. Bourne would attach the dog's leash to a long wire that allowed Pepper to move only east and west.

Whenever kids came to play in the Bournes' yard, the dog was immediately moved into the house.

Pepper was a lonely dog and howled much of the time because no one would pay attention to him. The Pointer is a hunting dog, but since Mr. Bourne did not hunt, Pepper simply languished during all seasons of the year.

Dr. Grissom, our next door neighbor, owned a Cocker spaniel named Paddy, who had one habit that was irritating. Many times when we played ball in our yard, and the ball went over the fence and Paddy was in the Grissoms' yard, he would retrieve the ball and run away with it and then put it somewhere behind the Grissoms' garage.

Many times Paddy would collect a half dozen balls, but we knew that Dr. Grissom would gather the balls and toss them over the fence into our yard.

The Kings had a Scotch terrier named Mac. Whenever we played baseball on the lot next to the Kings' house, Mac would sit and watch the entire game without leaving his spot, which was out of range of any batted ball.

The people living next door to the Kings had a Great Dane named Norman. This dog was massive with a square jaw and a golden brown coat.

Whenever a ball went into Norman's yard and he was outside, and one of us was brave enough to go after the ball, this huge, overly-friendly dog would knock down the person trying to retrieve the ball and give that person a tongue-lapping. We left many balls in Norman's yard.

I liked all of the dogs that lived by our house, but I never overstepped my bounds and played roughhouse with them.

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