Dog Days of Summer (2)
Memories of the King and his Court
My Dad always seemed to think our family needed to have some sort of a dog around. My Dad didn’t; hunt, didn’t pet, didn’t clean up after, didn’t even particularly like dogs, he just seemed to think kids needed to have a dog.
When my younger brother turned six, Santa Clause brought Smokey into our lives. Smokey was a male basset hound. Long floppy ears, short stubby legs, the snout of a small elephant and the determination of a saint.
Since Smokey was on the shorter side of small, he wasn’t considered the “dominant” anything. Other dogs attempted to bully him. However, attitude plays a great deal when it comes to being a victim or a hero.
Friends who lived a mere ¾ mile trek past two mean territorial German Shepherds who would hide and dart at you barking for all they were worth, over the rickety foot bridge that spanned the channel, past the wirehaired terrier who would bark less than an inch from your legs, around the bend past the beach where who knows what kind of dog was going to be trying to protect its young charge while the kids played in the water, lived with the largest Saint Bernard ever.
The Saint Bernard was king. He had already saved children in the lake. He had already allowed very small children to ride on his back. He had already fought and won a battle with the mean black German Shepherd. He was our HERO!
Trudging up the hill from the public beach to Curley’s Grocery to replenish our candy supply we would see our hero and his trusty sidekick would be laying in the middle of the road; Saint Bernard and Basset Hound, side by side. Folks and animals alike respected them. They ruled!
The Saint Bernard was legend among us kids and by association, so was our Basset Hound. The road narrowed into a small bend just at Curley’s, so the local traffic naturally slowed. Kids darted across the street, hobbling with bare feet from hot pavement to rocky dirt roads. The local traffic naturally slowed. Flat landers slammed on their brakes in utter panic. (flat landers, trunk slammers, fudgies, rubber necks – whatever you prefer to call tourists) The out of towners would rent cabins for a week or a month during the summer and have to learn our customs. One of the most important, don’t run over the local heroes!
Sadly, one winter, the king of the land passed away. Smokey had more than just a little difficulty with this idea of the King not laying at his side. As Smokey trotted to Curley’s he had to traverse the gauntlet which had previously been restrained out of deference to the Saint Bernard. The two German Shepherds bit at him as his slunk past their territory, by swimming across the channel he bypassed both the rickety bridge and the wirehaired terrier, but passing the beach he was open to whatever dog was sent there to keep track of their charges.
Quietly he padded to the bend in the road, just as it narrowed, at the side of Curley’s Grocery store. The out of town driver didn’t see the small Basset Hound laying in the road, trying to keep vigilant observance of the kids. They didn’t realize he was keeping tradition for the King.
I am certain the two best friends are laying at the bend in the road, waiting for all of us kids to join them.