Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

My 'Almost' Pet. And My Dad


Daddy and Me. And George. I'm the one with the curlers in her hair . . .
I like dogs.
If I had to state a preference, I would have to admit that I favour big, hairy ones.
Even if they slobber.
But, truth to tell, I like all kinds.
Pointy. Fuzzy. Smooth. Dreadlocked. Naked. Huge. Tiny. Rat-sized. Medium. Purebred. Heinz 57.
If it resembles a dog in any way, I’m well on the way to being smitten.
And I’ve always been this way.
Dad can tell you.
In the past, if any member of the ‘doggy’ fraternity crossed my path, I was ready to welcome it with open arms.
Literally.
And therein lies a tale . . .
I was playing with my friends on the school playground.
I’m not sure what we were playing, probably something noisy.
And dangerous.
But I digress . . .
A dog wandered into our sphere.
A black and tan dog.
Thin and wasted, with the worst case of ‘post nasal drip’ I had ever seen.
But with long, silky hair and beautiful, but sad, teary brown eyes.
I loved him.
He would be mine.
And, my dad was a vet.
He could fix my new best friend!
I clutched a handful of hair, just behind the dog’s head, and led him to my house, two blocks away.
The rest of the kids followed.
Because.
We were an ‘in the moment’ crowd. What can I say . . .?
It took a long time, with frequent stops for my new friend to rest, but finally, we arrived. My Dad met my dog and me as we came up the drive, followed by the rest of the neighbourhood.
“Umm, Diane? What’s going on?”
Dad was used to me. If I detected a trace of hesitancy, that’s probably because he had learned to view anything I did with . . . hesitancy.
Smart man.
I looked up at him expectantly. “Daddy! This nice doggy is sick!”
“Umm, yes, I can see that . . .”
“Fix him!”
Dad glanced at the dog. Then he looked at me.
I put on my most endearing face.
At least, that’s what I was going for.
He knelt down.
Yes!
He looked the dog over. “I’m afraid he’s really sick, Honey,” he said.
“I know. Fix him!”
He sighed and stood up. “Wait here a moment.”
I turned and grinned at the other kids. See? My Dad could do anything.
Dad came back with a syringe filled with something . . . fixy.
He injected the dog and patted it on its droopy head. “There. That’s the best I can do.”
I looked at the dog. It wagged its tail slightly. See? It was better already.
“Can it come and play with us?”
“I think the best thing would be for it to rest here in the garage.”
“Umm. Okay.”
He helped me lay out a blanket and settle my doggie on it comfortably. Then he closed the garage door and told us to let him rest.
We did.
I peeked in through the garage window a couple of times.
It was easy enough if I dangled from the clothesline just outside.
But my little friend just lay there on the blanket.
Getting better.
The next morning, I leaped out of bed and charged down the hallway, on my way to see my new friend.
My Dad met me at the door.
“Oh, Diane, your doggy is gone.”
“Gone? Where?”
“His family came and got him.”
“Oh.”
I was sad, but I knew that Dad had injected him with just the magic elixir (yes, we used that in the 50’s) that would heal him entirely. And thoughts of my doggy running and playing with his family cheered me.
All was well.

There is an addendum . . .
I was visiting with my Dad last night and he recalled the story of my little short-term friend.
I smiled in memory. “Oh, yes. The one with distemper. The one you saved.”
Dad looked at me and shook his head. “Actually, I didn’t save him,” he said. “The shot I gave him was to lessen his pain. He died that night.”
I hadn’t thought about that little dog for over fifty years, but suddenly, I could picture the soft, brown eyes. The long, silky hair and funny, tan ‘eyebrows’. The skinny body.
I felt unaccountably sad for the little fellow.
But, just as suddenly, I was grateful to my Dad.
For his skill. For his compassion.
He did manage to fix him after all. 

12 comments:

  1. And he did it without causing you any grief. What a Dad!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I came across a pathetic little cat one time. Lethargic, wouldn't eat. I took it straight to my vet as an emergency. He opened its mouth, showed me the horrible insides. "This cat has lapped antifreeze." He put it down and never sent me a bill. Good men.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a kind man - first for the dog who wouldn't get better, and second for the daughter who wasn't old enough to need that information.

    Wonderful story, Diane.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Diane

    What a gorgeous story and what a lovely thing for your Dad to do - isn't it great how no matter how grown up we are, our Dad's are still our hereos!

    Kate x
    dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sad but sweet. He showed compassion to the dog as well as to you. What a good guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It took me fifty years to get the rest of the story, but you're absolutely right!

      Delete
  6. Total animal lover, especially doggies right here Diane. You precious, precious wee girl you and your courageous, wonderful, compassionate Dad to have given care, comfort, eased that dog's pain and did not worry your wee girl heart. I'm sensitive, I have tears over this one. Beautiful, simply beautiful. Your friend, @grammakaye on twitter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're kindred spirits for sure, Kaye! I love that story. And it took fifty years for me to hear the end!

      Delete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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