Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A not very shaggy dog story

This is one of the stories I was telling elder daughter after her lost dog adventure:

When I was about twelve, I used to go on long walks down the railway tracks after school.  It was a long-disused route that roughly followed the Trans-Canada Highway, and it was beautiful, lined by dense trees and rock faces.  If you walked far enough, the landscape opened out into meadows where I didn't venture after I discovered they were full of enormous spiders.  This was usually where I turned back.

I was reaching this point one sunny afternoon when, directly in my path, sitting on the railway tie, was a tiny black Labrador puppy, nose in the air, and howling for all he was worth.  The minute he saw me, he sprang to his feet and trotted up to me, tail shaking.

"No, no," I protested.  "Don't follow me; go home!"  Undeterred, he pursued me, and after a while, I gave in and picked him up for the long stroll home.  He promptly fell asleep in my arms, and I fell into my accustomed rhythm, stepping along the rail ties, the late afternoon sun on my back as I cradled the tiny black bundle.

My mother was home from work when I got back, and the cat was most offended by what I had brought in.  The puppy frantically drank the water we set down in the kitchen while my sister and a playmate descended upon him in paroxysms of joy, shrieking and crooning endearments.

I don't quite recall how we got the information -- maybe it came via the playmate, maybe my mother made a few calls --  but it was not much later when we made the trip down our street and across Helmcken Road to a small hobby farm which we could see from our backyard.  I knew the family slightly, vaguely remember the kids as being a bit obnoxious, and I was annoyed that my sister had commandeered the puppy I had rescued.

As we walked up the driveway, we saw what appeared to be a herd of Black Labradors, at least a dozen of them, each one a carbon copy of the little lost dog.  Evidently he had wandered away from his brothers and sisters and no one had noticed.

Not long after we moved away from the neighbourhood, the small farm was sold and the huge complex of the new general hospital was built on the site.  It seems odd to think of my twelve-year-old self standing dazed, relieved, and just a tad resentful, close to the spot where my daughters would be born.

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