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Wednesday, 14 May 2014

I Can See You Smile

By Clifford Rothband

As we age, we realize that all we can leave behind are our memories. So if still able why not share some?

I've often heard the expression, if you want a friend, get a dog. You can choose a dog or it could choose you, but family, you're stuck with. Neighbors, no comment.

Now a dog can be a major pain sometimes or it can be the love of your life, the reason to get moving in the morning or just a confidant to share words or thoughts with. Unconditional love, a lick, a nudge.

I have been trying to remember things that made me happy, that made me laugh. Probably not real contentment if I ever had it, nonetheless bring a chuckle.to my cheeks.

Like being a six year old in a junk yard feeding a 10-cent can of Alpo dog food into a hub cap, filling another hub cap from the Johnny pump [New York for water Hydrant]. I was king. Now let's jump ahead in time.

Now after college at 21, I was reclassified as 1A on the draft. Remember that abomination? Our wedding date had been set and was right after basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey [a true co-incidence].

My Dad had this junkyard dog - a black, female, pedigreed Doberman Pinscher, Princess Warlock, who had a litter of 13 pups at that same time.

The runt was a red male who didn't look like he would not survive so I put him into my moccasin shoe and we doll-bottle fed him. His tail and ears were cropped and our next visit to an animal doctor was at West Point, New York.

We bring the runt, ears up, no tail, long-legged, short-haired dog in for his shots and checkup. The vet in charge calls his associates and says, "Look at the baby deer."

Right there and then I should have realized that these best minds in the animal or military fields knew little more than mules [jackasses].

Now we named this dog Watchdog or Watch for short. What a hoot when you are carrying a puppy and someone asks its name. Or later on, I would walk him and when approaching someone I would command, "Watch,” and I say something in German or Yiddish and see people freeze.

His easiest trick self taught was sticking his cold nose under a skirt.

We had a military house and since we were only a couple, Watch had his own room. Those nights we couldn't figure out if the house was haunted or breathing. It was Watchdog sleeping on a heated floor vent.

When I walked perimeter guard duty and asked the first sergeant if I could walk my dog with me. The first sergeant told me, after the fact, that he never gave me permission to get married or to have a dog. Who said slavery had died, we had a draft.

"Halt, who goes there, friend or foe?” Did my pup scare a lot people? I carried a rifle, no ammo. What did I know about the gold reserves being stored or guided missiles behind the fence.

The first night we brought my newborn son home, we placed him in the crib with the moveable side up and waked up at feeding time with the now large dog nuzzled with my son.

One Sunday our relatives came to visit. We had a bridge table and a few chairs. My wife sets the low table; Watch is eyeing the food.

Hey what happened to the large pickle on the plate? Watch, did you take my pickle? One exhale and the pickle hit the table again. I guess nobody ate it then.

Or when my mother in law was walking him on a leash. He pooped and a string was hanging. So Lucy grabbed the end of the cord [she had gloves on] and yards and yards of cord used to tie cake boxes came out.

It was the time before jogging became fashionable, I am running with Watch next to me, no leash and this citizen comes after us with a rifle. He thought that the dog was chasing me.

After discharge from the Army, we moved into a high rise co-op on Rockaway Beach, New York. Dogs were allowed. Then they changed the rules; if you could not carry your dog on the elevator, you must use the stairs.

So here 10 flights up, I am carrying 70 pounds of dog. The elevator stops and a little old lady gets on with a miniature white poodle who attacks me. The only dog that ever bit me was a miniature poodle!

Sometime later on, it was a cold night and I feel Watch at my feet on the bed, so I kick him off. Lo and behold, it was my son, the dog was alone in the crib. So you want to know guilt.

The time I was wheelchair bound with a leg extended and Watch was running on the boardwalk tied to my chariot. A scene better than any movie. Someone dumped my wheelchair trying to stop a runaway hound. Watch stopped and let me get back in. Growling at the interloper who caused the mishap.

Another scene that is better than any book or movie. We went to Disney World. Watch had a hole in our backyard that he pooped in.

We are staying in a Hilton for $6 a night, dog included. My son and daughter are in the next bed The dog hasn't pooped in three days. He is nudging my face, I get up and step in it - you know between the toes.

So here I am foot in a flushing toilet, wife and kids giggling and taking my picture, Wow-ee.

My first job was driving a tow truck, recovering unpaid and miss-parked cars. Usually people wanted to beat me up and I was afraid of guns, but one growl and the word "Watch," and theworst person shied away.

Now I spoke of those special moments, like an evening when white snow blankets the beige sand beach. We sat under the boardwalk in Rockaway all smiles listening to the surf and sharing good thoughts. I can see you smile.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I've forgotten my Yiddish, but your short story brought me back (from Sweden) to my Brooklyn days and Brooklyn dog, and Rockaway.

Oh, I wish
I could say something nice
In my faraway Yiddish.

Lovely, warm story.

How lovely to know that your writing will bring a smile - thank you!

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