Dogs have always played a big part in my life, I’ve almost always had dogs around. Except for five years when circumstances didn’t permit it. My parents even had a dog before I (the oldest child) was born. Heinz was the first dog that was my dog. For a while, anyway.
Before I graduated from college, I found a job 150 miles away. I had gone to a community college and lived at home, so this was a big deal. And I took a puppy with me. The puppy was Heinz, so named because he was 57 varieties. I had gotten him from a co-worker, and if I had known how young he was, I probably wouldn’t have taken him. He was barely weaned, and judging from his size later, not much more than a month old.
It was so long ago that I don’t remember how I found the first place I lived. I grew up in a fiscally conservative family, and so I was cheap. The place was a converted garage with no insulation that barely slowed the prairie wind down as it blew through. But for Heinz and I, it was home.
Of course, taking on a puppy that small had problems. One of which was that he was into everything. And then there was the house-breaking. It was a miracle that was accomplished, since I was working 12 hour shifts. But it was. And then there was the chewing. Despite having dogs all my life, I really knew little about them. We had them, but they mostly stayed in the basement or outside. And I didn’t know that dogs were pack animals, and got lonely. So Heinz chewed things. Unfortunately, one of the things he chewed was the couch. In his defense, it wasn’t much of a couch, and all he did was enlarge the holes that were already in it. I’m sure my landlord hated me, though.
Another thing he did one day was to jump up on a dresser and knock down a full bottle of Valium. This was the days before child-proof bottles, and he got the top off and ate a whole bunch of them. I came running home with just enough time to change my clothes and go to work to find a very loopy dog. And you can’t call off work for a sick dog when there are only four nurses for the whole hospital, and you’re working 12 hours shifts as it is. So, I sighed, got dressed, went to work, figuring I would find a dead dog when I got home.
However, Heinz appeared fully recovered when I got home, and I didn’t make the same mistake twice. The medicine went where he couldn’t get to it. He was a good companion, and very protective, growling and barking at a guy who tried to rape me. The trouble started when I had to move. I didn’t move far way, just a couple of blocks. But my new landlady wouldn’t let me have Heinz inside. And he kept breaking his rope and running away to the old house, where I guess he was probably happier. I’m sure i spent more time with him while he was inside than while he was outside. It became a problem.
Eventually, I took the dog back to my childhood home and gave him to my mother. There he lived another 13 years, in the lap of luxury, since my mother was always home. And there were children in the house, and my Dad. He was even allowed to go into the living room, something his predecessors could only dream about. He became such a part of the family that he is in a couple of formal family pictures that we had taken at home. Because he wouldn’ get out of them. This picture is cropped out of one of them.
He was very protective of my mother, though. He would bark and growl if my Dad made too fast a move toward her. Or any of the kids. He was really good a scaring Jehova’s Witnesses away. It was like he could smell them. He even ended up sleeping in the bedroom with my parents. On my Dad’s overalls.
Then there was the time my Dad was working the night shift or something, and Heinz got up on the bed with my mother. She rolled over, and felt this hairy thing, and jumped out of bed. I’m sure my mother screamed bloody murder. He never got on the bed again, but he would sneak up on the couch when they would leave.
Eventually, he got old, and passed away. If I remember right, he went suddenly from a heart attack. My mother was devastated. She never had another dog. And that’s too bad, I think it would have been good for her.