COLUMNISTS

There are just some dogs you remember in your life

Susan Manzke
Susan’s mother, Isabelle, with her dog Bunny.

I was looking through old family photos when I came across one of my mother and her dog, Bunny.

The exact date of this photo is unknown. It must have been around 1950. I do remember hearing how Bunny was part of the household when I was born. Bunny turned out to be a very protective pooch. She would lay under my crib and guard me from strangers. Bunny also protected me from visiting family members. Of course, I don’t remember this particular dog, but I’m just showing how dogs have always been part of my life.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a column about dogs named Laddy, Rusty, and Flinger. Today my memory draws me to my teen years in the late 60s.

Barney and family cat Pinkie, enjoy sitting in the family front yard.

My best four-footed friend was Barney, a collie mix. I named him after a character on the old TV show, Wagon Train. Barney’s full name was Barnaby West. Barney followed me everywhere, but he wasn’t our only dog at that time.

One day, Mom came home with two boxer pups we called Pug and Butch. Pug turned out to be a great rat hunter. When Dad was cleaning the chicken coop, he wanted Pug nearby. With the prongs of a pitchfork, Dad would disturb a rat's nest. He didn’t need to do anything. Pug did it all.

The dog would be waiting anxiously next to Dad. When a rodent tried to escape, Pug would catch it. He ended the rat’s life with a snap of its neck. Pug then returned to Dad’s side to see if more rats needed dispatching.

Butch was a blockhead. If a rat ran past him, Butch wouldn’t even try to catch it. It seemed that all the brains in that litter went to Pug.

Rat-hunter extraordinaire, Pug swinging.

I loved dogs and wanted to raise Saint Bernards. My first big dog was a female named Buffy and then came a huge male, named Sam.

Not all the dogs lived in the house. Sam had his own fenced area outside where he could be separated from the other males—back then my family never thought about neutering our pets. It’s sure not that way these days.

Anyway, one day Sam escaped his pen. I don’t remember exactly how. When loose, the big guy wanted a piece of Barney. A frightening fight ensued.

These two were my much-loved pets. Without any thought for my safety. Even with all the snapping, biting, and growling going on, I got in-between the two angry dogs. (Pug and Butch were not involved in the fight. Those two raced around, barking at the fighting pair.)

The only thing I could think to do was to get a door between the two. As they battled, I grabbed hold of Barney’s collar and tugged him backward, up the front steps. Sam came right along with us, trying to end Barney’s life.

They both fought viciously, which was something I had never seen before. My sweet Barney kept trying to get at Sam.

Snapping was taking place all around me. Somehow, I got Barney on the porch and ended the biggest dog fight ever. Just as the door closed, I saw Sam turn, growl, and snap at Pug.

I exited the house by another door. At this point, the big Saint Bernard was ready to return to his private home. The crazy thing was that Pug was lying dead on the ground.

There wasn’t a scratch on Pug, not a dot of blood showed. My family thought that when Sam snapped at Pug, the other dog had a heart attack. It was the only explanation.

For myself, I didn’t have a scratch on me. As wild as that dog fight was, I should have been bitten at least a few times. But I was lucky.

When my parents returned home, they found things mostly back to normal, well except for Pug.

I’m happy that was the only dog fight at our home.

I looked for photos of all the dogs. Too bad, I didn’t find any photos of Sam or Butch. I’m sharing dog pictures that I was able to find.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; susanmanzke@gmail.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.