Saturday, August 25, 2007

King's History

(Sputter, sputter...I lost this post last night when my server connection ceased. Am having DSL or server problems almost every day, so appreciate readers' patience waiting for new posts.)

(oldoldlady, Naomi, at "Here In The Hills" asked why I had to give up my dog, King, as I described in my previous story, “Betrayal and Heartbreak,” so I am responding here.

BTW Naomi has been posting some fascinating color photos of multiple hummingbirds and bees in flight taking nourishment from some rare and unusual blooming cacti at her uniquely landscaped Hollywood Hills home. There are many interesting posts and photos at her blog. She’s a bit pre-occupied right now watching DVDs as she completes her voting for the Emmy Awards. She’s providing her readers with an opportunity to express their opinions on some nominees for later comparison with her own .)


I decided to elaborate on my dog story about King, since it was an unusual year in my young life. Our family then was composed of my folks and me. A couple of years earlier we had moved to the country which proved to be an isolating new experience for this city girl.

I had never lived in the country year 'round before, though I had always enjoyed visiting my grandmother at her rustic farm home for a week during several consecutive summers. My uncle lived across the road from grandma. He sometimes recruited me to assist with his dairy farming activities, often despite my grandmother's admonitions that he not ask me to do so, but that’s another story.

Talk of our moving began after only a couple of years residence in this country home. Pop was having an increasing number of medical problems including exacerbating breathing difficulties, all of which worsened in the cold climate where we lived. Doctors in those days often recommended to many patients with respiratory problems that they should move from the colder climes where we lived, to a sunnier drier climate. Pop's breathing and other medical problems continued worsening, so we joined those who moved to the desert. This was the impetus for my having to give up this young stock collie given to me as a pup to be "my dog."

Our house and acreage was sold to the real estate agent friend from whom we had purchased the place, and who had given me the puppy I named King. King was the son of this man's dog that had been trained for livestock herding. His dog was not utilized to work as much as the dog needed to do, so he was kept chained on the agent's big, generally unoccupied, farm. With the dog's herding activity limited, so was his human contact which was mostly with workers who regularly fed and watered him.

He broke his chain one day and got into a pen of young pigs weighing 150 to 250 pounds. For some strange reason he actually bit several of them, tearing huge chunks of flesh from their haunches. The owner and workers concluded he did this simply because he was bored. I wondered if he may have tried to herd the pigs in their small pen just to feel useful. Perhaps with no humans present to control the situation, the pigs could have fearfully attacked the aggressive dog, so he fought back. He showed no other signs of being dangerous afterward, continued to be able to herd various animals safely when needed. When he was chained, however, if any chickens escaped their contained area and wandered within the length of his chain, he lay in wait and snuffed out their lives.

I had always petted and played with him whenever I visited the farm. After the pig incident, I was cautioned that I should be wary and probably should avoid him entirely. I had never met a dog, however unfriendly and vicious they were purported to be, that would not make friends with me. So in the confident fearless nature of youth, remembering my prior relationship with this dog, I always sought him out. I knew he was lonely, and so was I some of that time. I did, however, stay at the outer edge of his fully extended chain whenever I petted him, and I rough-housed with him much less. He never exhibited any aggressive behavior toward me. The dog was sometimes used for breeding purposes, so when his owner was offered a pup from a litter he had fathered, the owner then gave the pup to our family for me.

Pop had a snooty little part Toy Pomeranian that he had spoiled rotten for years and was the focus of his affection. This spayed female was a snotty, snippy little prima donna who returned his allegiance. She barely tolerated the rest of us. Before we moved to the country we had acquired a German Pomeranian as a pup to whom I had given my beloved teddy bear to be a companion when the puppy cried at night for his mother after he first came to live with us. He soon transferred his attention to my Mom who housebroke him, met his daily needs of food, water and caring. He did play with me and was affectionate, but despite Mom's efforts to redirect his primary emotional attachment to me, he clearly preferred her.

The folks made the decision we would take the two smaller dogs on our move west, Pop's pooch and the young dog we'd had since a pup before King. I was told the latter dog, now 2 or 3 years old, would be mine despite his having bonded to my Mom. Since we were selling everything, and would live in a small trailer we pulled behind the car, there was no room for the larger dog my King would soon become. He was not made to live in such confined quarters anyway. Presumably he was to be trained to herd livestock as had his father who I had befriended earlier.

We had a public auction and sold all of our personal belongings, other than those that would fit in that Trotwood Trailer 
 (Our trailer looked like this video only brand new so neat and trim -- no mattress in the back as that was a sofa that opened into a bed).

We had to part with some possessions in earlier moves and now again with even more. Pop had the Trotwood sawed in half and added some footage to make it a bit longer. The sofa at the back of the trailer made into a bed which would be used by my folks. The front end of the trailer had a breakfast nook that
could be collapsed and became a bed where I slept. The interior was compact with some closets, drawers and shelf space, a sink, a small refrigerator, a stove on which to cook, a furnace, but no other facilities.

I was sad and excited, with a range of emotions in between, at the prospect of this move. In my adult years, as I have reflected on events, such as this, I've often thought about how experiences beginning in childhood serve to influence my perspective and attitudes toward life. I chose to look upon those geographic moves as great adventures and they were for me. I continue, as then, to learn about accommodation and adjustment. Perhaps these were early learning experiences for me in adaptation, coping with loss, preparation for my future. My memories of those years linger on.


  1. Thank you for the explanation, Joarad...And much more, too....The trailer sounds very very confined...BTW: The picture is no longer available, so I couldn't see what this trailer really looked like, but obviously it had to be a very confined space...Poor you and poor King.

  2. Losing a pet and pulling up roots and moving to an unfamiliar place can be upsetting for a child.
    Something you just never forget.

  3. It is so interesting to read of how our childhood experiences shape our later lives. It is too bad that you had to move and that you lost King that way.

  4. Again, such a heartbreaking experience. Most adults just do not know how profound and enduring are the bonds - and the wounds of breaking them - between dogs and children. ML, FullFath.

  5. Great story, Joared!

    I am such a dog lover, and King's plight (and yours) is sad.

    We are always richer for the love of our animals...

  6. I meant your childhood plight of leaving behind a beloved pet and a home that you would miss.

  7. oldoldlady: I checked the link on the trailer again, just now, several times, and the trailer picture did appear for me.

    Thanks to everyone for your compassionate thoughts. There were many aspects about that move that proved to be quite positive in my life, so I have no lasting regrets.

  8. I never appreciated the bond that a person could develop with a dog until I was about 35 years old and had three young children bugging me to get one.
    I had a colleague who bred and showed wire-haired dachshunds, a breed I had never heard of. He had a year-old female whose hair was not of the proper texture to qualify for "showing."
    When he heard that I was seeking a dog for my kids, he offered to give us poor Katie with the wrong-texture hair. But first my children had to pass inspection from him to determine whether they were worthy of Katie. Happily, they passed and Katie was a member of our family for 14 years. And what joy and love she brought to us!
    Later, we had twin West Highland terriers, wonderful dogs we had to give away after about eight years because of "family logistics" problems. Now we no longer have a dog because of that same problem (too complex to explain), and I envy my neighbors who enjoy the same love and loyalty that we once enjoyed from our pets.