A Dog With No Name



~~~

I remember fondly those special occasions when the extended family would gather to share a holiday, birthday, or simply a backyard barbecue. The closeness of family sprinkled with good food, libation, and grand merriment. As a youth, I would be enthralled by the stories told around the table. Some we had heard before and others that had saved themselves to become the laughter of the moment. When parents are involved, many of these stories are about the crazy things we did as kids. But on occasion, the kids would offer their own stories about our crazy parents.

Some of these stories, no matter how far-fetched, are heard so often that they become historical record to us. Even when the details are sparse or the outcomes somewhat unbelievable, we accept these stories as a matter of fact. Yes, they are augmented by humor and great storytelling, but fact, nonetheless. Or at least that is what we think. But stories can grow over time and become spotted with conjecture, exaggeration, and pure fantasy. Or they can just be flat out false.

Recently, my sister suggested I write a story about our mother’s first attempt to bring a dog into the house as a pet. A story I have shared with friends and family often. So, it seemed it would be an easy write.

Our mother kept a fastidious home, so I can only imagine all the whining and begging my siblings did to get her to consider having a dog in our home. When she finally relented, she went out to find the perfect dog. Something small, short-haired, and cuddly. When she saw the puppy, it was exactly that, and she brought him home to surprise us. Of course, what Mom did not know is what kind of dog this puppy would grow up to be. She brought home, McKinley’s King Tobias. That is his full pure-bred name. We just called him Toby. Toby was an Irish Setter and did not stay small, short-haired, or cuddly for long. Before you knew it, we had a red-coated horse running through the house. We loved that dog, but it wasn’t long before our parents realized this was not a good fit for us. Luckily, Dad had a work colleague with a farm and arrangements were made for Toby to live out his life with the space a dog like him needed and loved by a caring family. Down the road, we did have another dog in the house, but Mom had turned to our brother, who happened to be the dog law enforcement officer for the county, for advice before making a decision. This resulted in her bring home a miniature poodle we named, Taffy. Taffy was perfect. She was small, short-haired, hypoallergenic, did not shed, and did not bark. And, oh, was she ever so cuddly.

As I sat to begin writing this story in the hopes of making my mother’s first attempt at bringing home a dog a humorous story, I wanted to start with the dog they had to get rid of when I was born. I didn’t remember its name, so I inquired of my sister. This is where things take a turn.

She seemed confused by my question, so I shared the story I had heard my brother tell a million times. The gist of which was, that when mom got pregnant with me, she made them get rid of the German Shephard they had because she was concerned it would harm me as an infant. My brother would lace the story with palpable lament and an obvious evil eye towards me as the reason they had to lose the dog they loved. I am sure he was trying to make me feel guilty for what happened, but I am not sure I ever did. I always knew that I had no part in being conceived or deciding to get rid of the family pet. Still, it always left a bit of room for feeling like my brother still held it against me, along with a bunch of other things.

To my surprise, my sister told me they never had a dog before I was born. And nobody has a memory like my sister, so I tend to believe her. Add to that the fact, that telling this falsehood repeatedly just to make me feel bad, sounds like exactly what our brother would do. So, now I must re-write my own history book. I now wonder what other stories I consider historical record that may be just as false. I remember a story about Mom putting me in my playpen by the front door, and I had somehow tipped the playpen over and crawled out the front door when she wasn’t looking. I now see things in that story that don’t add up. Did Mom just leave the front door open? How big would I have to be to tip over a playpen?

Repeatedly, as I have aged, I have learned things I never knew about our family or found that what I thought I knew was not correct. My brother has now since passed, so retribution is not viable. His game was well-played. I will give him props for that. So, around the next family gathering, listen carefully to the stories revisited. You may find that some of your own family members would make great fictional writers.

~~~



Comments
15 Responses to “A Dog With No Name”
  1. beth says:

    oh, I have found this to be true, the older I’ve become. I will often ask my older sister for verification or clarification, as our ages and perspectives may have been quite different or things may not have happened at all. some stories become legends over the years because they are repeated so often. sorry your brother used this phenomenon as a weapon

  2. kristianw84 says:

    I always become giddy when I see you have posted a story. You are such a good storyteller! This made me instantly want to throw a dinner party with my own family just so I can pay closer attention to the details of my past to see what might not be entirely accurate.

    Ah, the joys of sibling rivalry! It is a shame you did not get your revenge, but I commend you for giving credit to your brother for having the last laugh. Classic!

  3. Dearest beloved brother, You gave this segment of our childhood its due most eloquently. I remember that Toby was relegated to live in the unfinished part of the basement where the furnace and laundry equipment were located, and that he managed to chew at all of the corners of the built-in cabinets beneath the workshop shelf. I didn’t remember what had happened to him and my heart was soothed when you told me he was given to a more appropriate home to live out his life.

    Taffy ended up being dad’s first love, even more than his career. Truth be told, since we weren’t an affectionate family, I’m glad he had her to receive all that love and attention from.

    Thank you for putting this memory that we get to share in writing for others to share as well! Love you!

  4. Liam Eddy says:

    Yes, I suspect most have such family fictions. I certainly did…

  5. petespringerauthor says:

    I think we’ve all been witnesses to stories that have gotten twisted over time. My sister-in-law can tell a great story, but she likes to add in a twist of exaggeration to enhance the stories. Over time, these become “facts.”

  6. My siblings and I all have different versions of the same truths and all of the versions hold some needed truth for each individual.

  7. yassy says:

    Yes, exactly. I just have to bring up my brother on that. He seems to do the same things your brother did to you. Lol 😂

  8. Bridgette says:

    My mother has 5 brothers and two sisters. They rarely all get together, but when they do the stories they tell always contradict each other and overlap. Family truths and family lores are an interesting topic!

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