When I was about seven years old, I remember my parents kept a sweet, young, mongrel dog, a black-and-white, skinny cur called Moga, wearing a stained, tight collar, tied up short on a rusty chain in the backyard. I remember trying without luck to loosen his collar or get a longer chain for him. All I could do for the miserable dog was to sometimes sit outside with it as it lay in the dirt and pick off the fleas on its ribs. Occasionally I found a tick in its dirty ear, but I was not very good at getting them out. I was troubled by its hard, unsanitary conditions but I had no real understanding of what to do for it. In the mid-twentieth century many people tied up a mutt to a doghouse in their backyard, feed it enough to keep it alive, and forgot about it. That was how my mother’s family kept a dog, and she saw no reason to change until years later when she finally understood that pets are family and kept hers inside. My father had not had pets when he was a child, but he was partial to a stray tabby cat that had wandered into the house and stayed. He did not like the fact that the dog often barked at night.
My father had the habit of sleeping in as long as possible in the morning, and in exasperation my mother took to throwing half a glass of water on his sleeping face to rouse him. For a long time he could not or would not change his ways, so I remember many mornings began with a shout from him, and scurrying about as mother demanded that father get up and go to work. He always went to work but it was a chaotic way to start the day. One day mother tossed the usual half a glass of water on him, he lurched up, grabbed his robe, and shoved his feet into his slippers. One of them was full of cat shit. He roared, “That damn dog!” and later that day he took the outdoor dog to the pound where it was probably put down through absolutely no fault of its own. I do not remember what happened to the cat. My parents did not keep a cat box inside the house, so apparently a slipper was the next best thing for it in a rush. It probably went to the pound too. Sometime later my father discovered footprints and broken tree branches outside of their bedroom window. The dog had been barking at a voyeur. Then my father felt very badly that he had disposed of the dog. I would never have told this story from when my father was a relatively inexperienced young man if he were still living.
Sometimes as I write these stories from my life I have wondered how I would feel if someone told such honest stories about me. It would certainly be fair, and there would be no end of material to discourse, because I am as human as anyone else. Maybe someday, when I am closer to the end, I write those stories too.
Caption: Moga Ready To Be Defleaed — so very sorry dog
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018