Thursday, November 19, 2009
The Day I Became A Dog Lover
In my personal notes, I have mentioned that my sister and I received our first dog for our sixth and third birthdays. We have both been dog lovers since that day.
It was autumn, 1945. Our father had been stationed at Will Rogers Army Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. In early spring of that year, he had received orders for Japan--what was thought would be the biggest, bloodiest battle, necessary to bring World War II to a close. In late spring or early summer--my memories are vague--he came home wearing his "overseas cap". Mother cried. Shortly thereafter, he left for a big air base in South Dakota--the staging area for deployment.
Mother, my sister and I remained in Oklahoma. Mother tried to be brave, but as I eagerly awaited my third birthday in August, I was aware that something else was more important to her than my Big Birthday. She never did mention Hiroshima or Nagasaki to me. But I might have heard those words whispered by other grown ups. I think it was my sister who told me that the war was over. But it did not really make an impression. That was four days before my Big Birthday.
Mother made me a cake. It was a "war cake". Rationing was still a fact of life. But a much more important fact of life was that my father was not going to be part of the Last Battle of the War. He was coming home.
I do not remember the day of his arrival. But I do remember that not long after he came home, our parents announced that my sister and I would be getting a puppy--a Cocker Spaniel puppy.
They took us to choose the puppy. I cannot remember how many puppies were in the litter. I do remember patting their silky coats and breathing in that (to me) wonderful puppy aroma. We chose the runt of the litter, a bright coppery female, and named her Lucky Penny. We knew that we were the two luckiest little girls in the whole world.
I want to thank my friend Zoe, whose technical and artistic skills translated two aging but beloved Kodak snapshots into usable form for an internet blog. I have no picture of my sister from that momentous day. I am pretty sure that my presence in the lower right of the top picture with my mother was unplanned. My parents believed I was too small to be trusted to hold a wriggly puppy, but I just could not stay away from Penny.