Stripped Down Dogs

by Regis Boff

I had two dogs. Now I have one. My old retriever went paws up and headed off to wherever minor souls go. I suspect it is a place where stealing food and pooping receives applause.
My father would buy dogs in exactly the same way he would buy cars. First, he would strip “dog” down to it’s essentials, nose, fur, and optionally a tail. He would then search out a “deal.” Some of the dogs he brought home nourished our family’s suspicions that he had finally not stopped short of stealing one from our neighbors in his thrift.
He would happily apply Michelangelo’s answer to the famous question, “How do you sculpt an elephant out of a giant piece of granite?” Michelangelo,” You just cut away anything that is not the elephant.”
My dad could do the same with form and beauty. We always had the ugliest dogs and cars.
We treated our dogs like animals. We smacked them with whatever was handy. They were expected to obey all commands from birth. The phrase “good dog” might be used if the beast dragged a baby out of a burning house, but such praise was not considered compulsory.
Our dogs died with such routine regularity that it was tempting to check our dinner meat.
Dogs roamed dangerously free back then and came home only for meals, just like us kids. One afternoon after school I found my dad crying at the kitchen table. He said our dog was dead. I asked where he was, and he told me that sometimes when dogs know they are going to die, they go off into the woods and bury themselves. My dog Moon is somewhere in the woods as we speak.