Every kid needs a dog even if that dog belongs to somebody twenty blocks away.
I had a paper route for years, the kind where you go out on your bike at the crack of dawn (in rain, sleet, snow, etc.) and throw papers into yards throughout the neighborhood.
There were numerous rodent-sized dogs along the way that came snapping across yards all full of themselves but would shut up when the newspapers knocked them in the side of the head.
There was an ugly collie named Danger that bit me, getting me out of jury duty some years later in a dog bite case when the attorney asked for a show of hands from those of us in the jury pool of anyone who had ever been bitten by a dog. Goodbye, he said. Aw, shucks.
And then there was a boxer dog named lazy that started following me every morning as I did the route. Then he started showing up at hour house before I got up and would wait out there for the daily run to begin. Finally, he started staying at our house all the time.
His owners were okay with it, since the dog had adopted other kids before. They knew to drive by our house whenever they they wanted to take Lazy home.
Lazy couldn’t resist following a kid on a bike. Unfortunately, when I did the biking merit badge in Boy Scouts, he followed me out of town on one of my 25-mile treks. Needless to say, I couldn’t ride fast enough to get away from him. He gave out before I did at the twenty mile mark.
He ran under some people’s house–one of those on blocks–and wouldn’t come out. They wouldn’t come out either because they thought the shaving-cream-style foam around his mouth meant RABIES. I said boxes always look like that though, truth be told, he was foamier than usual. I couldn’t coax him out from under that house for love or money.
Finally, thinking I had probably been attacked by wolves or fallen into a ditch, my parents found me. They persuaded the people in the house that it was safe for them to open the front door four inches and hand out a bowl of water. Lazy drank it like he’d been running in a desert. After another bowl, he allowed himself to be coaxed into the car.
Lazy (his full name was Lazy Bones) loved coming inside the house when the parents weren’t home. He enjoyed being swung around in a wide circle at the end of a rope: people driving by almost ran their cars into the ditch when they saw that. And he loved play-growling around the hands of anyone wearing gloves. (We might have taught him to do that after seeing police shows on TV. Mother wasn’t amused when Lazy lurched out of some bushes when she innocently game outside wearing gardening gloves). Lazy was in no way lazy.
Lazy was “our dog” for some ten years, maybe longer. When I gave up my paper route, he followed my brothers. He knew that my brothers and I were three kids in need of a dog.
Update: I posted a photo of Lazy, my two brothers and I in a “formal portrait” over on my Writer’s Notebook blog’s “Wordless Wednesday” post on 2/14/2010.