My family owned various dogs, cats, hamsters, and guinea pigs over the years. There were two cats, Cinnamon and Blackie, Christie the short haired pointer, and Scamp the mutt. The most memorable of animals to me was a neighborhood mongrel dog named Spike.
Spike was a largish, black and brown, thick furred dog of questionable breeding. The reason that Spike was so memorable was that I was the only person that this dog seemed attracted to. The neighbor kept this poor mutt chained to a post in the middle of the yard with nary a drop of water to drink. Riding up and down the street on my Schwinn banana bike, I’d observe the poor bastard circling his post and looking forlornly at me. On several occasions, Spike freed himself from the shackles that bind, to wander the neighborhood in search of food and friendship.
My most concrete and vivid memory of Spike occurred one day while sitting on the banks of the smelly old Cayudutta creek, throwing rocks into the muck. Spike approached me from behind and stuck his nose under my arm, and then his whole head. I think it was the first time in my life that I felt like someone really really needed me. It was as if Spike was saying “I have no friends but you, help me to escape the dungeon that is my life”.
Now I am not saying that I was unloved and shunned by all humanity, destined to walk the earth alone. What I am saying is that as a young boy, relationships were rough and tumble with my friends, and moderately tender with my parents. After all, nobody really loves you but your mother, and she could be jivin’ too.
Towards the end of that summer, I stopped seeing Spike chained to the post in the yard. My preference is to think that he somehow escaped his prison and went to the happy land where dogs frolic and play. Spike came into my life right around 1969, so it may be that he stowed away in the back of a VW Microbus and ran off to Woodstock with a cute poodle.
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