Prelude to a Dog

I don’t really remember Buffy. Just a fleeting glimpse, a snapshot of a large ginger dog who was too big for me to play with and very wiggly is all I have of her. I have been lead to understand that she was my big sister’s pet when I was born, perhaps even given to her as a consolation for the sudden invasion into her life of a squirming, screaming, sickly baby – in other words, me. But before I could truly add her to my conscious memories, Buffy was gone from our family. I suspect she met some ignominious end, and whether she was flattened by a semi-trailer out on route 1 in Osceola, or simply given away to someone, somewhere, because we did not want her any longer, I really do not want to know. This is not to my credit.

The next dog in my life would persist until both she and I were in our late teens, and both she and I found ourselves floundering into new and dangerous phases of our lives – she into elderly dog-hood, I into intensely insecure college dropout. Our parting was deeply sad and would leave a hole in my heart that I would later unsuccessfully try to fill with three cats of my own and, ultimately, ten of other people’s dogs.

We found Snoopy at a Taco Bell. In version of the story told over the years by various members of the family – some who weren’t even there – Snoop was found in the parking lot, but this is simply untrue. While we may have first spotted her small black and white wiggly little self running through the parking lot, we first took notice of her in the Taco Bell itself. She was a very smart little dog, and seeing her chance, she ran in the door when it was held open just long enough. And suddenly no one in that steamy faux-Mexican eatery could ignore her. Snoopy, who was not yet christened with her most original moniker, saw that this was her moment, her chance to convince one of these lucky diners that she was the Best Little Dog in the World (she was), and that despite having a multitude of tasty menu choices before them, the best decision they could make that evening was to take her home. I know you think I’m exaggerating in regards to Snoopy’s conscious effort in this, but I am not.

Once realizing that she had the attention of the entire crowd in that restaurant, Snoop became a one-dog circus, performing and careening and making herself adorable. She knew exactly what she was doing. She raced around, running laps from one side of the place to the other. She barked and crouched at patrons’ feet. She even jumped straight into the arms of one unsuspecting woman, who, having no good sense, dropped her back to the floor. I don’t remember who it was in my group who first said it, but there seemed to be a very quick consensus that this dog must come home with us. And so she did – but not my house, much to my deep disappointment. The Best Little Dog in the World rode away in the back of my Aunt Pam’s station wagon, dining on her very own taco. Aunt Pam named her Fanny, and loved her, but in one of those mysterious adult negotiations that kids are never quite privy to, Fanny was one day offered to us.

We took her. Fast. Our family of five (Mom, Dad, Sister, Me and a cat named Toby) was now six. As we watched our newest member explore our small house, sticking her nose in every nook and cranny she could find, Dad said, “she likes to snoop into things. Let’s call her Snoopy.” Though my own suggestion, “Cheerio” (what a good little consumer I was), had been summarily vetoed, I happily agreed.

Snoopy was home.

One thought on “Prelude to a Dog

  1. Buffy was a yellow German Shepherd, who as I was only about 6 or 7 wasn’t trained. Me being the BIG girl wanted to walk (him/her) and the dog dragged me about a block trying to get to other dogs behind a fence. Needless to say, our father made us (me you and Mom) take him/her to the pound. And yes, Snoopy was found at Taco Bell. We never knew her age, but she was found in 1978. I could’ve sworn that it was me who named her Snoopy because of her marking that looked like the more famous Snoopy. We had her 14 wonderful years until I had to put her to sleep in 1992. Remember when she would run next to us on our tandem? When I would deliver The Paper?


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