Thursday 08 Dec 2016

My First Dog
AJ Robinson

Most people have very fond memories of their first pet, especially when it's a dog. For me, I have memories, but I can't say they're especially great. You see, my first dog wasn't your typical dog

Back then, early 1960s, yes, I know, an eternity ago, many kids had piggy banks. I think it had to do with the fact that our parents had lived through the Great Depression; they were quite frugal, and tried to instill that quality in us. Well, I didn't have a piggy bank, unlike most of my friends; I had a doggy bank

It was actually kind of cute, a nice basset hound with long floppy ears and a cute little black nose on the end of his long snout. He was lying down, so that gave him added strength; his poor legs didn't have to support his body. I say "poor legs" because he was just a piece of hollow plastic. Yet, I loved him; I even used to wash and clean him, and sometimes snatch my dad's black shoe polish so I could shine his coat!

He'd been a giveaway from some sort of gas station; he had a logo of some sort right where his license should be. I'd drop my nickels and pennies in him, and the quarters I used to get from my mom for picking up the pins in her sewing room. Occasionally, I'd pop out the little yellow plug; it turned and locked under his belly and pour out the coins, to count them. Sometimes, I actually had a couple of dollars!

While I couldn't exactly play with him - fetch was out of the question - I used to hug and pet him, and set him on my dresser out of the sun, so he wouldn't get too hot. Sometimes I even put him in my bed with me, but never overnight; he was not comfortable to sleep with!

Over the years of my early childhood, he was the only dog I knew. I so wanted a real one, but my mother held out for the longest time. Good ole "Bank" gave me solace. When I was sad over how my brother picked on me or upset because of some bullies hurting me at school, he was there to offer a tiny ray of comfort. Somehow, those little eyes of his always seemed to have a twinkle in them, just for me

Yeah, I know, how much can a piggy bank comfort you, unless you're Donald Trump?

Yet, strangely, he did. His small round head fit just perfectly into the cup of my hand. His long nose was always cool and felt nice against my cheek - it was almost as if he was kissing me. I liked to pet his long smooth back

Yeah, sometimes my hand got black from the shoe polish!

I never minded, and he always did a good job of protecting my money. Finally, I got a real dog and "Bank" remained on a shelf on my bookcase. Over the years, he moved about, living room, closet, bookcase, storage shed and so on. Often I wondered if I should toss him, or give him to Goodwill. Yet, I was never able to do either. He finally just became part of my mass of "stuff," until I found him once more. His coat was still bright and shiny, his nose still nice and black; oh, and those sad little eyes of his, they still sparkled. Granted, he'd lost his little plug, but I didn't mind - I didn't need him to guard my money any more

Today, he sits on a shelf of honour, among my other antique toys - I can see him from my desk where I write. No, I don't shine his coat with shoe polish any more, but when I'm troubled, just looking at him does make me smile

Good dog!

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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