A dog can be a great friend and if trained a true pleasure. They are wonderful for kids and can be good protectors. I believe that children exposed to pets, playing in the dirt and household germs develop anti-bodies and are healthier than those in a pure environment.
When I was very young dad had an English setter named King who was kept in a dog run way up in the back yard. I would go in the pen and play with the dog, climb the apple tree and eat apples and grapes growing on the fence wire. The dog was a pal to my dad and an excellent hunter. We put our dogs in the car’s trunk to take them hunting and return home. They were fine in there—comfortable and had plenty of air.
Our “town” was 13 miles from New York City and yet we had two dairies. Dad had King running in the pasture and two wealthy hunters were there saying “our dogs found no birds so you’re wasting your time”. King went on to point and flushed a nice pheasant. Dad had no gun. He was just running the dog. In no time King was on point again with another bird. On the spot the hunters offered dad $1000 for the dog which in today’s money would be more than $20,000. Dad would no more sell king than sell me so he said, “no deal”. This is the sad part about dogs & people in that usually the dog passes on; the next day King got out of his run to chase a bitch and was killed by a car.
We lived on Long Beach Island and a friend gave me a Lab/Airedale pup. He was easily trained and was retrieving things I threw on land. He was about 3 months old and it was time for his swimming lesson. It was March and the bay was cold but to get him in the water I had to go first. So in I went. He came in and he loved it. I threw things out and he looked back to me & I motioned left, right or out further and he obeyed and flawlessly brought back what I had thrown. I could throw two things and he would bring the one and go back for the other. My mouth watered for a duck dinner but he had too much Airedale and wouldn’t sit still.
At 14 we lived off base in California, but in Navy housing. The river was a short walk and like Mark Twain I hung out there. I built a ‘Huck Fin’ raft and went on the water. There was a Liberty ship tied up to the river bank and I got to being a pal with the chief and 2nd mates who were young guys also from NJ. I had the run of the ship and it was great. One day a dog followed me to our quarters. I didn’t know it but I was his boy. He adopted me! Naturally we became friends and he slept outside by my bed room window. We named him “Lucky”. I walked to the bus stop to ride to school and he walked with me. After school I walked home and he was waiting in the park by the bus stop. Of course now we were feeding him and enjoying his company. One day, he became ill and was shivering so we brought him inside and wrapped him in a blanket. He recovered and would play with the little dependent kids going up the ladder with them and coming down the slide. It was said he was some type of greyhound and got on a ship in Okinowa. He ran very fast and one day blocked a few dogs who were chasing a paper boy on a bike. One day after school I got to the park and he was eating a duck he had caught. This was not good.
When we left California I put him on a train & shipped him to NJ. We had a rough first year back home being homeless and using a false address to attend high school. When we got back on our feet we would go to Beach Haven and rent a row boat using our 5 HP Johnson outboard and fish for fluke. We had to walk out a narrow pier and climb down a vertical ladder to the boat and Lucky did just as we did. The dog loved fishing! If the rod bent his front feet were on the gunwale watching. We would put the fish on the deck and he would hold it down while we removed the hook. Sometime I would make believe I had a fish and would wiggle my pole and when he saw there was no fish I got a dirty look. In the winter he would pull my sled up the hill and sometimes he pulled me on my bike.
Alas. One day I came home from work or school and Lucky was gone (It happens a lot. The dog just disappears. Lucky was not a runaway so maybe someone took him or perhaps with my being at school & also at work maybe he just wanted more friendship, was lonely). I think there is a special relationship when humans and animals work together. A special bond. I think animals are happy when they have a job just as humans are. A seeing eye dog or a sled dog. A hunting dog or a guard or watch dog.