"Bye, Mom," I'd say, a peanut butter sandwich stuffed into my pocket on Saturday morning. "Be home for dinner at 6," she'd call, and I'd be off with my dog at my side. Pinto hated being left behind, and would follow us, wailing at the top of her lungs, a sound like "M-ee-ow-come-back-owww" She hated us leaving home, but hated worse seeing us go without her. I'd have to carry her back and shut her in the house. Mom would let her out again when we were out of sight, and she'd howl the whole time. We were her people.
Richard taught Dusty to retrieve rabbits and grouse he shot when he went hunting. I taught her to climb trees with me. She couldn't get up as high as Pinto and I, but I got some strange comments from passersby when she sat beside me on an 8-ft-high limb. I taught her to climb ladders, too. Down the street there was an old abandoned single-story house with a low grade on it's roof. We'd climb up the ladder and sit on the roof. The legion hall was nearby, and one evening a couple of guys coming out did a double-take at the sight of Dusty and I, decided not to believe it, and told each other they were swearing off drink.
One day Richard and his friend took Dusty hunting. Richard returned shaking his head in disgust. "We came to a wood rail fence. Instead of jumping through the rails, Dusty climbed up over it after us!" I heard him telling Mom. That's my dog!
I'd often play tracking with Dusty in the fields behind our house. Mom would keep Dusty inside for 20 minutes while I took off down the hill, through the grass, up the tree, splashing thru the creek - trying to hide my scent. Finally I'd hide in a copse of small trees and with my binoculars I'd watch Dusty tracking me. She always found me, thought the creek really slowed her down.
We'd even play wild west cowboys together. I'd point my finger at Dusty and say, "hands up, I've got you covered!" She'd sit pretty, begging. "Bang, bang, you're dead!" I'd cry, shooting my "finger" at her--and she'd roll over on her back and play dead.
Dusty and Pinto were part of every aspect of my life all through middle childhood, and I was enriched by their presence in my life. They loved me when I was bad, consoled me when I was hurt, rejoiced with me when I was happy.
Did you have pets as a child? What memories do you have of them?