Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Story of my life as a dog lover

Wick's World


My life as a dog lover began with a cocker spaniel named Ginger. She ended up a pancake when she got in the way of my uncle’s pickup. Then came Lady, a miniature collie, who ended up a dead dog via a batched spay job from an inept veterinarian. The next Lady was a Norwegian Elkhound whose companion was the dumbest dog I ever owned. We named him Jethro Bodine after a character on “The Beverly Hillbillies” who could never make up his mind if he was going to be a brain surgeon or a streetcar driver.

Jethro’s caretaker, Granny, would implore him to, “Think boy, think.”

Jethro would reply, “It hurts, Granny!”

When asked why his Hollywood mansion had two sets of steps, Jethro would reply, “One for going up and one for coming down.”

Jethro the Elkhound was so stupid that when we would tie him up to keep him in the yard, it soon became unnecessary to put the chain on his collar. All we would do is drop the chain beside him and he assumed he was tied up. He only wandered off into the woods one time. It was when he was old and decrepit. Like dogs often do, we figured he wandered off to die. Maybe he wasn’t as stupid as we thought.

Shadow, another Norwegian Elkhound, was the only dog we had to take to the vet to be put down. Why is it called assisted suicide for humans and the distasteful "put down" for animals? If you put down a human, you insult them. If you put down a dog, you kill them.

Later in life we tried out the so-called lap dogs. We soon discovered they were aptly named because they spent as much time on your lap as possible. We named a Bichon-Frise/Poodle mix Otis after a picture on a doggie calendar, not after Otis Campbell, Mayberry’s town drunk. I got Otis certified as a hospital dog. I would take him to the local nursing home once a week to brighten people’s lives. The best moment was walking down the hallway approaching all of the wheelchairs lined up like a geriatric Indy 500. When the patients would see Otis approach, their hands would drop down by the side of the chair and get a good friendly lick from Otis’s wet tongue. Research shows dogs can help restore their owners back to health. Along with my wife, Otis helped mend my broken back (fractured vertebra), my broken front (fractured sternum) and my broken heart (heart attack).

Otis was also a favorite of my parents.

When we suggested to my mother that she should get a dog, she replied, “Oh no! Every dog we had, died on us.”

My wife and I looked at each other, attempting to stifle our laughter. Doesn’t every dog eventually die? I thought to myself, Mom, they didn’t call you Jethro as a kid, did they?

Otis died in the back seat of my car. I was driving up from St. Paul to bring him to the vet to see why his health wasn’t improving. I spoke to Otis at Sturgeon Lake. A few miles later, I pulled into our driveway to stop at our house before heading to the clinic. I opened the back door to lift Otis out of the car.

“Otis, you’re dead!” were the only words I could muster. He died from tainted Chinese chewables. Within 15 minutes, I had him buried in the ground.

Eight years ago, my wife and I traveled to Kansas City to attend the funeral of her cousin. After the service, we learned Mae, her miniature poodle, was left homeless. We looked at each other and simultaneously said, “We’ll take her.”

Thus began the story every dog owner likes to brag about. “It’s the smartest dog I’ve ever known.”

Our smartest dog we’ve ever known needed a partner so we brought Sweet Pea the Shih Tzu into our family. After getting run over and requiring several surgeries, Sweet Pea became known as the most expensive dog we’ve ever known. She acted like it was Mae who spent the seven thousand dollars to save her life. No matter how much love and attention we give her, Mae is still No. 1 in Sweet Pea’s life.

Dogs can have a vocabulary of up to several hundred words. Ours only need to hear two: “Let’s go!” Research shows dogs increase their owner’s life span by an average of three years and dog-owners likelihood of life satisfaction increases by 12 percent.

I’ll leave you with this test. What kind of dog goes meow? Answer: An undercover police dog.


Reader Comments

wiggy writes:

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