Lassie Gets Knocked Up

Suppose I haven’t mentioned the family dog.

The only question is, which dog?

There wasn’t ever a time in The Family Project when we didn’t have a pet in the house: Taffy, our Cocker Spaniel, was the first dog we ever had. She was there when I was a toddler in Indianapolis, protecting me from wandering into the street. And I was there to watch over her when she died shortly after we’d moved to Maryland.

Lickety-split, Dad went out and got us a Sheltie. Naming rights somehow went to Brian: “She looks like Lassie! Let’s call her Lassie!”

Just brilliant, lil’ bro.

So, Lassie she was, though her tendency toward canine altruism and heroism in the face of impossible odds must’ve been stunted in the gene pool.

Fact is, Lassie was a first-class sneak.

That dog assumed she had license to terrorize the neighbor’s trash and stay out late, never heeding calls to come home. We rarely went out to track her down, since after yelling ourselves hoarse, that damn dog would suddenly appear. Like she’d done nothing wrong.

Our neighborhood gang on Casco Point never went anywhere without a shadow gang of dogs at our heels: The Rogers family had a black Labrador mutt named Spooky, and later two Labs named Magnum and Taboo; their next-door neighbors, the Drakes, had a Beagle named Juno; and Scott Ross owned a retriever mix he called “Bummer.”

Dogs were everywhere. Dogs were a fact of life. And they provided lessons on the facts of life.

Sometime between 1972 and 1975, Lassie became a mom. We could only conjecture who the daddy dog was, but naturally our thoughts turned to Bummer.

Dad built Lassie a birthing box in the basement (undated photo above left) and she stayed there protecting her litter for quite a while.

A runt of the litter was given to our neighbors, the Yorks, who named the whelp Bingo. Whatever happened to the rest of the puppies is anybody’s guess.

I’ve been thinking about Lassie lately because she was pure rascal, a scamp—the Trickster of Casco Point.

Of course the neighbors would complain about their strewn trash. Of course she never came when she was called. And of course on her nighttime excursions she’d go and get herself preggers.

While it frustrated us at the time (and probably not the least of whom was my dad), she strikes me as admirable now. She wouldn’t be trained to be any other way than what she was.

Maybe there has always been a little “Lassie” in me.

I’m obstinate, independent, lazy, and yet willful. It often put my father and I at odds.

Sometimes I fought to keep that original “self-essence” intact from assaults from the outside: neighborhood kids, teachers at school—and the parents.

Like the photo at left, from about the time of Lassie’s puppies. Dad didn’t come into my room often, if only to tell me about chores that needed doing—of which was probably “clean your room.”

The poster below the window says a lot to me now.

One day I’d hook up with my Inner Lassie, my Sundance Kid.

And we’d shoot our goddamn way out of there.

~ by completelyinthedark on February 12, 2012.

One Response to “Lassie Gets Knocked Up”

  1. Savvy, beautiful party animal she was. I like her.

    Liked by 1 person

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