a “dog story”


Something prompted me to remember an anecdote today.

It may or may not be of interest. It may seem trivial and not worth telling. But, I think it illustrates something – I’m not quite sure what – and how, sometimes, children can be as wise as their parents.

I was very devoted to a couple of dogs we had when I was a preadolescent. When we were living in Canton, Massachusetts, our family had a dog, Robbie, an Irish setter that we had purchased from a dog breeder.

Robbie was tall and gangly, besides being young and rambunctious. My parents felt that the place for him was in a tiny room or hall in our house that was not used except for ingress and egress – plus, we may have stored something there. We called it the “back hall.” It was adjacent to the kitchen and led to the back door, on the other side of which was a back porch. Robbie was confined to the room with the door kept closed.

I kept saying to my parents, “Can’t Robbie be let out and live with us in the house?’’

No, they would answer, sternly but regretfully, as if to say that they had no alternative. That could not be permitted. Robbie would scratch on or knock over furniture, ruin rugs, get underfoot and in everyone’s way, and so on and so on.

But Robbie seemed so unhappy back there. He would scratch at the door and whine, wanting to be let out.

I kept begging my parents to “free” Robbie. “If you let him out,” I said, “he will calm down and behave.” I kept insisting.

Finally, on a Sunday afternoon, they gave in, sort of. They agreed to let Robbie out of the room for a trial. If he “misbehaved,” he would be sent straight back to his dungeon.

The door to the back hall was opened. Robbie scooted out, nearly knocking over whomever it was (I forget) had opened the door. He ran manically around and around, frantically and joyously, in circles in the dining room, then scampered into the living room and did the same thing, knocking over a chair or two. He ran himself ragged, deliriously circling one room and then the next, running back and forth between them.

This went on for about fifteen minutes. Then Robbie lay down with his paws extended and became calm, happily dozing in a corner, basking in family warmth.

My parents never sent Robbie back to his dungeon again. He became part of the family.

And, he behaved.


— Roger W. Smith

   November 2016

5 thoughts on “a “dog story”

  1. orangeteachers

    I wonder if not allowing dogs free rein of the house was the norm at that time. Our dog was not allowed out of the kitchen, and we had lots of company. Of course this was prior to leash laws, so he had the run of the neighborhood.

  2. Roger's Gleanings

    Good point.

    We lived in a suburb. It was in the ’60s. The suburbs were a bit more rural then.

    I live in the city now. Owning a dog (which my family does not) means you have to walk it several times a day — on a leash, of course, rain or shine, regardless of how lazy you might be feeling.

    We had several dogs over the course of a few years. In the old good old days, when Robbie or one of our other dogs would whine and/or paw at the door, indicating that he or she needed to go out, we would open the door and let him or her out. We almost never walked our dogs on a leash.

    Of course, it was a great pleasure to be out with one of the dogs. They love, as I know you know, to be on a stroll with their master. (In those days, it was unleashed.) They are great walking companions.

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