Category Archives: my dogs

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

“My Dogs Growing Up”


me with our Irish setter Rob, eighth grade

My first dog was Sugar, a mongrel, in fifth grade. We had a problem because Sugar was chasing and biting college students on bikes, so my parents took the dog back to the pound. I was very upset. This was in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Then we briefly had another dog, Cougar, which could not be housebroken. So we had to get rid of Cougar.

Then we got a wonderful dog, Missy, a shepherd collie, when we were still living in Cambridge. We moved to the suburb of Canton, Massachusetts and Missy had puppies. My mother assisted with the delivery! The puppies were adorable.

Missy died in 1959 when I was in the seventh grade, shortly after we moved to Canton.

This devastated me. My father picked me up at the Eliot School. We were on double sessions then because of overcrowding of the schools, and we got out of school at something like 12:30. The first thing I said was “How’s Missy? When is she coming home?” He said, “She’s never coming home.”

I cried all the way home. For the next few days, I was in pain. I would go outside on the back porch, forget momentarily that Missy was dead, and expect to see her, then would remember.

It was a sudden death on the operating table of the vet, who was very sorry about what happened. Missy had had to have an unexpected operation involving a “female” problem arising post-pregnancy.

Right after, we got Robbie, a pedigreed Irish setter. I still have the pedigree. The price was $75, expensive back then.

Robbie died in the mid to late Sixties. Then we got Bambi, a great dog, loyal and smart. Bambi got hit by a car once on Chapman Street in Canton, but recovered. Bambi used to follow me all around the house and was totally devoted to me, as was I to her.

My parents both liked dogs and pets in general and were good with them.

My father taught Robbie, our big Irish setter, things like not to go onto the living room carpet. Usually, Robbie obeyed. Robbie would creep up to the entrance of the living room at the edge of the dining room and would lie there with his paws outstretched almost touching the living room carpet.

My father conducted choir practice at our house every Thursday night. During one choir practice, Robbie snuck into the living room. He used to like to stand up on his hindquarters and put his paws around my father’s neck. He did something of that sort. Whereupon my father said in a firm, loud voice, “Robbie, sit down!”

One of the choir members was Bob Fish, whose other nickname was Robbie. He was startled because he thought my father was talking to him.


— Roger W. Smith

    January 2016


Roger Smith, student essay on my dog Bambi (in Spanish)


Roger W. Smith, essay on his dog Bambi (in Spanish)


Posted above is a brief personal essay of mine that was written as an assignment in an advanced course in the Spanish language taught by Professor Susana Redondo de Feldman, Chairman of the Spanish and Portuguese Department at Columbia University.

The essay consists of an evocative, affectionate sketch of our beloved family dog Bambi, who was living with my father in Massachusetts when I wrote the essay.


— posted by Roger W. Smith