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