My first dog “Rebel”
I was 6 years old when my father brought home a Dalmatian grown up puppy. It wasn’t a family dog. It was mine, at least that was my feeling at the time.
He was bouncy and playful. He always had that look like we needed to do something fun. It should involve running. He loved hide and seek, but would never wait until the count of 10.
We did everything together, except when I was playing with tractors. He got me a bit upset because he would ruin my roads.
Rebel didn’t know much about obedience, but he knew my voice and would come to me from where ever he was in minutes. I loved to call him when I got home from first grade. First grade was a scary experience. I didn’t know any of the kids there yet and Rebel made me feel like I had a pal.
It was the first month of summer and school was out. We lived on a hill with a gravel road. They sprayed creosote to keep the dust down. It smelled kind of nice to me. Mom hated it because I would drag it into the house on my shoes.
Our driveway was made of tiny pebbles that dad got when we finished building the house. I say “we” because I handed him nails. The driveway had a thick patch of blackberry stickers on each side. They seemed to grow best on our property. Dad was no gardener.
I was standing at the entry of our driveway and Rebel was across the road in the distance in the neighbours side property. He was milling around their property probably looking to do his thing.
A car was coming up the road fast. I could hear and see a small plume of dust as it made it way up the incline. I looked across the street and saw Rebel turn and catch my glance. A thought passed through my head. He is going to come to me because I looked at him.
I screamed out. Stay Rebel, Stay! I might as well have said Come Rebel, Come. He only ever heard me call him and never tell him to do anything else except to not step on and ruin my tractor roads.
I could see the car getting closer and Rebel start his sprint towards me from deep inside the neighbours property. I shouted. Stay Rebel, Stay!
He was already on the road and the car was there too. This was 1962 when cars were as big and heavy as tanks. I heard the car slam on the breaks and heard a big thunk and screech from Rebel.
That was it. The car had stopped. Rebel was under the front of the car. I was already there crying my eyes out sobbing saying, Rebel why couldn’t you stay.
The man was very apologetic saying, “He jumped right in front of me, I tried to stop”. I hardly heard him say anything as I was devastated.
By this time some of the neighbours were showing up exchanging opinions about what happened and that nobody was to blame.
I don’t remember much more, except they dragged him to our side of the road next to the blackberry stickers. I couldn’t look. I was in shock. I guess my dad and mom took care of everything.
Rebel was my first experience with death and loss. Later in life these experiences would come back.
I’m sure everybody has had some sort of first experience that no matter how young you were, you remember every detail as though it were yesterday. These things leave a lasting impression that stays with you your whole life.
A few years ago I wrote a poem for Rebel — here it is:
“Fearless with spots all black in a white pond
Rebel was rambunctious jumping like a frog
He was just a puppy almost bigger than I
His licking incessant and whimpering so wry
He followed me everywhere out onto the road
A car hit him broadside my first dog was no more
We called him rebel, but obedient he was
I was the rebel, I lost my first dog
It hurt to loose what leading was lost
Onto the street and out of my thoughts
I watch both ways before crossing
Catching from the corner of my eye
Jumping spots of back in a white sky”