Living Wright: Childhood memories of a dog named Boots
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2012
9/20/12 at 5:39 AM
Go to Jason Ashley Wright's BlogOriginal Print Headline: Boy's best friend
My first dog was Snoopy.
I'm sure I would've balked had you pointed out he wasn't real. I mean, even at age 4, I was cognizant of that. Snoopy was made of cloth and didn't bark, which typically are big indicators that a dog won't fetch.
It was second grade before I got a real, honest-to-goodness dog, which I've been thinking about more than usual lately because of this weekend's Hound Dog Blues Festival. Area musicians shared some of their pet stories with music writer Jennifer Chancellor, so I started reminiscing some of my own.
When we lived in Laurel, Miss., Mom and Dad gave my brother and I each a border collie. Mine was named Boots because, surprise, he was black with white paws. Later, I had a cat named Felix, so apparently I don't tax myself when it comes to naming things.
Anyway, Boots may have been the runt of the litter, which also included my brother Jay's dog, Bucky, who was bigger and huskier. For that reason alone we should've traded, but maybe my parents appreciated the irony.
Boots and Bucky's mama was Buffy, Papaw Walters' faithful dog, who knew how to shake hands/paws. Neither Boots nor Bucky knew how to do that. Instead, they were escape artists, which I started taking personally in my 20s when I reflected on my childhood.
Not that Mom and Jay were thrilled to run around the neighborhood looking for them when they'd jump the fence, which seemed really tall when I was in third and fourth grades. Like, five feet, maybe? Not that it mattered because they could still jump it.
Or burrow under it, as was often the case. While Bucky usually lounged on the front porch of the two-room dog house, Boots dug holes - big, ankle-twisting holes. It was well-choreographed, though - kind of like a hop-bark-dig, over and over and over again. Bucky just stared at him.
Living in the city with no big open fields for them to run, Mom and Dad thought we needed to let Boots and Bucky move to a farm outside of town. It was a sad day, but I knew it was for the best.
Every time I step in a hole and yelp in pain, I remember Boots. I can see how, normally, that wouldn't be a compliment to his memory; but thinking of his cute little psychotic hop-bark-dig routine takes my mind off the pain. Well, that and ibuprofen.
Any time I see a big dog on someone's front porch, with big paws dangling off the edge with that sweet "You bore me" look, I think of big ol' Bucky.
He and his brother are long gone, but they generate warm memories still - even if they couldn't fetch or shake hands. In fact, they probably bring a bigger smile to my face because they didn't do all that normal stuff.
Border collies bring back warm childhood memories of a first dog. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World file