Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Our Dog Lady

One afternoon after work, Dad came home with a German Shepherd. I still remember that day even though it was 43 years ago on July 24, 1972.

Belair family dog Lady
Lady, ca 1973

My family loved animals, particularly cats, with dogs coming in a close second. We had many cats over the years (mostly called Minou and Tiger) and a couple of dogs, but we hadn’t talked lately about getting a new pet, so it was a surprise to see Dad with a dog. We excitedly asked him all kinds of questions, like did she belong to someone and how long could she stay with us. (We were already hoping we could keep her!)

Dad explained that she had been abandoned in a pit at his work site. She was friendly when he and a co-worker fed her bits of their lunches. A day or two later, the dog was still around, so Dad figured she didn't have an owner. That’s when he decided he couldn’t leave her alone anymore and brought her home to us. We loved her immediately and named her ‘Lady’.

Within a short time, Lady thrived in our care. She was a Shepherd-cross and kind of small and slim. She returned our affection in abundance and proved to be a loyal companion. I suppose Lady was closest to Dad, because he was the one who saved her and first showed her kindness. Whenever Dad was at the kitchen table doing paperwork or chatting on his CB, Lady would lay quietly at his feet. She never moved until he did.

Lady’s attachment to my little brother Raymond, who was only two years old at the time, was just about as strong. She was protective of him and was his shadow whenever he was outside playing in the yard. The most remarkable thing I remember about her, though, was how she and Raymond were in sync. For instance, if we couldn’t find Raymond (he was never far from home at that age, usually a few doors down at a friend’s house), we’d ask Lady, “Where’s Raymond?” and off she would go find him. The reverse was true, too: if we couldn’t find Lady, we’d ask Raymond, “Where’s Lady?” and off he’d go find her.

Raymond Belair with family dog Lady
Raymond with Lady, ca 1973

As much as she was happy, calm, and obedient, Lady had a different side to her that manifested itself on rare occasions. If anyone raised their arms at or near her, no matter how innocently, she would cower in fear. It got worse when a neighbour teenage boy would come across Lady in the back lane between our houses. He had a habit of talking loudly and waving his arms about as he walked. Lady would become agitated and bark at him. When we told Dad, he thought she might have been hurt or mistreated by a previous owner.

Lady loved just about everybody who came into her sphere, except for that boy and one other person – our mail carrier. He was a summer student worker, probably in his early 20s, tall, with lots of curly red hair. Lady got to know his routine and what time he’d drop off the mail in the morning. She would stand at the front door inside the house or come from the back to the front yard (on her leash) and wait for him. As soon as she spotted him, she’d bark with fury. It never occurred to us to keep her occupied and away from the front door in the morning, but we soon did after we got a phone call from the post office telling us we would lose our home delivery if we didn’t keep our dog away from the carrier.

About three years later, Raymond and I developed allergies and asthma and we assumed it was because of our dog. It was therefore with heavy hearts that we decided that Lady couldn’t live with us anymore. Dad had a friend who lived on a large property outside of town who agreed to take her. We missed Lady very much, but if we couldn’t have her, we reasoned that at least she would benefit from having a lot of space to roam and explore.

Belair family dog Lady
Lady, ca 1973

We still talk about Lady with great affection to this day.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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