That’s me when I was younger than I am now. It’s a terrible photograph because it was developed just a few years ago from some long-forgotten negatives discovered in a box in the bottom of a closet under one of the many piles of junk in my mother’s hall closet. The photo place didn’t think they could even get an image, but they did. And there I am, plain as day.
If you squint and look very closely, you’ll see I’m sitting on a sawn-off tree branch and that the tree branch has a thick rope around it.
That branch was my dog, Jimmy.
Even though, when I was 3, I had been bitten in the face by a neighbour’s dog and required several stitches and still have some faint, but visible scars from that encounter, I madly and passionately wanted a dog of my own. I held no grudges against dogs nor even, Pogo, the dog that had bitten me. No, I loved all doggies soooooo much. (Which is why I had been bitten in the first place…because I was trying to love poor old Pogo while he was trying to eat his dinner).
Anyway, my parents were absolutely dead set against adding a dog to the household. So, one day while my dad was pruning trees, down came this branch that miraculously had 4 shorter, stubbier branches attached to it – 2 at the front (as shown in the photo) and 2 more just like it in the back.
I fell instantly in love with that branch because, except for the fact that it had no head, it looked exactly like a long, skinny, stiff, furless, tailless dog. I named him Jimmy.
I begged a length of rope off my dad and dragged Jimmy around with me wherever I went. I made him a bed in the basement and shared my meals with him. I sat on him, I ran around with him, I talked to him and played with him. For a couple of years, he was my one and only pal since, at the time, I was still an only child and lived in the middle of nowhere.
Okay, so one day my dad was building a hot-house to start some seedlings for spring. As you can see from the link, this involved lots of thick, plastic sheeting. Knowing how destructive puppies can be, and how Jimmy, in particular had a bit of a destructive bent, my dad made a point of telling me to “keep that dog away from this plastic.”
But as soon as Dad’s back was turned, Jimmy went and jumped right through the middle of that hot house, not once, but several times, tearing the plastic to shreds. I don’t know why.
Jimmy was cremated that evening in the backyard incinerator along with a lot of household rubbish, because that’s how dads got rid of stuff back in the days before recycling.