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A Three-Dog Night

Throughout my childhood, we always had dogs. Our dad raised the most beautiful boxers when I was very young. I remember the puppies were hauled around in a large, red wagon that normally would have held children.

The dogs were sturdily built with sleek reddish brown coats. They were strong dogs but friendly with children and adults. At some point, our parents were too busy raising their human family to continue with the boxers.

However, that doesn’t mean there were no pets to be had. Throughout the years, there would also be a dog or two, plus a cat, rabbits and even snakes that my brothers kept over the winter months.

The snakes came from the Oglebay Park snake pit that once held space where the park’s miniature golf course is located today. My brothers rigged up large, glass fish tank-like homes equipped with heat lamps for the snakes. They kept them in the bathroom on the third floor of the house.

My brothers failed to let the family know that a boa constrictor came up missing from one of the tanks. We could only deduce that the snake made its way out of the house, as it was never found. Only a very large snakeskin was located months later in the basement much to my mother’s chagrin!

As for the dogs, we had a variety of them including a very protective dalmatian mix named Pepper who kept unwanted visitors away from the house, but was as gentle as a kitten with all of the kids he lived among. He slept on my oldest brother’s bed, a comfort to both man and beast on winter nights such as those we are currently experiencing.

A black and white miniature sheepdog we called Pokey, whose fur it seemed was forever matted, joined the family at one point.

He followed us kids everywhere even to the nearby creek as we searched for minnows and such. We would have to wash him in a tub in the backyard to relieve him of the creek smell before he was allowed back in the house.

There were others, too. A light brown weimaraner who was aptly named Dickens, spent some time with us until his car chasing antics proved too dangerous. He was relinquished to a farm where the most trouble he could raise was chasing cows.

When my mother was widowed, she acquired a mutt she named Harley. He was almost as loud as the motorcycle whose name he carried. He barked at everyone and everything.

The mail carrier refused to come onto the porch if Harley was nearby.

The problem was Harley didn’t like men very much and took a bite out of one too many of my brothers.

Bye, Harley.

Most of my siblings and I have had our own dogs when we left home.

My husband and I had basset hounds, two with red and white coats and one tricolored pooch. They were like family and lived in our small house. Our son enjoyed the oldest of the three — Pumper — when he was a youngster. Pumper never flinched when our toddler rolled off the bed, landing safely on top of him. Dogs truly serve many purposes as man’s best friend.

Tonight as the wind whips its chill across our valley, please remember to take care of your animals. Sounds like a few “three dog nights” in the forecast. Let’s keep each other warm.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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