I Remember Sparky

Memories of the past sometime fall on what we had as children. Things like bicycles, toy trains, cars, and other inanimate objects. Then there are the animals. As a boy I usually had dogs, plural. The reason I had two dogs was because my first dog was like a little old lady, and was not the type of dog that liked to play throw and fetch. Her name was Sparky, and she was an overweight, spayed Rat Terrier. She was a family member that came to me as a fully grown dog when I was five years old, which was close to her age too. Sparky first was the pet of my Grandmother, and Step Grandfather Ebert. My grandparents on my father’s side. When my step grandfather died he left instructions that I should have Sparky, because I was the only grandchild who never teased her, or stepped on her paws. I also showed her a lot of affection. Sparky fit right into our family, and although she was not the type of dog who liked to play a lot, she was always there with a waggle of her entire body, and a joyful greeting when I came home from school. She also loved to walk, she could hardly run. She would come to me or sis with her leash in her mouth, and lay it at our feet so we knew she wanted to be walked. I have to note, that the leash was completely un-necessary, but was a holdover habit from her days when Grandpa Ebert walked her around Washington Park holding onto her leash. In her later years she would never get more than a couple of feet away from me, or sis as we walked her, but she loved it when we clipped the leash to her collar, and could barely stand still long enough for us to get the leash attached. I have to mention her tail; it was short and stubby, having been bobbed as a pup. That did not keep her from wagging it however, along with the rest of her body. When I think about Sparky, I get the image of an aging aunt, who hated to see her niece and nephew spanked. She would grab the switch out of mom’s hand sometime, and take it under the bed. That would usually make mom laugh, and end the spanking, so you can see why sis and I loved that dog. Unlike the other dogs I had as a boy Sparky was an inside dog, and in the winter her bed was behind the old coal stove in the living room. Most of the time however she slept at the foot of either my bed or one of the other beds in the house. I watched her grow old, the hair around her mouth changing from black to white and her waggles becoming less and less pronounced. As a young dog her whole body would shake in excitement when she saw me coming home from school, but as age slowed her down I would find her curled up behind the stove. She would still acknowledge me with a small woof or some other word in her language to show me she was glad I was home, but now I went to her for the greetings. She lived to be 14, and as a teenager myself the loss hit me hard, as it did sis and mom. I have had a lot of dogs through the years, but she was special. I think that may be because of how she came to me, as a gift recognizing that even as a young boy I would love her, and keep her safe all her life. I think she taught me to be gentle with all animals, which means all the pets I have had through the years, owe Sparky a thank you for teaching me how to treat them with love, and respect. I watched her grow from a young girl to a prissy old lady in her short dog years., and while it may sound silly to those who are not dog lovers, I still think about her now and then all these years later.