25 years ago, I was back home in Ohio for the summer after my first year in New York City. When July 4 rolled around, this stray dog, a pit bull mutt, wandered on to the property and didn't seem to have any intention of leaving. She was terrified of the fireworks all day and that night, so my little nephews named her "Crackers".
Dad did not like her, did not like her at all. We already had a dog, adopted as Sidney, a German Shepherd/Husky mix, but his name had changed over the years from Old Thunder to Charles Albert, on account of stories in the paper dad and I had read, and the last one on account of an old, old lady at the vet whose tiny dog was named Charles Albert, mom surmised, after the old lady's late husband.
Crackers was a pain. In the garbage, needy, nearly vermin, you would think. And dad didn't want her muscling in on Charles Albert's attention, even though he didn't care for attention. Dad did not want this dog. At all. We already had a dog.
But she wouldn't leave, and my parents weren't the sort to take dogs to the pound. They were the sort to adopt dogs from the pound. So they decided to keep her until someone who actually wanted this dog could be found.
I'm not having a particularly good week. Not a bad week, but not overly positive. Probably the heat and the power loss over the weekend, and the heat is still here. (Though July and August in The Ham for 13 years has pretty much inured me to anything Ohio can and will throw at me.) And I'm almost as sick of saying, "One day at a time," as I am hearing myself say it. But as smart as I like to hope everyone thinks I am, that's just what it ends up coming down to: One day. I"ve got today. It's hot, but it's a blessing.
Every 4th Of July, I think about what ever happened to that dog that didn't want to leave. And it makes me wonder. And it makes me sad.
Well, what happened to that dog was that she never did leave. And she became the most adored dog ever in the history of dog history. Often, when my dad would get up at 5:15 in the morning, while my mom was still asleep, he would coax Cracker up into the bed where he had been laying and put the covers up to her head so that my mom would wake up with this dog sound asleep with her head on the pillow as if it were the most natural, predictable thing one wouldn't even have to imagine. My mom would get so mad telling of it that she'd have to laugh.
Then there was the time they were gone for 3 days, a story for another time.
When Charles Albert died in 1993, Crackers helped us bury him in the woods and wouldn't leave the site of fresh earth for 3 hours; she just laid there, waiting for him.
One of the sweetest, saddest things I've ever seen was right after dad died the last week of March 2001. People were bringing food for our family at all hours of the day all that week. So there were cars coming up the driveway too often to count. Yet every time a car would start down the driveway, that dog would think for just a second or two that it was dad, and would lumber over to the front door only to be disappointed yet again for the two dozenth time. Then she'd mope on back to mom. Mom and I would share a look that from what I can remember was an odd combination of comfort and devastation.
Crackers died almost exactly 6 months after dad did, having lived a pretty good dog's life, having broken in mom's last stray dog, Sophie, who, it breaks my heart to think, is still waiting at the front door waiting for mom to come pick her up and take her back home.
P.S. Moonpie got to meet my mom exactly 3 times and was, as you might imagine, smitten by her immediately, and remembered her as if on cue the 2nd and 3rd times right away. I suspect there's a little Crackers in Moonpie dog. At least I like to think so.