He Shot the Dog

An old Chinese proverb states that the finest memory is not so firm as faded ink. So as I find myself aging, I decided to record some of my memories – before they fade beyond recall. Yet even as I pen these memoirs I can’t help but wonder why the unbosomings of an ordinary old housewife would interest anyone.

Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.

Corrie ten Boom

It is a fact that mom was also there – an undeniable fact – but perhaps the memory has faded for her as well. Or it was so unpleasant that she chose to forget it all. But it must have been hot and muggy, as August days are almost always. Even in Michigan which isn’t exactly known for warmth.

It would seem, given my presence at that event, it would have forged itself more deeply into my mind. But alas, such is life and fading memory. Although I have read that as we age our childhood memories sharpen. Maybe I’m just not old enough yet. For I seem to have forgotten most of my earliest memories.

Strange as it may seem my earliest memories seem to center on dogs. Dogs and vomit. Yeah I know, not much of a combination. Perhaps that’s why I don’t care for dogs much. Even though the dogs weren’t really to blame.

But anyway, my father had an old hunting dog. At least he seemed old. I never got close enough to see or ask. He was viciously mean and Dad warned us to stay far from his pen. Hardly necessary. He terrified us kids. And I was always glad when dad took him out somewhere.

As time passed, I realized he had been hunting with the dog. Probably because of seeing Dad return with the dog, a long pouch, and a brace of pheasants. Sad to think of, for the pheasant is such a noble and elegant bird.

But I digress. As I said that dog was mean. Until he wasn’t. One day he simply disappeared, or so it seemed to us kids. Mom told us Dad had taken him to our grandparents’ farm. Though we never saw him again. And I don’t remember when I learned that Dad had shot him.

A drastic action for sure. But I know Dad lived in fear of that dog attacking someone. And when that almost happened, it required drastic action. I imagine that dog, whose name I don’t remember, was an excellent hunting dog. Otherwise he would have disappeared sooner.

I also imagine my parents experienced many situations requiring drastic action. And I’m sure they learned, as I have, that making such choices takes courage and fortitude. Challenging situations call for difficult choices. But I pray to meet them with the same courage and fortitude that my parents and their parents had. And I’m glad they had the wisdom to share knowledge only as we became able to handle it. Not giving us burdens we weren’t ready to bear.

Images: Dog by Coco Parisienne | Peasant by Jan Temmel.

5 thoughts on “He Shot the Dog

  1. I too feel sad for that dog. He was acting out of a nature that was tough–maybe something happened when he was a puppy. But I’m glad your dad didn’t tell you what happened when he had to put him down. Crises are part of life. And hard choices will need to be made. But age appropriate? So necessary. Asking too much of those who aren’t ready to hear what happens is painful.


  2. It must be the heightened emotions behind some of our early memories that keep them deeply imprinted as the decades go by. Perhaps that’s the reason this story remains clear in your mind, Sheila. / I can’t help but think that putting down his hunting dog was a painful thing for your father to do, but he knew it was best. I love how your parents protected you from the hard truth until you were older and could better understand.


    1. I think you’re right, Nancy. But they also say that as memory fades with age or with demenzia our minds remember our older memories better than recent ones. Probably because they’ve had more time to imprint themselves there. But I also think some childhood memories are kept alive because family members have always talked about them. Who knows? The mind is a mysterious, but wondrous, thing – for sure! And yes, my parents did use wisdom in this episode, thankfully.

      Liked by 1 person

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