Our first dog came to us via my aunt as a puppy ."It's going to be a small dog," she said .
Wimpy ( named after the character in Popeye comics ) was true to his name and grew into a very large dog with an 'endless gut' . Finances had to be stretched to include dogfood , with a lot of free bones and scraps from the butcher .
At full growth , Wimpy was eight feet long from nose to the tip of his tail . Half was body and the rest was tail . The tail was a constant difficulty for him . He was forever tripping on it or dragging it on the ground . Whenever he was allowed inside , he would barge through the door in a panic , for his tail had been caught many a time - so he was sceptical that we would remember its presence on the end ...
Wimpy came into our family at a good time . My brother , who at three years old , was forever wandering away lost in his imaginary games .The dog quickly picked up the idea that this wandering was a no-no . One afternoon when Mum noticed my brother's absence again , she rushed out of the house to start the search and began calling for him . Just inside the edge of the bush , she heard a single bark and a lot of screaming . When she followed the commotion , she found Wimpy holding on to the seat of my brother's pants-steadfast in the face of a full blown temper tantrum . He had decided that my brother should go no further . Wimpy grabbed my brother's pants and simply sat down - immovable . " Good dog!" Mum said as she took hold of her squirming child .
Wimpy was a clumsy critter with long gangley legs , big feet and unidentifiable lineage . He was a total misfit , not particularly attractive in any way . But he was transformed into an absolutey beautiful animal when he ran . Nothing could give him such joy as running full speed with his tail held as straight as an arrow behind him- long legs in perfect synchronization that ate up the distance .
The trouble was that when he became full grown , none of us was fast enough to run with him and he would become frustrated that we gave up so soon . We just weren't challenging enough .
So , Dad came up with the idea , that driving the car along the side road and calling the dog to follow would exercise him well enough . It did work fine except the dog preferred to lead ,always keeping just ahead of the car. When he ran out of road , Dad would turn around and head back , whistling for the dog to come . To Dad's surprise , Wimpy ran up beside the car then dove into the passenger seat while the car was moving . It became a game . Anytime , the dog heard the car start up he would look expectantly at Dad waiting for the whistle that gave him permission to catch up and leap into the moving car .
It didn't take long for the dog to transfer this learning to other vehicles . He preferred transport trucks .The dog would run across the tracks to the highway where he would gallop alongside and ease himself into position in front - using his tail as a gauge to speed up when necessary . He was all race and no chase. As can be expected , one driver nudged Wimpy as he drew along side , knocking the dog to the side of the road . His leg was broken .
Dad found the dog after someone phoned to tell what they had seen . Once Wimpy was home , Mum splinted his leg with wood and torn sheets . After two days , she noticed Wimpy trying to continue his game despite the splint and broken leg . There was no stopping this dog from running and Dad's tutelage had put the dog into a precarious position .
Luckily for Wimpy , Dad found a place for him with a local farmer who appreciated the company in his field and livestock work . At least ,that's what he said .
Our neighbours had a small black and white dog named Patches at the same time as Wimpy was with us . She was Wimpy's best and only dog friend . They were always together when Wimpy wasn't running ...usually laying on the backporch step . Patches regularly put the chase on other dogs or animals who ventured into the area , while Wimpy felt no need to stir unless he thought it was someone he could race with .
After Wimpy left us , Patches continued to guard the back porch for many months . When Wimpy never returned , she began to wander the town . Eventually , Patches was picked up by the dog catcher and put into lock up at the town garage . After the third rescue , the neighbours decided that she would have to be put down so they didn't bother to retrieve her the fourth time .
Every two weeks , stray and abandoned dogs were put to death by gassing . A dog was placed inside a steel chamber where it's barks of terror slowed into silence over the sound of the town truck pumping exhaust fumes . In our school , beside this garage , we cried through each death , praying for it to end quickly .
Apparantly ,Patches had escaped , eaten the workman's lunch and evaded the horrible death ...or so they said .
It was then that I had my first doubt about the fairytale ending for Wimpy .