Tuesday, November 26, 2013

dog-gone dogs

Yesterday, it was "Memories are what make us who we are."  Today, it's "What we cannot recall make us who we are."

Now, I am not getting all Freudian on you.  Freud's template is not my own.

But there can be little doubt that there are many things that happen in our lives that hardwire the way we live.  Even the events we cannot remember.  Like where I put the Quicken CD I was just using.  Peter Hall's quip may be true:  "The older you get, the more like yourself you become."

Darrel and I were talking about my Sitkum story yesterday morning.  He asked if I had ever shared this photograph with you.  I don't think I have.

That photograph sums up a lot about me -- even though I have absolutely no memory of the event itself.  And that is understandable.  I was only 2.

But this is not about me.  Well, not solely about me.  It is about the dog that appears in today's and yesterday's photographs.

Meet Uncle Jiggs.  He was not the first dog of my youth.  But he is the first one I remember.  And he is the standard by which I judge all other dogs.

He was my constant companion in those early days.  And my family knows story after story of my exploits with him.

The year after that photograph was taken in Powers, we moved to Myrtle Point.  My father would try his hand at being the owner of a truck tire store.  A venture that led to a pile of burnt rubble.

We lived in a house on a hill above a hollow that the main highway ran through.  More Ken Kesey than William Faulkner.

The Powers house had a fence around the yard that stopped me from indulging my inner Lewis and Clark.  The Myrtle Point house had none.  So, when I would come to the edge of the property, I would keep on going.

On one of those adventures, my mother looked out the front window to see Uncle Jiggs walking down the center of the highway.  But the dog was not alone.  I was in front of him.

At 3, I had no sense of danger.  Not that I have developed one since.  But there was danger.  I was walking near a blind corner where unloaded logging trucks would speed back to the hills for another load of dead trees.

My mother's version of this tale is that Jiggs was keeping in the center of the highway to avoid danger.  If that is true, he was endangering himself to protect me.

Now, I have no way of knowing the facts of the story.  But I like that version.  It built an almost inseparable bond between boy and dog.  Photographs of that era almost always include him nearby.

Our family gave him up to the neighbors before we moved to Portland.  He lived a life of luxury with them.

And, ever since, we have had many dogs -- each measured by the golden standard of Uncle Jiggs.  And all fell short.  With the exception of the eccentric Professor Jiggs.

So, why don't I continue my dog ownership?  For the same reason I am not married.  My current lifestyle is based on going where I want, when I want.  That 3-year old boy is still looking for adventure over the next hill.

Maybe, when I tame him, I can settle down with another golden retriever.  And I will be content to stay in one place.


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