I was reminded this morning of my first dog in a post over on livejournal. The first dog that I remember. My family had a toy poodle named Gabby when I was a baby. I do not know what happened to that dog. My mom is dead, so I can’t ask her. I’ve only seen pictures. I assume they found another home for her when they moved and probably couldn’t have a dog at the new place.
When I was in grade school a farm dog adopted my twin sister, Connie and I. We were in second grade. The school bus would drop us off at this rural corner before it started it’s second route of junior high and high school kids. We then had to walk about three blocks to get to the road that led to our house or stay on the bus for another hour.
One day, as we were dropped off, a very big shaggy black and white dog (collie size, but colored like a Bernese Mountain Dog), came bounding up to us, barking. Connie and I screamed and started hugging each other. The dog kept barking and was basically trying to herd us. A woman came out of the farm house and called to us. He’s really friendly. So Connie and I separated and being the dogless dog lovers that we were, started talking to him. This was the start of an adopted friendship. I believe they told us his name was Toejoe, but we called him JoeJoe.
The farm family had two farms, one where the bus dropped us off and another to the north of our house. They drove a tractor back and forth passing our house. JoeJoe was out there waiting for us everyday, walked us home and then hung out with us usually until he heard the tractor go by. He would then head out and trot alongside the tractor to go home. Sometimes he would stay overnight. He’d come on weekends with the tractor, stop at our house until the tractor came back through.
JoeJoe became our protector. I remember one time Connie and I stopped at the end of our driveway to climb in the snow bank. We fell through, screaming at the snow that made its way inside our boots. JoeJoe had already gone down the driveway ahead of us, but when he heard our screams, he came tearing back out, growling and ready to fight whatever it was that was making us scream.
There was another time when a friend of my mom’s was visiting. Several of us kids had blocked off the steps to our deck making it into a ship. JoeJoe was on the ship. I climbed over to go say hi to the friend. He picked me up, turning me upside down, causing me to scream. JoeJoe leaped off the side of the deck and came around the corner telling the friend he better put me down!
JoeJoe was not allowed inside our house, but my mom let him sleep in the garage when he did stay overnight. I would sit down there with him until I absolutely had to go to bed. When we finally did get our own dog, Heidi, I remember my mom telling me “you need to make sure JoeJoe doesn’t get a bent nose”. I pictured JoeJoe’s nose bent and didn’t know how this could happen, as I didn’t know the phrase, thus understood it literally.
Shortly after getting Heidi, JoeJoe stopped coming by, never to be seen again. I heard much later that they found him near the railroad tracks. Today I see him as being a dog with a purpose, acting as our dog until we got our own. He taught me a lot about loyalty and friendship. I don’t have a picture of him. I know there is one or two somewhere. Probably with my mom’s photos. But I don’t need a picture to remember him.
He was truly a great dog.