The Thirsty Old Pub Hound,
Rouses Memories of Young Bill.
Dispatch Number Fourteen
In the Hour Glass.
Wednesday, February 21, 2001, at 1200 hours CDT.
By Mickey Miles
Bill, I Still Love You.
SPECIAL to CornDancer.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Miles is a professional journalist and political operative who moved to London in summer, 2000, to explore a new line of endeavour.
We are in the Hour Glass, a nice little pub not far from our flat in West Minister. It is one of those quiet Sunday afternoons that I enjoy so much. I have had some rest and after a pint of London Pride, I am starting to feel human once again. It seems I have to snarl all week long answering the demanding job. I have a family to feed, too. Some think that since I have a nice Southern accent and manners, I can be pushed.
At work, I call my friend the Englishman "The Ambassador". He has a nice quiet way about him when it comes to dealing with difficulties. He calls me "The Sheriff." Once when I was dealing with a particularly difficult client, who noted that there seemed to be a change in attitude in our company in regards to how we treated certain clients, I replied, looking at my buddy and grinning: "Well madame, let's just say there is a new sheriff in town."
It wasn't personal! We both laughed, after the phone call of course.
Back to the Hour Glass.
Walking into the Hour Glass is a distinguished looking gentleman with an English Setter on a leash. You can tell the dog is old when he happily flops down on the carpet in the walkway between the bar and the tables. His master gently encourages him to move a few feet away under his table so he will not be in anyone's way.
Once he sees that his companion is secure, the Englishman, probably in his seventies, makes his way to the bar and buys a pint of London Pride. Returning to his table, he takes an ashtray, pours a couple of shots of beer in it, and gives the elixir to the dog to drink. He leans over and encourages the dog. The setter hesitates, but drinks.
The pub is empty for the most part. Patrons at the other end are watching a soccer game on television. My wife and I are seated near the fireplace, enjoying our pints with tasty ham and cheese sandwiches. My wife, who loves dogs, leaves our table to fetch us another pint. She can't resist stopping to chat with the man about his dog.
It seems that Walter, the dog, is thirteen and a half years old and living on borrowed time, the man explains somewhat wistfully. He lists Walter's ailments like he's going through a grocery store checklist. Still, Walter seems in good spirits. A nice walk with his master, a little beer, and a warm pub has set him right.
After a time, he leads Walter out of the pub. A couple of well-dressed English gentlemen, who happened by at the same time, remark on the age of the dog to us, the Americans sitting in the corner. We tell them Walter is thirteen and a half.
One of them points to an elderly gentleman, also well dressed, who was heading out the other end of the bar.
"His dog was fifteen and he died two weeks ago."
Silence and sadness for a moment.
"Well, he'll probably get another," I venture hopefully.
"No, he lives alone — that was all he had."
"Yep. You can't replace 'em," the other gentleman remarks as they walk out.
Reminds Me of Bill.
And that reminds me of Bill.
My friend Mark picked him out for me. He was in a litter of eleven pups born to Sadie in the spring of 1973 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His mother was a full-blooded German Shepherd. In heat, she had mated with a Doberman-Pincher and a Great Dane. Some of the pups looked like German Shepherds and others looked like Great Danes and Dobermans.
"He has a thick neck and big paws — he is a good one."
Yep, he looks good. We college students had room for a pup in our backyard at Mimosa Manor.
Ellen, Sadie's owner, had offered a pup to me, but at the moment of giving him away, she picked him up, sadly kissed his fur, and gave him a big hug as she set the little scutter off into that great cruel world. No more would he have ready access to Sadie's teats. No more would he wrestle with his brothers and sisters. No more would he cuddle with mounds of fur on a cool night.
The too, too short life of a puppy's safe, fun life had come to an end.
Bill set up a howl when I picked him up and hauled him off to my pick up truck. You would have thought I was beating him within an inch of his life. Lord did that dog cry!
I named him Bill after one of my favorite uncles. My Uncle Bill has one of those gruff but lovable personalities, and Bill the pup sort of reminded me of him. Once I got him to his new home and fed him some puppy chow and a little milk, I just knew he would settle down. No. He cried all night. My three brothers and roommates kept complaining to me. It didn't help when I moved him from the box and blanket into my room — he still cried.
I finally put him in bed with me and petted him and let him put his cold nose against me, and he quieted down.
The next day, one of my brothers, Danny, had a great idea. He wanted a pup, too, and so he got one of Bill's sisters.
Danny named his dog Dawk. Naturally, Dawk and Bill had a great brother and sister reunion when we got em together. They fought, wrestled, ran, and peed on the rug. We taught them to do their business in the backyard, which was big enough for a couple of pups.
It was a wonderful spring, that spring of 1973. The Vietnam War was in the past for us. I was reunited with my brothers, whom I hadn't seen in years and years. College life was good. Very good.
[Mr. Miles labeled his Dispatch "PART ONE."
The editor, having personally known Bill,
who was a fine, fine dog,
looks forward to reading PART TWO.]
This story is also dedicated to the memory of Kayla, my dear sister Brenda's pup, who passed away last week at the age of 12 years, 11 months, and 7 days at home in Marion.