Even the Faithful Make Mistakes
The experiences with Happy usually ended with the dog being lauded, but at least once he unintentionally caused my calm father to a fast manifestation of discipline. Dad, Happy, and I had been squirrel hunting. We left our brand new 1953 Oldsmobile 88 on the dirt road east of our house and spent the afternoon following the calls of our dog when he treed a squirrel. We had bagged several squirrels that Grandma Watkins would be so happy to fry for my grandfather.
Just as we returned to the car we saw a six ducks land on a neighbor’s pond. We knew that Happy would spook the ducks and put him in the car to wait our return. Happy was very angry to be left behind and barked until we could no longer hear him. The attempt to kill the ducks and the return to the car provided no reason for happiness. Instead, Happy had tried to escape through the headliner of our new car. The inside of the car looked someone had hung shreds of crepe paper from the steel retainer bars.
Dad went ballistic. I had never seen my Dad explode. The first new car for Dad in ten years looked like the aftermath of a New Year’s Eve party. He reached into the car and grabbed our dog by the nape of the neck and cast him out of the car and skidding upside down into the ditch. It was a blessing that Happy high-tailed it and left the scene of the crime or we might well have had a family funeral. Happy finally found the nerve to return to the house late that evening, and he was verbally abused for the damage. By then Dad had realized that we had left the poor dog in a situation he could not understand or bear. Within days Happy had regained his pedestal in the family and took his place on his rug in the kitchen near the stove.