Sometime in the early 1950s my parents and I left a second-floor apartment on Grand Avenue and moved to a new house at 2422 Dugan Court in Davenport.
Before long I had a pet dog named Pat. Pat was a playful, rambunctious, black and white, medium-sized dog. Perhaps he was a spaniel. I really don’t know; kids don’t care about details like that.
Pat was a handful from Day One. My folks had not yet fenced their back yard, so Pat had to be on a chain when outside. When he escaped, which he seemed to do quite often, he went absolutely wild.
One day I was playing with some toy trucks when Pat made an escape. He grabbed one of my trucks and took off running down the block with it, crossing busy Lincoln Avenue.
I complained to my mother, who hurried after Pat and tried to bring the truck — and Pat — back home.
But Pat would have nothing to do with it. This was a big game for him. Like dogs do he’d crouch down and wait for Mom to get close, then he’d take off.
I don’t believe I got my truck back that day until Pat was darned good and ready to return it. Then, since it was made of rubber, it had his teeth marks in it.
Pat sometimes did stupid things.
He was well fed, but once he apparently chewed on some small pieces of concrete he’d found and swallowed them. We know this because we watched as one by one he threw them up.
Once Pat got away and was gone overnight. I was worried about him. He’d never been gone that long.
The next morning he came slowly limping home, leaving bloody paw prints with each step. We didn’t know where he’d been, but he obviously had walked through a lot of broken glass and had cut all of his paws. I don’t remember if my folks took Pat to the vet or if Mom, a nurse, bandaged his paws.
It would have been late summer or fall of 1953 when Pat “escaped” yet again. But this time he didn’t come back.
My parents told me he had run away. Perhaps he had found a new home, they suggested. They said not to worry — they were sure he was fine.
Pat did, indeed, have a new home. The Humane Society.
Years later my parents confessed that Dad had dropped Pat off there on his way to work. I’m sure that hadn’t been easy for Dad. Even though Pat was what I’d call a “high-maintenance” dog, we all loved him.
When the truth came out about what had happened to Pat, Mom and Dad explained to me that she had been pregnant at the time with my brother.
And they were afraid the rambunctious pet would wrap his chain around her ankle and cause her to fall, endangering the baby.
So they had made up the story about Pat running away because they thought that would be easier for me to accept than the truth.
As a teen, I gave them some flack now and then about how they had deceived me. But in my heart I understood why they had done what they did. I might have done the same thing, had I been in their shoes.
I don’t know if I ever told them, but I forgave them for taking Pat away.
Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.