Hey that’s me, fresh out of the womb! Beside me, Harold, our cocker spaniel, who had a few months on me. His worldliness had always made me feel inferior. Named after Harold MacMillan, a British PM (or so I am led to believe, there are no other Harolds of note, Hark the Harold Angels Sing notwithstanding). Named by my dad for reasons of his own. Physical likeness to the PM? His pragmatism, wit, and unflappability?
Harold (the canine version, not human) lived a goodish life, til he was about 13, when his life took a turn for the worse: he died. Memories are mainly of him in either the pursuit or consumption of food, a fair summary of my life to this point.
One time he ate our dinner at a campground in southern Manitoba, a few steaks and a 12 pack of weiners. Dogs seldom refuse food, if one does, it should be taken to a vet for an immediate psych evaluation. After The Incident, it was agreed that shortening Harold’s rope would prevent future barbecued meat binges.
After that, on his birthday, he would get a special treat: either a cooked steak, or a 12-pack of weiners, which he would wolf down in a most unsatisfying manner, especially when he would follow it up with a doggy look of ‘what’s next?’ I know what you’re all thinking, and yes, we did specially barbecue the weiners, not just give him 12 raw hot dogs. We’re not barbarians.
Other great memories: hosing him down in the basement, removing his ticks and burrs. These activities were always fraught with peril given his tendency to snap at any assault on his body. He would likewise make aggressive overtures to the milkman (4am delivery back in the day, frozen 2 litre milk popsicles in 50 below winters), the paperboy, and the mailman. He despised these uniformed invaders of his territory, how they plagued him.
He would chase a tennis ball, which my father would hit with a tennis racquet. Both ball and dog would become dots on the horizon. The balls would return slathered with a viscous fluid and be rendered useless. One could also throw a Frisbee or stick, neither of which would be returned. Harold only liked the tennis ball.
Okay, he was no prize winner (even of the ‘participant’ variety) , and he was the opposite of obedient, but he was OUR dog. He was faithful to us, and despised almost everyone else until ‘he got to know you’. That usually entailed a prolonged visit, dinner, drinks, cigars in the parlour, dancing by moonlight. My Nanna came to visit and they got on like a house on fire by the end of it. Mind you, she stayed a month or so.
Thanks for reading about Harold! Here’s a picture of Harold refusing food from my Nanna.