There is apparently a very tiny storage area in my brain dedicated to remembering people I’ve lost touch with for years or even decades. Normally it’s dormant, but once in a while a neuron fires or something and I suddenly recall one or more of those people. And don’t try to kid me–you know you have the same tiny storage area.
So today it was Don and Pat . They were my next-door neighbors in Norfolk, where I only lived for a year. The morning after our first night at the house, I let the dog out, and next thing I knew, there was a terrible braying racket from next door. What the hell? I thought. Do the neighbors have a donkey?
It turned out to be a Basset Hound named Droopy. Don and Pat were kind of apologetic about that, saying their grandchildren named him. I thought it was perfect. The long ears, the long drooly dewlaps.
Droopy had only one major problem, which is that he weighed 90 pounds. Now, Bassetts are pretty hefty dogs, but…still. Pat told me that all three of them were on a diet, but they were having a lot of trouble with it. When they were having snacks, Droopy wanted whatever they were having (of course), and they could not deny him. He looked so sad if they tried to keep from it. (A specialty of Bassett Hounds–looking sad.) So they were feeding him peanut butter and chocolate.
Diplomatically I said, “Chocolate? Shit, Pat, you are killing your dog!” And she said, “I know. I just can’t help it.” Damn. After that, there is nothing left to say.
My dog at the time, Troy Russell, was ever so glad to have a dog playmate. He and Droopy would run the fence between our two yards and pose in mock-fighting stances and yak it up. The only thing that could stop them was if one of the people came out. It would be hard to overemphasize how fearful TR was of people.
But Don, bless his heart, made it his mission to get TR to allow him to touch him. Every day, Don would stand patiently by the fence. That would scare TR away. But he was torn between his desire to play with Droopy, and his fear of Don. I am so lucky. I was there the first time TR allowed Don to touch him. I swear, it was a magical moment. I don’t know how to describe it. It was like the first video of men walking on the moon.
After that, Don kept being there every day. He would scratch TR behind the ears and say, “How you doin’, buddy?”. It was an absolute turning point for TR. He never got to the point where he was totally comfortable with strangers, but he stopped being sure that everyone was out to kill him. He was willing to give strangers a chance.
So then I moved away. It was 1999. After that, there were a couple of letters back and forth and a Christmas card or two (that’s before I had email) and then, it drifted off. As things tend to do when you don’t have email or Facebook.
Troy Russell was about six years old when we moved there. Still young and full of life despite his fears. He was a red Chow mix, fluffy all over with a great flag of a tail. He lived to be 13, which shocked everyone who knew him (especially me).
Troy Russell resides in a different compartment from the “Whatever Happened…” one. That one I really can’t access unless that random neuron fires. TR is in the “I could remember this if I wanted to, I just don’t want to” compartment.
Did you check to see if they’re on FB?
I don’t remember their last names.