There once was a dog named George.
My sisters or mom may remember better than me how we ended up giving George his name. Somehow in my single-digit years, mom and dad decided that three kids didn’t make a family chaotic enough and that it was time to have a family dog. So we adopted a mutt that was a lot of things, but mostly German Shepherd. He was black with a light belly, white paws and some brown thrown in. He looked like a dog made by a committee.
I would guess I was 8 or 9 when George arrived. I don’t remember a lot about him, but I recall he was full of energy. George developed a funny habit of running towards the back gate on the side of our house, which allowed him to jump high and peek over the fence. He would do two or three of those jumps in a row if he heard one of us out front.
His abundant energy was too much for our modest yard, so we would occasionally take him over to some nearby vacant fields to run him. Yeah, it was that long ago. There were vacant fields in Torrance. It’s now a housing development. We would drive the car out on the dirt road towards the middle of the field and George would just go nuts. Toss a tennis ball and he couldn’t wait to go get it and bring it back.
As happens with pets and kids, the newness wears off and soon, it became my duty to bury the piles in the backyard. I remember him turning into more of a chore and the fun of having a dog started to fade away. Plus, I had the kids in the neighborhood to hang out with.
One day, while George roamed the backyard looking for something to do, he started sniffing around the bushes. He found a new smell and decided to see how it tasted. Sadly, it was snail poison. We had always put it out in the yard, the snails were something fierce. But apparently, this time, George decided to chow down.
And George was gone.
I remember hearing the news and running back to that gate he once jumped on so he could see the outside world. He rested on top of the garbage cans, wrapped in a blanket and would remain there until the Humane Society folks came by to take him away. I remember hugging him and bawling my eyes out, regretting every moment that I should have been playing with him, wishing to have back every second I resented him.
In those fifty-plus years since my time with George, two other dogs passed through my life. Neither compared to the childhood friend that I enjoyed for only a couple of years, but who has stayed with me ever since. George was a tough act to follow.
The least I could do is write down his story.