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The Farm

Shadow and Prince


No reminiscence of the farm would be complete without the mention of Shadow and Prince.  These two dogs were family and they had the run of the place inside and out. The pair represented an untethered carefree existence with people-centered interests.  Sometimes together or separately they would follow us in our play while we ignored their four-footed desire to join in.  They rested where they wished, many times atop the square iron lid of the water well which sat ground level between the farmhouse and the milk house. Because of what it covered, that metal cap was probably cool in the summer and warm in the winter. When we would arrive for visits, the barking pair would follow our car down the drive from the road to the yard.  They seemed to be excited we were there.  Prince was a collie and real Lassie look-alike that belonged to uncle Jim.  Shadow was a smaller mixed breed with soft brown hair and belonged to my cousin Kurt who lived in a house his father, my uncle Carl, built next door in the 1940’s.  Kurt said she was called Shadow because she would follow the family around everywhere.  My uncle Willie, also known as “Boots” or “Bootsie” to the family, said Shadow would follow him into the fields, always running beside his tractor managing to stay within the shadow cast by the rolling farm equipment.  Later, uncle Willie presented Kurt with a small beagle he would call “Speedy”, because he wasn’t.           

At home, I remember begging for a dog of my own and finally got one.  It was a small black puppy. I called him “Puddles” but can’t remember why.  He was relegated to the basement.  I say “he” but at whatever age I was at the time I didn’t even think about the gender of people, let alone animals. I went to bed the first night we had him but couldn’t fall asleep because I was upstairs in bed away from him.  Then he began to whimper. It was a mournful sound whose cries made its’ way up two flights of stairs and into my room. My ears were the target.  I pleaded to have the poor soft, tiny dog be with me in my room.  My emotional reasoning went nowhere but after my whining melded with the dogs’ whimpering, I was granted access to the basement to lend comfort to my little friend. I wanted to be with him and that was approved by my parents as well, at least for a while.  I laid my head down on a pillow next to Puddles on the remnant piece of corrugated cardboard he had occupied.  I was covered up with a blanket and slowly stroked his head.  I fell asleep in the basement as he quieted down.  As Whitman has been paraphrased over the decades – “...We were together, I forget the rest”.

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