I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Friday, 27 March 2015

Out of my depth

Sorry, I misled you all. Roger belonged to a non-photographic era; this is a not-very-close approximation. Far too active for one thing
I'm writing about Roger simply because it's so difficult. He was my parents' dog and may have arrived about the same year I did: 1935. If so he and I co-existed without mutual recognition for at least five years. I have no connected memories of this period. For all I know we may have harboured a rhinoceros as a pet.

I started becoming aware of things in 1940 which, you will observe, is not entirely surprising. I first knowingly met Roger beneath the dining room table; I'd gone there when I heard my father tell my mother the country was at war. I have the impression Roger was a hound rather than a mere dog. He had a rough orange coat and his head tapered into a disappointing, grizzled snout.

At some point I started to tease Roger, a general tendency I still haven't completely suppressed. I remember the wounded look on his face. Then he snarled. My mother uttered a corrective noise and, pigheaded though I was, I saw Roger's next reaction would be to snap. I didn't tease him again for several hours, never pushing him beyond snarling. A dull family anecdote ensued, my mother announcing from time to time that Roger hadn't bitten me. True but uninteresting. There were lots of things Roger never did.

My mother told me that when I was younger, passing through my non-remembering period, Roger stood up abruptly late one evening, the hair bristling down his spine, and growled. From this my mother advanced a theory about the existence of ghosts. In her thirties she took to writing novels and poetry.

Roger was eventually "put down", my first experience of this phrase. Even then I recognised it didn't work as a euphemism - the heartlessness was in no way disguised.

7 comments:

Avus said...

Interesting looking dog - yes I think he had hound tendencies.

Good to think that your childhood companion is remembered some 70 years later,perhaps with some regret when you think of how you sometimes annoyed him (a quite forbearing animal)

The Crow said...

Roger was merely doing his elder dog duty and putting a rambunctious, unmannered young pup in his place. That he didn't bite meant you took his point.

Our dogs train us well, don't they?

Lucy said...

Looks like he might have been an Airedale beagle?

Roderick Robinson said...

Avus/Crow: No regrets whatsoever. Heck I was only seven and had yet to pass though my little-savage period of development. What was I at that age supposed to do with a dog - maintain a Socratic dialogue? I worry about your anthropomorphising; perhaps I should delete "wounded"". My impression (and that's all it is, these events date back to the start of recorded time) is that he didn't bite me because it would have required too much effort.

Lucy: You know far too much about me; you're now able to devise quite plausible fantasies which leave me wondering about my own forgetfulness.

Stella said...

Was Roger the Airedale Beagle allowed to live out his life or was he cut down for menacing the toddlers? How did your mother channel Roger's powers and how did this activity impress your dad? Give me more on the Family Robinson!

Roderick Robinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roderick Robinson said...

Stella: Tried a literary joke as answer, it didn't work, hence the deletion. Roger lived out his life and was only put down when it became medically necessary. I think my mother took a pragmatic view: if I teased the dog then I was foolishly risking getting nipped and she wasn't going to work too strenuously to prevent it. Welcome to the big world, son.

Channel Roger's powers? My impression is these were languid, perhaps even needed revealing.

My father. Then a distant, unsympathetic figure. Eg: My mother (pointing to me ill in bed): He thinks he's got polio. Father: If he thinks that then he'll get polio.

In a sentence: The family Robinson was dysfunctional (all of us) and my parents' divorce was the only sensible solution. I am still learning how this has continued to affect my life.