Around the time I was 2, a small brown ball of fluff came into my life. It was love at first site for both of us. He was very determined and although my mom tried to run him off, he kept hanging around and finally won her over.
At the age of two you are not too creative with names and since he was a brown puppy I named him Brownie. He was a mixture of cocker spaniel and mutt. He had the dark brown wavy hair, just not as long, and the head and sweet temperament, but was too tall for a true-blooded cocker. But he certainly looked like a cocker.
We quickly became the best of friends and he was my shadow from sunup till dark. He was content to follow me around all day or lay by my side when I took a nap. We were inseparable.
When I would run away to visit the neighbors, anywhere in a two-block radius, he would go along with me. This trip had a purpose, to find out who was baking that day. Then to get an invitation to sample the cookies, pie or cake they had baked. When I finally was invited into a house, he would patiently wait for me on the porch.
Then when Mom finally missed me, she would call Brownie, and he would run home to her. Then she would find the littlest twig from a tree that she could find and follow him back to where I was. I was usually sitting in someone’s kitchen happily munching on the cookies or cake. Mom would take me home with the switch hitting my bare leg about every three or four steps.
When mom finally got me home, Brownie was my crying towel. I would sit on the porch step, with Brownie by my side and cry my eyes out with my arms wrapped around his neck and my head on his shoulder. He patiently endured the soaking, and waited for me to stop crying so we could start the next adventure.
I never figured out how mom always knew where I was, and I never even suspected him of squealing on me. But I didn’t learn anything from the switching, and would go on the hunt for cookies the next day. Mom finally told me years later how she always found me.
Brownie was so tolerant that I could do almost anything to him. He would sit with me while I made mud pies, then when I thought they were ready we would have a tea party. I would dress him up in play clothes and he would sit in a little chair at the table with me. Sometimes I would even push him in a buggy.
You could tell he wasn’t having any fun, but we were together and that was all that mattered to him. We were best buddies and whatever adventure I wanted to embark on was ok with him, as long as he was included.
As tolerant as he was, there were two things that he would not allow. You did not dare touch his stubby tail or blow in his face. Now, why couldn’t I resist trying both every now and then to see if it could be done this time?
It is a wonder that my nose is not an inch shorter than it is, because when I would blow in his face he would nip my nose before I was able to get out of striking range. He had the speed of a rattlesnake behind his strike. When I would start to cry and whine about him biting my nose, mom would just laugh at me, and then tell me it was my fault and not his. I would try to pull his tail but he could spin on a dime and bite the hand that fed him. But then in a few seconds all was forgiven and we were off again.
When my folks hid Easter eggs for me they had to put Brownie in the room with me. If Brownie was with them while they hid the eggs, he would follow dad around and remember where each one was.
Then when I came out to hunt them, he would go to each place in turn and put his nose on the hiding spot and then move on to the next one. He never tried to pick the eggs up; he just wanted to show me where they were.
Brownie received very few snacks off the table, but the one thing he dearly loved and would not be denied was pancakes. Before we started our meal of pancakes, mom would fix Brownie a plate.
She would put butter and syrup on them and cut them up so he could pick them up easily. The last thing was to lay a pat of butter on the side of the plate. But once in awhile she would forget. Then he would just look at the plate and then at her and back at the plate until she figured it out. Once the butter was on the plate he would eat the pancakes. The pat of butter was saved till the last, just like it was dessert.
Every spring when it warmed up my dad would shave his curly hair off. It was his one and only haircut each year. He must have really loved the feeling when it was gone, because he would make 4 laps around the house at a dead run before he would stop.
He always had this very happy look on his face that looked like a very wide grin to me. Then it was a bath on the lawn with the garden hose and shampoo. When dad turned him loose again it was another 4 laps around the house and a good healthy roll in the grass. Oh the freedom of a crew cut, no more brushings for a while.
When I was a little older and I got into trouble with my mother, he would stand between mom and I and wouldn’t let her spank me. He would growl and act really fierce. But in the long run he didn’t do me any favors, because he would not challenge my dad. It just put off the spanking and my dad could spank a lot harder than mom could. It would have been better if he’d let my mom spank me instead. But maybe this was his revenge for the tail pulling and blowing in his face.
My 14 years with Old Brownie was the beginning of my love for Cocker Spaniels. I discovered that they are the sweetest breed around. He was the reason I welcomed Cockers into my life later and then decided to do therapy work with them. To contact Sandy: firstname.lastname@example.org