One time I had a dog. His name was Pogo. Now, the reason his name was Pogo was that he reminded me of a cartoon character by the same name. I acquired Pogo from a friend of mine, Henry Martin Green who lived only a few blocks from me. We did a lot of things together. Had some good times. One day while I was visiting their home seeing my friend, he pointed out that they had a new set of puppies and that they were really cute little pups. Around back, under the edge of their house, the mother dog had delivered her puppies. There were about six of them. Normal looking dogs. They looked like a cross between a Jack Russell Terrier and a Corgi. Short legged, barrel chested and colored up like a Jack Russell. Anyway, in looking at the cute little puppies, I noticed that one was a runt. Not only was he a runt, his tail was only about half as long as it should have been. It was stubby. So, that set him apart. I had heard my grandfather say one time that the smartest dog in a litter would be the runt. So, when Henry Martin's mother looked longingly at me and said, "Bill, don't you want one for yourself." "You need a nice little dog and you can have one of them." They were give-away dogs anyway, not selling dogs. Without consulting anyone I said I wanted one of them and that I wanted the little runt. They were happy I chose that one because they were afraid that no one would want him and they would be stuck with Pogo. So, I reached down into the crate they were in and picked up my little runt of a dog. I hit the jackpot! Pogo turned out to be really smart and he also loved all the kids around our house in those days. My mother was always a person who "rolled with the punches" so she didn't mind my bringing home a puppy. She just said, "O.K. now Bill, he is your responsibility." "You take care of him."
Everyone loved Pogo. He would run and play with us, chase us and generally spend his whole day right with us. If I rode my bike up to B&S Grocery on 12th Street, Pogo wanted to go. If I went squirrel hunting, Pogo was my squirrel dog. He was great! Another thing about this great little fellow is that he was simply what he was...a dog... and he seemed to know that. He lived in a day when dogs were dogs and they had not almost reached the status of being a human being as they have today. He never got sick. He didn't have to have a check up every few months like many today do. He ate table scraps on a plate out the back door. Pogo would not have recognized some of the dog foods of today as something to eat. He wanted pork chop bones, rice and gravy, pieces of biscuits, butter beans and anything else we had on the dinner table. Pogo never ate food from the table. He was a yard dog, the most common kind in the fifties. If they got a little sick, they ate grass. That's how we knew something was wrong with their stomach. Musta been the string beans or the corn on the cob! But, he got over it pretty quick. In the summer he would lounge on the front porch in the shade and in the winter we would let him in once in a while if it was really, really cold. He loved the gas space heater in our living room. We petted him like that. He was Pogo and we loved him.
One thing our little friend didn't like was a bath. It was my job to bathe him because he had bonded better with me than he had with some of the others and he wouldn't get so agitated with me doing it. I would fill a number 3 washtub, put in the dish detergent and scrub him until he was clean. He always seemed to appreciate the bath after it was all over. He would run around the house several times and then rub himself dry in the grass. Lotta good the bath did!
Pogo was bad to chase cars. No matter how much I scolded him about it and told him of the danger of those tires, he just didn't care what I said. He would look at me as if he understood exactly what I was saying about the tires but he also carried a look on his face which said, "Awww, o.k., I'll be good but I'm probably gonna to do it again." And he did! Actually, I talked to Pogo a lot. He never got mad at me or insulted me in any way. I would sit in the swing on the front porch and Pogo would sit right by me. We had many good discussions. I remember how he would roll his head from side to side with his ears sticking straight up looking all the time like he was trying to understand all I was saying to him. If I suddenly quit talking and focused my attention on something else, Pogo would remind me of our conversation by snuggling up closely to me and nudging my arm with his nose or paw as if to say..."I'm still here. Let's keep talking." The look in his eyes and the expression on his face told me that he was understanding more than I imagined.
I recall how protective Pogo was of all us kids. If another dog came in the yard, a real dog fight ensued. He was only about ten inches at the shoulder but he was stocky and weighed about twenty-five pounds. But he was quick and could hold his ground against just about any breed that invaded his territory. German Shepherds would run from him. The only dog I ever saw him shy away from was a Doberman Pincer and I would have done that too! But, if a strange dog ever seemed to threaten one of the kids in our family, the fight was on. He stood his ground and protected us. Good dog!
People of today take on a real responsibility if they have a dog. The Veterinarian costs as much as a doctor for your kid today. In Augusta, where I now live, there are emergency rooms for pets! They give them scans to see what might be amiss with their legs or internal organs just like they would a human being. Costs a lot too! Surgeries, medicines, diets and just about anything else are a necessity if you plan to own a dog today. Expensive. Pogo wasn't. He got his shots but that was it. It cost about seven dollars in those days to take your canine friend to the Vet. I know of a person who spent $2,000 for a high-bred little dog and it had heart problems! How about that! Then he took the mutt to the experts at the University of Georgia and spent a bankroll on trying to help the little fellow. Didn't work. After all the trouble and expense, he expired! Went to dog heaven! Many of the dogs today have health problems because the puppy mills have overbred the dogs to the point that their genetics are all screwed up. Its a wonder they don't meow when they try to bark. Anyway, this person had several thousand dollars in their little canine buddy and then he died at only about nine months of age. The best dogs in the world came out from under someone's porch in South Georgia. Someone would call and say, "hey, I've got some pointer bird dog puppies under my back steps, you want one?" And, they were good dogs most of the time. People were always glad to get a good bird dog or coon dog from under someone's porch. Inexpensive and mostly trouble free. Plus, they liked table food too! "Scrape all those scraps off into that aluminum pie pan and give it to ole' Blue. He'll eat it. Didn't need a food disposal in those days.
Anyway, back to Pogo. We had him for about seven years. One day mother called me at a friend's house and told me to come home that Pogo had been killed by a car. I felt like the world crashed down on me. When I drove up in my little 49 Ford, I saw Pogo lying on the side of the street next to the curb. Sure enough, he was gone. I collected myself enough to deal with his body but it took me several days to feel just right. I asked did anyone know who ran over him because they said he was not chasing a car. It turned out to be an individual who lived in sight of our house. He drove a big white Cadillac and that's what took Pogo out. Never had liked the man and now....well....he never stopped to apologize or offer any sympathy which said a lot to me about him. If he is in heaven today, I hope St. Peter ran ScanDisc and defrag on him before he entered the Pearly Gates.
About sixty years have gone by since Pogo died but I still think of him often. Whenever someone tells me about a good dog they have, I usually recall the best little canine friend I ever had; Pogo.
William F. Harrell