Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Dog Named Nosey

Nosey, in a doll stroller, with Cathy

One of my earliest memories is the day our family got a dog. We named her Nosey because she sniffed all around the yard and house when she first came home. She was a pound puppy, and she was loyal.

My twin sister Cordelia and I were 3 years old. I remember one Saturday morning running outside to the front yard and standing there in anticipation as our father pulled up to the curb. He had left that morning for the county pound, but we didn't know it. All we were told was he was coming home with a surprise. At the time, we lived in the Valencia Park community of San Diego, and our street was loaded with kids. Some were there with us, waiting.

Dad walked around to the passenger side of the car and opened the door. I've never forgotten it. Nosey practically fell out of the car, but I'm sure my Dad had carried her down. She didn't have a leash on, but she didn't go anywhere. All five of us -- my brothers and sisters -- started fawning over her. She was the cutest, sweetest little short, black-and-white puppy with floppy ears, part beagle, part Basset hound. I've loved short dogs ever since.

When we moved to La Mesa, a suburb of San Diego, we lived on a cul-de-sac, and Nosey was always outside with us. When we played softball in the traffic circle, she'd stay on the sidewalk as we played. I remember hanging out at our friends' house (Vickie and Sharon, who lived down the street), and Nosey would sit on the lawn in their front yard, waiting for us to come out.

Sally & Nosey
When I was 7, our father won a trip to a convention in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We drove there, stayed a week, and then went for another week to Missouri, where my father grew up. We left Nosey with family friends, who lived 10 miles away. A couple days into it, Nosey got out and ran away. Our friends looked everywhere and couldn't find her. The father decided to check our house. Sure enough, Nosey had made it home and was hiding in a corner of our basement. He left her at our house and went back each day to check on her, feed her and give her water. Nosey had never before been to their house, so it amazed us all that she had found her way home. She was there to greet us when we returned.

When Nosey contracted hepatitis shortly after we moved to La Mesa, when we were still in grade school, the five of us, without our parents, took her to the vet. My brother Michael, the oldest and probably 17 at the time, carried her across the canyon behind our house that led us straight to the nearest veterinary clinic. The vet gave us medicine and said Nosey had to stay overnight, because she was too sick to go home and he wasn't sure she'd make it. All of us said no, that she was coming home with us. We instinctually knew she had a much better chance at home. And we were right.

Once home, we laid her down on the living room floor on a blanket, where she stayed for about a week, barely moving except to eat a little and go outside. I remember that first day, laying my head on the carpeted floor next to her, petting her, and Nosey growling. She wanted to be left alone. So that's what we all did; we gave her space. Within a week, she appeared to be well on the road to recovery. In no time at all, she was back to herself. That illness was probably the only time she ever growled at any of us.

Nosey passed away at 15 years old after suffering a couple of years with arthritis. Even back then, our mother used a natural remedy for arthritis, but at the time we didn't know it was holistic. She had read somewhere that cod liver oil eased the swelling in joints, so she put it on Nosey's food. Nosey was then able to walk up the porch steps for the first time in a long while. It helped for a time until she could no longer move around easily. And she was loaded with either tumors or fatty deposits. To combat California fleas, we regularly put flea powder on her coat, which, back then, was in the form of diatomaceous earth, also natural. Every Sunday, Mother would cook a pot roast, and Nosey would get the bone afterward. Nosey would stand in the kitchen waiting for the bone, along with some carrots and potatoes thrown in for good measure.

Seeing Nosey as a puppy again in this photo brought back the memories. Our mother always called her "the doggie in the window," so she must have been at a window when our father first saw her at the pound (much smaller facilities back then). No wonder all of us kids became animal lovers. Our dad made sure of that when he gave us a puppy -- and, later, Guinea pigs, a parakeet, hamsters, rabbits, fish, a cat, and a horse named Star. Nosey was a member of our family. I still miss her.

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