There’s something about kids and dogs, I think, that appeals to photographers; something that speaks of the sweetness of childhood, of unconditional love.
Here we are, my brother and I, with our first family dog. I don’t remember the photographer, but the backdrop suggests it was a formal affair, probably in
someplace in the late 1940s. Boston
His name was Ferdinand, and he belonged to my mother; he was a college graduation gift from her parents in 1941.
He was named for a bull in a storybook my mother had loved—a bull who wasn’t very “bullish,” which is to say that he spent his afternoons lying down in Farmer Brown’s field sniffing the wildflowers.
My father, who was a lifelong dog lover, told us that the only reason he married our mother was to get her dog—an excellent reason to marry, he said.
We believed him.
When I was about five years old, we moved from
Boston to . Portland, Maine
Ferdinand came with us, of course, and settled in the neighborhood. We lived near a private school playground, and Ferd spent recess there every day, playing with the children: dodgeball, catch, tag; he was such a part of the community that the kids would knock on our back door to ask if he could come outside!
Summers he spent with us at our grandparents’ summer home, near a lake at the foot of
Monadnock in , swimming, chasing squirrels
and chipmunks, sleeping in our beds. New Hampshire
He loved car rides, walks, and Oreos.
When it came time for him to take his Last Ride, my father, teary-eyed, lured him out of the house with Oreos, one after the other, talked him down the walkway to the Ford; he lifted him into the front passenger seat, got behind the wheel and drove Ferdie away...
...it was a long, long time before we ate Oreos in my house again!