Our First Dog, Shopping for a Goldfish, We Bought a Puppy
Me, him, Dennis and Fred
When my man and I married Christmas 1972 I was not keen on owning a dog as in truth I was a little scared of dogs.
But my new husband soon began making plans to buy a dog and he wanted a German Shepherd or Alsatian.
To someone like me, frightened of dogs, such a prospect was daunting.
Hull Fair a large annual touring fair that hits town early in October had been and gone for another year and we had acquired, or rather won, two goldfish.
Back then a win on a darts stall at the fair could see you carrying home a poor little goldfish in a small plastic bag filled with water.
Yes such goldfishes were a star prize!
Many of these fish were then kept in small bowls until they quickly passed away neglected and forgotten.
We won two fish and splashed out on a decent sized fish tank for them. In reality with all the trimmings it had cost more than we could afford.
Dennis and Fred, yes we named them, enjoyed a brief but seemingly happy coexistence for a few months until Dennis quietly passed away.
Poor Fred would swim around looking more soulful than ever and so it was decided he needed a friend.
If you are wondering where our first dog comes into the story, read on.
In 1973 pet shops in England often had puppies for sale in their windows
These were a sad sight to see and it left you wondering just who might buy them.
There were less regulations in the U.K. at that time.
As we arrived at our city centre pet shop in January 1973 to purchase a new goldfish, a replacement for Dennis, a young woman was talking to the assistant and she was handing over a cute looking puppy.
He was not a tiny puppy and it turned out he was around 12-weeks-old.
This small liver coloured cross Labrador was very cute. Of course, nowadays, I realize that all puppies are very cute.
His dark fur showed his pale pink lips and nose in all their glory and he had a gleaming white chest plus huge paws.
As the assistant popped the dog into the window, the two women noticed our curiosity.
I still am not quite sure how the following happened but it did
The pup was taken back out of the window for us to inspect. He was affectionate and I thought he was so sweet and small that I could surely easily handle him.
I had not noticed his huge paws a sure sign he would not stay small for long.
At the time money was in very short supply for us but he was not costly.
The woman explained that this dog had been an unwanted and unexpected Christmas gift and with three small children to contend with he was proving hard work.
She told us he was almost trained and he certainly seemed very affectionate.
She charged us the princely sum of £1.50 for this pup and that price included his collar and lead.
By the time we left the pet shop though we had spent a small fortune on a basket, toys and food.
I carried him through the city centre and was stopped by passers by over and over again.
Each person remarked how cute the dog was, gave him a pet, wished him well and smiled happily. I was amazed at the attention the dog got.
He trotted the last few streets home on his lead walking well and looking adorable.
We considered all the usual dog names and in the end settled on Drupi.
This was because a favourite song at the time, Vado Via, was sung by an Italian man called Drupi.
That name was a little bit odd but in some ways prophetic.
Drupi's mouth hung down at the sides and if he was looking at food or the like he would slobber much like Hooch in the film Turner and Hooch.
The name Drupi though was a pain when you had to try and call him as it got a mixed response from passers by.
Drupi was partially trained and very clean but still needed paper and a tray down at night. I caught him one night stood with his front feet in the tray as he pee-ed all over the floor but I could not scold him and just had to laugh.
Drupi was usually one of those naturally healthy dogs.
This dog was always a little lean but never ill. His one trip to the vet was after chewing a wasp or similar stinging insect. With a huge lop-sided mouth, that looked as if he had swallowed a football, we had to literally run to the vets. He was given an antihistamine injection and all was soon well.
Drupi suffered a strange illness one day and could not raise his back legs
We were at a loss as to what was wrong and prepared to visit the vets but I when nipped to the bathroom I saw that a full bar of soap had been demolished.
No wonder Droops felt ill.
He did not usually destroy things and the soap episode was unusual for him but that was set to change.
After owning him for a year Hubby brought home a stray dog.
This dog joined us for ten years chewing anything and everything he could get his teeth into. He tormented Drupi and wanted to be top dog plus was a bad influence I guess and eventually we had a pair of chewing dogs.
When he died Drupi got a new lease of life although he was aged about 11 by then, plus his behaviour reverted to exemplary and he began going almost everywhere with me again.
Time took its toll and as he entered old age Drupi became a little deaf.
He knew he was not allowed on the furniture but I guess he had always jumped clear before we entered our home. Now I would walk in to find Drupi curled up on the best armchair fast asleep. I would tickle his ears with my gloves and he would wake up looking as if to say "damn she's caught me again".
Drupi gave us love, affection, loyalty, protection, entertainment, exercise and so much more over the years
After years of chasing upstairs after us he had a couple of falls. It had been impossible to stop him running up the stairs and he paid the price. He started to have strange turns when he could not stand up or would fall over.
We could not let him suffer though; he was aged almost 19 by then and a great age really.
Once he began to look at us with pleading eyes the decision was made.
The vet said that he doubted Drupi would simply drift off but that we would, sooner or later, have to euthanize him.
It was very hard and broke my husband's heart so much so that he vowed he could never go through that again. He had accompanied Drupi to the vets with his friend.
Successive pets have had both of us stay with them until the very end with one dog actually dying at home.
After around five years my man felt it was time to look for another dog
We took a cross Alsatian adult dog from our local RSPCA and he was such a sweet dog, but that's another story.
However Drupi had given me a confidence around digs and I began a lifelong love of dogs.
Sadly we only have a few images of Drupi as cameras and film developing were not cheap in 1973 but we have such wonderful memories of a very special dog and he will always occupy a place of love in my heart.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2010 Ethel Smith