Friday, April 3, 2009

Our Dog Skizzle - a short story.

“Wow! A dog!” I stared open mouthed as Daddy sat the dog on the kitchen floor. He wasn’t a big dog, or a little one, just a perfect in between size.

“His name is Skizzle. Be careful with him until he gets to know you.”

My brother, Jimmy, and I exchanged grins. Was this for real? In my entire 10 years on earth, we’d never had a dog.

Daddy left the room to change out of his uniform. We sat in the floor and let Skizzle sniff our hands, our feet. After checking us out, he toured the house, then settled at Daddy’s feet in the living room.

(This picture is of me and Skizzle in front of our house in Waco.)
Jimmy leaned over and nudged me. “Linda. Ask Daddy if he’s ours.” You know how the youngest is elected to ask and more apt to get their way.

“Daddy. Are we keeping him? Is he our dog?”

“Yes. We’ll keep him. If we can train him.” He explained that fox terriers were feisty dogs and stubborn. Skizzle had been given away because he wouldn’t mind his previous owners and the wife was afraid of him. His fate was Daddy or the pound.

This was hard for us to comprehend. Daddy was a Master Sergeant in the Air Force. He ruled our household though Mama dethroned him on certain issues. When told to do something, we obeyed without questions. We sat up straight at the table and carried our fork to our mouth. No propping your elbow on the table and leaning over your plate to reach your fork. We couldn’t imagine a mere dog not minding Daddy.

That night Mama made a bed for Skizzle in the half bath in Jimmy’s bedroom. Skizzle had to be one special dog to get to stay in the house. Daddy grew up on a farm and believed the place for animals was outside.

It’s important to understand the temperament of the fox terrier breed. They are willful, smart and need firm obedience training. Loaded with energy, they love to play and are loyal and devoted pets. A pure breed fox terrier, Skizzle was all this and more. But, he hadn’t had firm obedience training.

The first week was uneventful. Skizzle got to know us and became comfortable in his new home. Then one-day, in the second week, things changed.

Few homes were air conditioned in the 1950’s. We used water coolers or swamp coolers as they’re known in some areas. Not an efficient way of cooling in humid central Texas but it was all we had. And since the bed was directly in front of the airflow, it was a cool spot. There lay Skizzle—smack dab in the middle of Mama and Daddy’s bed. He was chillin’.

Daddy snapped his fingers. “Get down, Skizzle.”

Skizzle looked up and wagged his tail.

Daddy advanced closer to the bed.


Skizzle bared his teeth and growled. Jimmy and I were horrified. Nobody talked to Daddy that way. Not that he’d harm us but his stern look could turn a pouting face into a smile.

Skizzle became airborne the second he realized he wouldn’t win this fracas, flew through the air, landed on the floor and skittered for cover. Daddy didn’t have to do all of the slinging. After dinner his obedience training began—Skizzle was in boot camp.

If there were dog obedience schools back then, we didn’t know about them. People trained their own pets.

Camp began that evening in the garage. Daddy attached a rope to Skizzle’s collar and stepped six feet away. Jimmy and I sat on the steps and watched.

Daddy sat on his haunches at eye level with Skizzle. He whistled.

“Come, Skizzle. Come here, boy.” He patted his leg and pulled on the rope.

Skizzle sat and dug in his paws.

Daddy called again and tugged. Skizzle resisted.

Daddy tried one more time and when Skizzle didn’t move, Daddy yanked him across the garage to him.

The house echoed with howls and curses of the tug of war between Skizzle and Daddy. I didn’t know who would win. Both were determined. I tried to watch. Five minutes and I ran to my room. I covered my head with my pillow.

It took a week. Skizzle didn’t show any signs of abuse but Daddy sported a bite on his hand. From then on when Daddy said, “sit” Skizzle sat and when he said, “stay” Skizzle didn’t move. Not only did he mind Daddy but Mama and us kids too.

You might think Daddy’s dog training method cruel. At the time, I did. It was tough but he never hurt the dog. Skizzle wasn’t afraid of Daddy or cowed like an abused animal. He was crazy about Daddy. Every morning when Daddy kissed Mama goodbye he’d give her a couple of pats on the shoulder or back. Skizzle thought he was hurting Mama and would grab Daddy’s pant leg and around they’d go. Daddy loved it. And tolerated it because Skizzle was protecting Mama. When Jimmy and I fought, as brother and sister are apt to do, Skizzle didn’t like it. He jumped in the middle. He never grabbed our skin, only our clothes.

He was extremely smart. One spring he was sick—throwing up and feverish. He had the Asiatic flu. They had to sedate and muzzle him to treat him. When Mama brought him home from the Vets, he was drunk from the medicine he’d been given.

Since his bed was in Jimmy’s bathroom, if he threw up, it was easy to clean up. Mama would hold him over the toilet sometimes. When we weren’t home, he tried to throw up in the toilet. Being short, he got it on the seat. We’d always thought him a cut above other dogs. From then on we knew so.

Skizzle was a wonderful friend. He loved to play hide-and-seek and chase. Because of our hard wood floors, he usually skidded past his target but quickly regained purchase and made a grab for your pants leg. He always won at both games.

A constant companion, he went everywhere we went. He’d ride on top of the backrest in daddy’s pickup truck, right behind his head. If we stopped all of a sudden, he fell down daddy’s back. All our friends and family knew Skizzle. The gas station owner loved to aggravate him. Skizzle hated him. He’d bare his teeth and bark and snarl. The man would laugh. I always wondered what would’ve happened if Daddy had let him out of the truck.

One day we came home from school to find Skizzle gone. We searched the entire neighborhood hoping to find him in someone’s house as we had once before. But he was nowhere to be found. Daddy believed someone stole him knowing he was a registered dog. He’d been loaned out several times for breeding purposes.

We were heartbroken. Fortunately we were older, teenagers then with other activities and people in our lives. But we mourned for a long time.

Jimmy and I are both in our sixties now. To this day we cherish fond memories of Skizzle’s love and companionship. He was our friend in happy and sad times, never condemning or scolding. He was some dog.

Yep. Skizzle was some dog.
Do you have a favorite pet story from your childhood. If so, tell us about him/her. If not, just leave a short comment and you'll still be entered into the monthly drawing for an ebook.
Thanks for reading!
Linda LaRoque ~ Western Romance with a Twist in Time.
Forever Faithful, Investment of the Heart 5-09, When the Ocotillo Bloom, 7-09, Champagne Books; A Law of Her Own, Desires of the Heart, My Heart Will Find Yours 5-09, Flames on the Sky 10-23-09 from TWRP.


  1. What a great memory, Linda. Your dad sounds like my grandfather when it came to table behavior. I'm sorry Skizzle got stolen. Sounds as if he had a great home with you and your family.

  2. Linda,

    What a great story about Skizzle. I'm sorry he was stolen. What a shame.

    When I was a toddler of 2, the neighbors had a terrior and this dog was very protective of me. If my mother tried to spank me outdoors he'd nip her heels, and she would have to take me inside to discipline me. lol


  3. Oh, Linda--thank you for sending this. It's the kind of thing I write and love--fifties stuff, and sixties with our kids. Dog stories--I have several.The funniest was about some brown, short-haired mongrel we ended up with when we lived in Levelland--near Lubbock. Our children were very young and this dog came into our lives. My husband was determined to teach him to mind and walk on a leash. Every evening, we all went out, Jim leashed Cocoa and tried to make him walk. Jim ended up dragging him down the sidewalk, with the dog's four feet forward, pushing, resisting. In those days,people sat on their front porches in the evenings. My husband and Cocoa provided entertainment--everyone laughed and called out to him. After a month, he gave up and we kept the dog penned in the back yard. It was very funny.Celia

  4. Hi Ann,
    Yes, it is a great memory. My brother and I talk about Skizzle often.

  5. How cute, Sandy. The terrier adopted you, so to speak.

  6. How funny, Celia. Our dog Molly tries to drag us down the street because she wants to run. We need to get her in training.

  7. What a fantastic story. People that do not have animals do not know what they are missing. There is a void in their lives!!


  8. I have to agree, Judy. Our little dog, Molly, sure keeps us on our toes and provides a lot of comfort and joy.

  9. Linda, thanks for sharing our story about Skizzle. It brought back a lot of wonderful memories. I remember getting him in the long hall and holding his legs up and scooting him down the hall on his back. When he finally was able to get up he would just run in place until he could get traction. It was the funniest thing I ever saw and he always kept coming back for more. We do have some good memories.

    Your loving brother

  10. Jimmy, I'm thrilled you read this and left a comment. I don't remember you scooting Skizzle down the hall but I can hear you laughing now. What fun we had!
    Your loving sister,

  11. Very sweet story...well except for the dognapping part. I have a feisty fox/jack russell terrier and a poodle/terrier mix. They both love to play and are super intelligent, but woe to us if they get bored. The fox looks for things (including our own shoes) to bring us in exchange for treats and the poodle drags out all of his toys until we agree to play with him. I wouldn't trade them for anything, but there are definitely some battles of wills.

  12. You never saw Skizzle again. I have tears in my eyes.
    There is nothing like a dog in the family, in those days my dad was a drill sergeant too. He was till the day he died. And his dogs were all well trained and well loved too.

  13. Great story Linda. Memories of the days gone by move all of us, especially as the years left become fewer and fewer. My favored was my papa's dog Spooky. He was just an old mutt but papa's best friend. My biggest butt wuppin' was the day I painted spooky green just to see what he'd look like.

    Michael Davis

  14. Emma,
    Brings you items for excange? How cute. Our Molly keeps bringing us toys until we break down and play with her. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Hi Mary,
    Those drill sergeants can make us mind with a glare, can't they? Thanks for sharing.

  16. Oh, my, gosh, BM. Did the paint come off? I imagine your papa was most upset.

  17. Linda (and Jimmy), I so remember Skizzle. I loved that dog. I also remember how protective he was. On at least one ocassion your mother (my aunt) told my mother that she would have to take skizzle outside to discipline one of you (of course that person was most probably Jimmy) because Skizzle would protect the one getting swatted. I cried when Skizzle was taken. Just like you I kept thinking one day he would just show up again.

    Your cuz,

  18. Cute story, Linda. The memories of our childhood pets mean so much to us, don't they? I often write about my Jack Russell Terrier, Zeke. They're much like a Fox Terrier; in fact, I think they have some Fox in them. Tenacious Terriers, I call them. They all seem to have that quality but are usually loving and loyal.

  19. Great story, Linda. And I love Skizzle's name. :)

    Growing up, us 4 kids had a white german shepard named Tiffany. She was the best! Always protective of us running around our countryside neighborhood. We rode our horses all over the place and she'd run ahead of us, chasing chipmunks and squirrels in the woods alongside the road. When a car would come, we'd simply call, "Tiffany, on the side!" and she'd come running to trot right in front of us, safely on the side of the road. I have a picture of her from when I took photography in High School, and when I find it again, I plan to frame it and put it on my desk. :)

  20. Oh, Linda,

    What a beautiful story. Now I'm a little teary-eyed!! What a lovely memory.

    My childhood dog was a lovely Australian Silky terrier. We named her Tiger before we found out she was a girl, at which point she became Tiger Lily.

    Every day I walked home from school. When I reached the beginning of our own special lane, I would call her name and whistle. She would race down the street every single day to walk me home.

    I still miss that sweet and wonderful dog...

    Thanks for the memories, Linda!!

    Chiron O'Keefe

  21. Thanks for leaving a comment, Anna. We spent so much time together I'm sure you were as attached to him as we were.

  22. Lucy,
    I love Jack Russells. They are so cute, but you're right they are full of energy. I've read they need a job to stay busy and out of trouble--or several kids to run them ragged.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  23. Stacey Jo,
    Dogs are so smart. Shepherds are another breed I like. I'd enjoy having one if our house was bigger. Right now we have a part fox terrier part Chihuahua.
    It sounds like you had a fun childhood.

  24. How cute, Chiron. How long before you knew she was a girl? Tiger Lily is a beautiful name.
    Animals are such wonderful companions.

  25. Oh, what a sweet story! Sorry Skizzle was stolen! My 'Chance' (an adorable sheltie I had for 13 years) passed away two weeks ago. Animals are such an important part of our lives, aren't they?

  26. Lauri,
    I'm so sorry about your sheltie. Yes, they quickly become lasting friends.

  27. Linda,

    Thanks for the sharing of such a wonderful memory!

    Love ya!

  28. What wonderful memories of Skizzle! We have our second Rat Terrier and love her! She is long legged and looks alot like your Skizzle only thinner. We lost our first Rat Terrier, Perky, last October. She was 12 and blind. Both are/were very smart and good tempered dogs. Not too much barking and they LOVE attention. When I was little, about 10 I think, I had a farm cat named Daisy...yes she was yellow along with her sister, Buttercup. Although she lived in the barn, she would bring presents to my second story window. Things like dead birds and mice! I would let her in the window... but not with those presents!! Anyway, one day she came in and had her kittens in the middle of my bed!!! How wonderful was that! It felt so good that she trusted me that much! Of course it was not so could for my antique, ivory, popcorn bedspread. How neat that your brother commented to your post!

  29. Just found this post Linda. What a great story, and such a shame Sizzle was stolen, one can only hope he ended up in a good home, it's awful not knowing what's happened to a beloved pet. I have a rescued Jack Russell who sounds very much like Sizzle in many ways - but unlike Sizzle he's been very obedient from day one, not that he doesn't get into mischief sometimes, he's a great character. I think he's so obedient because he was abused and neglected for so long before he was rescued.

    The first dog I remember properly (my family always had dogs|) was Bob, a long tailed Cardiganshire Corgi, he too was a great character. We lived close to a garage and he'd go every lunch time and try to con the mechanics out of their lunch! Everyone knew him and I grew up with him and used to go for long walks with him in the woods. It was a very sad day when he died at 14 years old.

  30. Hi MarthaE,
    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. My cousin has Rat Terriers and they're loaded with personality. Such a sweet story about your cat and her babies. There is nothing like the love and trust of an animal.

  31. Hi Lyn,
    I think I've seen pictures of your Jack Russell. They're wonderful dogs. Bob sounds like he was a real charmer. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  32. Hi Big Sis!

    I loved reading about Skizzle - wish I could have witnessed the bedroom showdown between him and Daddy. Hope to read more about when you and Jimmy were kids.

    Love You,

  33. Hi Barbie,
    Yes, Daddy was crazy about Skizzle, as we all were. I'll see what I can come up with on those stories.
    I'm so pleased you stopped by and are a follower of my blog now. I'll be sending you a copy of the excerpt cookbook Recipe for Romance, Vol. 1.
    Hope you'll come back often.