My father had always wanted a beagle, so when my mother saw the little pup at the pound, she couldn't resist bringing him home. They named the little guy Alexander Graham Bell, because he managed to get himself tangled in the telephone cord almost immediately. He was tiny, energetic and very smart. The two cats, Oliver and Fat Fred, weren't so sure they needed a canine companion, but Oliver did his best to shape Alexander into a cat anyone would be proud of. Alexander tried very hard, but at the end of the day was still a dog, which depressed him to no end. The poor pooch became extremely depressed and then very sick. My parents feared he would die, but eventually he got over his interspecies angst and recovered. Then he grew and grew some more and kept growing until what my parents thought was a beagle became the size of a German Shepherd. They'd adopted their very own Clifford.
As Alexander's size grew, so did his intellect. He was the smartest dog my parents had ever owned and put his canine genius to good use. They used to leave him on the porch in the morning when they went to work and assumed since he was in the same place when they returned that he must laze around the yard all day. That illusion was shattered when they walked him on a leash down to the corner store; everyone started laughing. When my father asked why, the neighbors told them that that dog walked down every morning for coffee and doughnuts with the morning crowd and then rode with the mailman on his daily route. They then found out that he also rode in the milk truck every day and never missed escorting the local kids home from school. Alexander had as full a work schedule as his humans!
I was very small when Alexander passed away, but I've often wondered if he did not so much come to peace with being a dog as decide if couldn't be a cat then he would be a human. Certainly he insisted on sitting in the front seat, paws on the wheel whenever the opportunity presented itself in the car and when my parents got ice cream, they always made sure to get him his own small vanilla, which could only have reinforced the idea of his humanness. He was a proper member of the family after all.
When my mother became pregnant for the first time, Alexander was already an old dog and they worried how he'd handle a baby in the house. As it turned out, he handled it very well. He kept an eye on my older sister all the time, tolerated her eating his dog food and would push my mother out of bed if she cried in the night. When I was born, he started pushing my dad out for Beck and mom out for me. When my younger sister was born, the dog took to sleeping in the hall, so he could keep an eye on everyone. He was truly a remarkable dog.
Author: Marjorie Skiba
Illustrator: Marjorie Skiba
I desperately need more Happy Tails. Contact Marjorie and contribute yours!