Now at this time, I was about 6 or 7 years old and used to go to bed at 7:00 p.m. Because of his work shift, my step-dad only got home around 8:00 p.m. After about a year of trying to adopt, my step-dad called home one night and told my mom to keep me up until he got home as he had a surprise. He said it was a little boy about 9 weeks old. I was so excited because I thought, finally I was getting a little brother and I wouldn’t be the baby any more. Around 8:00 p.m. that night in walks my step-dad carrying a cardboard box. I thought it very funny that my new baby brother would be in box! My step-dad put the box down on the floor and, to my surprise, out popped this little brown head that started licking me in the face. It was a new puppy and boy did he every look funny! He looked like an oversized sausage. I didn’t know it was because he was a dachshund and he was supposed to look like that. He was soooo cute and tiny and we called him Prince.
My mom spent 3 months sleeping on the sofa training him. She trained him not to go on the furniture, not to go up the stairs to the second floor where the bedrooms were, and not to go in the dining room where we always ate. We had a huge front lawn with no fence and she even trained him to stay on the lawn. Not one paw touched the sidewalk without permission.
With the type of shift that my step-dad worked (he worked on the commuter trains), he was always able to come home during the day for a nap. One day he came home, took one look at Prince and said “come on boy, let’s go to bed”. That’s all it took – after all that training, he was now allowed to go upstairs and sleep on my parents bed. Next thing we knew, he was allowed up on the sofa. But that’s all my mom gave into – Prince was still not allowed in the dining room unless my mom gave the O.K. If we were eating dinner, Prince would sit on the edge of the doorway and not even his nose would cross that threshold. If my step-dad called him in to get a piece of food, Prince would look at my mom first and wait for her to give the O.K. and then he would slink in, take the food and then dash back out.
Whenever we would be playing outside the front of the house, Prince would always be out there too, sitting on the lawn. There were no concerns that he would run away. The only time that he was allowed off the front lawn was when my step-dad would be coming down the street. My step-dad would take the bus home whenever he came home during the day and he always had a set time to arrive. Mom would let Prince out the front to sit and wait. We always knew when my step-dad would be coming down the street because Prince would be sitting on the corner of the lawn wagging his tail so much you would think he was going to take off. My mom would wait a few minutes and then say “go on Prince” and Prince would take off down the street to meet my dad, give him a big Hello and then run back home to wait. It got to the point the neighbours all knew when my step-dad would be coming down the street just by watching Prince’s tail go.
My step-dad was a big hockey fan and Prince would always sit and watch the games with him. My step-dad would sing the National Anthem and Prince would sing right along with him. I thought this was so great to think we had a dog that could sing that I entered him in a talent show put on by our local park. I watched as all the other dogs did these really neat tricks. When it came to my turn, I got up my courage and started singing the National Anthem expecting Prince to join right along. All he did was lie there and sleep! I was so embarrassed! I guess my voice just wasn’t deep enough. I should have gone with the "cookie on the nose" trick.
When Prince was about a year old we got a kitten we called Mittens (she was allowed to sleep with me). For the most part Prince and Mittens got along fine, unless the cat was in a bad mood. If she was, she always took it out on Prince and would knock him upside the head with her paw! One day we found a stray kitten, that couldn’t have been more than 5 or six weeks old. Prince became very protective of this kitten. I think he was afraid Mittens would do something to it. He would let it sleep in his bed and make sure that it ate its food. We eventually gave the kitten to a little girl who’s cat had just got hit by a car.
Prince was my step-dad’s baby and they did everything together. As Prince got older, he went deaf and blind and could barely walk because of his arthritis. After 17 years, we knew it was time to put him down. My step-dad took this very hard and couldn’t do it, so I was the one that had to take Prince to the vet. It broke my heart to have to leave without him. Prince wasn’t just a dog, he was the baby brother I never had.
P.S. I’m still the baby of the family!
This post was written for the 13th Edition of Smile For The Camera - All Creatures Great and Small.