Fagin's Fear

Luckily English or History majors, like the rest of the world, have children who insist on calling our pets Fluffy and Spot. Otherwise, we would foist witty titles on our animals like Chairman Meow and Lady Mac-breath (“Out, damn’d Spot! Out, I say!”) Before children, I had a handsome Great Dane whom I refrained from calling Hamlet only to succumb to calling Fagin after one of my favorite Dickens’ characters.

Extremely large, even for his breed, his fiercely wagging tail frequently sent any and all items on the kitchen table scattering for cover. After viewing the horizontal bruises across my thighs, my doctor once asked in a concerned voice, if I wasn’t letting the bondage and discipline games get out of hand. My explanation met with some skepticism. To this day I’m sure he thinks I had a vicious sex partner. But anyone who had actually met Fagin knew the damage his tail could do. They also soon learned what a coward he was.

His size and booming bark disguised his true nature. At the time, I was going to college and living in the small city of Eureka. We would head out at 5 in the morning to walk along the bay as the sun came up. The Old Town area we passed though is notorious for the large numbers of homeless and drug addicts that wander it. Fagin’s merle, a spotted lavender gray (honestly he had a pale violet hue to his coat), blended into the darkness. Several times, large hulking fellows would see me, a woman in her twenties, apparently walking alone and cross the street in an ominous manner. Fagin always barked once—a Hound of Baskerville hollow hacking sound that sent them scurrying for the far side of the road. One verbally, though perhaps not otherwise, honest fellow even shook his head chuckling, “Lordy, girl, I figured I’d shake you up some and now my heart is beating faster than my hands are trembling.”

But, what he couldn’t see in the darkness was how Fagin was pressed against my thighs, wagging his tail, and leaving bruises on my backside.

I had complained about Fagin’s cowardice to friends and they reassured me, that should I actually be attacked, he would leap to my defense. My husband and I decided to put that to the test.

On the weekends, and whenever we could make time, we came home to the hills. Our cabin couldn’t be driven to and the groceries and laundry had to be hauled up and down a steep path with rocks and tree roots. On the test day, I went into the cabin with the dog while my husband did some work on the driveway. When he finished, he started down the path making ungodly noises—growling, snarling, and hooting.

“Fagin, what’s that?” I squeaked in pretended fear.

Fagin began pacing and whimpering. His eyes actually darted from side to side seeking shelter. At first, he pressed against me but I pretended panic. “Fagin, Fagin help me. It’s going to get us,” I squealed in a high voice.

I had a moment of hope as he stared hard at the door my husband was fast approaching. “AAARRRRrrrf.” He howled. But my husband roared and began fumbling at the wooden latch.

Fagin squealed, tucked his tail between his legs, nearly bowled me over in his rush past me, leapt on the couch, stuck his head under the cushion, and cried, “Aww, awwooo, awooo.”

I never went walking in Old Town after dark again.

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20 comments

  • Kym,
    I just discovered your blog through Eric’s link. I had no idea, although I should have. Really wonderful writing, just superb.

  • Poor dog, was probably scared he’d done something to make Daddy mad at him. 😉

  • Poor dog, was probably scared he’d done something to make Daddy mad at him. 😉

  • He totally knew it was Kevin. Sheesh.

  • He totally knew it was Kevin. Sheesh.

  • This is the same dog that I lost one year when you and Kevin were out of town for several days. I was “babysitting” him and for a couple of days he was just the perfect puppy. Kevin had assured me that he didn’t need to be chained because he would leave his pickup parked in the driveway and Fagin would stay put as long as the truck was there….and he did for several days. Then, one afternoon, for no reason at all that I could fathom, he just disappeared. I searched for him for hours. Long after dark, I was driving up long, lonely driveways to knock on what appeared to be less than welcoming doors, hoping against hope that someone had seen him. I finally had to admit defeat. The great dog was gone and I was sure my daughter and son-in-law would never consider me good babysitting material for the yet to be born grandchildren. By the time I headed home, I was in tears. Where had that crazy dog gone?
    Little did I know that he had headed home. I had never given more than a perfunctory thought to the idea that he might have gone home, which was at least 8 miles up the hill from our house.

    I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to tell you that he was gone but you both were very kind and understanding. Kevin kept saying, “He has gone back home,” but I was sure he was just saying that to keep me from falling totally apart. All I could think was, how could I have lost your dog?
    It was one of the greatest reliefs in my life to have you call when you arrived home to tell me he was there. Whew! and, best of all, you still trusted me with your real babies when they began to arrive.

  • This is the same dog that I lost one year when you and Kevin were out of town for several days. I was “babysitting” him and for a couple of days he was just the perfect puppy. Kevin had assured me that he didn’t need to be chained because he would leave his pickup parked in the driveway and Fagin would stay put as long as the truck was there….and he did for several days. Then, one afternoon, for no reason at all that I could fathom, he just disappeared. I searched for him for hours. Long after dark, I was driving up long, lonely driveways to knock on what appeared to be less than welcoming doors, hoping against hope that someone had seen him. I finally had to admit defeat. The great dog was gone and I was sure my daughter and son-in-law would never consider me good babysitting material for the yet to be born grandchildren. By the time I headed home, I was in tears. Where had that crazy dog gone?
    Little did I know that he had headed home. I had never given more than a perfunctory thought to the idea that he might have gone home, which was at least 8 miles up the hill from our house.

    I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to tell you that he was gone but you both were very kind and understanding. Kevin kept saying, “He has gone back home,” but I was sure he was just saying that to keep me from falling totally apart. All I could think was, how could I have lost your dog?
    It was one of the greatest reliefs in my life to have you call when you arrived home to tell me he was there. Whew! and, best of all, you still trusted me with your real babies when they began to arrive.

  • Oh I remember beautiful Fagin! He was one big dog, that’s for sure! Don’t tell me you don’t have a photo of him!

  • Oh I remember beautiful Fagin! He was one big dog, that’s for sure! Don’t tell me you don’t have a photo of him!

  • That is an amazing dog.
    I have one of those. He’s a Blue Healer and barks at ANYONE who comes to the door……and then cowers and pees on the floor when I open it.
    I can relate to this.
    And there’s NO WAY I’d go to old town after dark. That’s crazy talk. LOL.

  • That is an amazing dog.
    I have one of those. He’s a Blue Healer and barks at ANYONE who comes to the door……and then cowers and pees on the floor when I open it.
    I can relate to this.
    And there’s NO WAY I’d go to old town after dark. That’s crazy talk. LOL.

  • Thanks for the kind words and welcome.

    Fagin was scared of everything but us. He adored us in a big slobbery sort of way. He and Kevin played all sorts of games but, if he knew that this was Kevin, he sure acted different from ususal.

    I loved your memory, Mom. I had forgotten that happened. But don’t worry, who would pass up all that free babysitting! Want to watch the Little One on Wednesday;>

    Trying to post and get Littlest to school, couldn’t figure out how to scan photo into blog. Gave up and used online photo until I could get home and figure it out (with some help from Mom). Now we have Fagin at our wedding pic. He was scared even then, poor baby. He hoped we could save him from all the terrifying people.

    I was younger and more foolish when I went to Old Town on those dark early mornings. Now I’m a black belt and I’d think twice.

  • Thanks for the kind words and welcome.

    Fagin was scared of everything but us. He adored us in a big slobbery sort of way. He and Kevin played all sorts of games but, if he knew that this was Kevin, he sure acted different from ususal.

    I loved your memory, Mom. I had forgotten that happened. But don’t worry, who would pass up all that free babysitting! Want to watch the Little One on Wednesday;>

    Trying to post and get Littlest to school, couldn’t figure out how to scan photo into blog. Gave up and used online photo until I could get home and figure it out (with some help from Mom). Now we have Fagin at our wedding pic. He was scared even then, poor baby. He hoped we could save him from all the terrifying people.

    I was younger and more foolish when I went to Old Town on those dark early mornings. Now I’m a black belt and I’d think twice.

  • A dog with his heart, if not his tail, in the right place 😀

  • A dog with his heart, if not his tail, in the right place 😀

  • What a great picture. We had our dog at our wedding too. She was a mess! Barking on everyone, jumping on everyone — all while tied-up to a tree by a short leash well-away from the party. I loved that pain-in-the-ass dog!

  • What a great picture. We had our dog at our wedding too. She was a mess! Barking on everyone, jumping on everyone — all while tied-up to a tree by a short leash well-away from the party. I loved that pain-in-the-ass dog!

  • I think that’s why we love dogs…It’s because they have their heart full of love for us even if they are pains in the rear.

  • I think that’s why we love dogs…It’s because they have their heart full of love for us even if they are pains in the rear.

  • That is a wonderful photo.

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