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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Ding-Dong (05/16/13)

TITLE: My Dad, His Dogs, a Pony and a Bell
By Susan Gurney


In the mid-1990s my father had a heart attack. Shortly thereafter, a good church friend of his died; his dog--a keeshond named Talvi--died following a minor surgery; and his elderly pony, Dandy, had to be put down. The combination of these three sad events with his health scare, depressed Dad. Thankfully, it wasn’t a severe depression, though at the time it was troubling to all of us. Happily, Dad soon had something to keep his mind from grief and to give him a new lease on life: a keeshond puppy named Fritzy, or “Fritz II". Walking the puppy daily brought new strength to Dad’s ailing heart, while Fritzy brought joyful delight to Dad’s spirit. Fritzy would be the last of Dad’s series of three keeshonds, as both Dad and Fritzy died in 2004.

The first of Dad’s keeshonds--Fritz, or “Fritz I”--was purchased as a puppy in 1969 by my Dad, to comfort him following the death of his mother. Of Dad’s three keeshonds, this first “Fritz” was the only one I knew well. During my years of high school Fritz was my companion on walks, as well as my “assistant taster” as I picked blackberries from the sprawling bushes near the swamp below our house. Fritz chased away the garter snakes and tracked the scent of deer while I picked berries. In 1972 Fritz sat with me on the front porch of the new house Mom and Dad had had built, as I pondered my future after graduation--and a short-time later--as I rejoiced in my new-found faith in God. Fritz liked sitting on that porch for more reasons than keeping me company, though…

The front porch of Dad and Mom’s new house had a view of their large fenced garden, a huge front yard--and beyond that--a small fenced field. Beside the garden was a grove of evergreen trees that hid a small two-story horse barn where we fed Dandy his grain and hay. Dandy was a palomino-colored pony that we had purchased in 1967 following the death of my first horse, Babe, in 1964. As a young girl I was crazy about horses and had begged for one. I was speechless when Dad came home with Babe--not because I finally had my wish, but because Babe was so incredibly old and ugly. She was in her late twenties, had lacked care, and honestly looked like a moth-eaten bag of bones! Babe had cleaned up well, and she ended up being a gentle first horse for a girl who found out she was afraid of big animals. When Dandy came along, I actually found I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to ride that pretty little animal since I was already too big for him!

Dandy was staked out in our yard until Dad could get a fence built for him. Dandy got his name because he loved to eat dandelions in the yard. Once he got loose, climbed onto our back porch, and looked at us through the window while we ate dinner! We later got a pony cart and had Dandy pull us the half mile up the country road to our aunt’s house. Dandy loved this, and proudly trotted all the way there. My aunt owned two full-size horses that whinnied and stuck their heads over the fence to touch noses with Dandy. When it was time to go home, Dandy never wanted to leave his big friends. No trotting briskly back home in the pony cart--instead, Dandy slowwwwly plodded the entire way!

We soon found that Dandy loved apples, so Dad taught him a trick. He fastened a wooden lever on top of a fence post. It had a gunny sack pull on one end and a plastic scoop at the top on the other end. Under the scoop was a large bell. Dad put an apple in the scoop, Dandy pulled the gunny sack with his teeth, the bell rang, and an apple fell from the scoop to Dandy’s side of the fence. Like Pavlov’s dog, it wasn’t long before Dandy rang the bell frequently, hoping someone would bring him an apple!

Remember how Fritz the keeshond liked sitting on the front porch? Well…Dandy rang his bell--“ding dong!--Fritz ran barking to the fence, and Dandy pretended Fritz didn’t exist. The dog walked all the way back to the porch…settled down comfortably--then,“ding dong!”--the whole cycle was repeated…time and again!

Note: This is a true story.

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Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 05/25/13
Awww. This touched my heart, it brought a tear to my eye, and yet a smile to my face. I loved the hearing about your father's love for his pets. How thoughtful that he brought you a horse and it turned out to be a beauty after love was bestowed upon him. Dandy...what an adorable horse, and I loved the dogs as well. Being an animal lover, and having been close to my dad, this touched me deeply.

Thank you for sharing this special story and loving tribute to your wonderful dad.

God bless~
Virgil Youngblood 05/25/13
I enjoyed the memories. A keeshound is a breed I've never heard of, so I'm looking forward to reading more about them and learning something new.
lynn gipson 05/29/13
A most enjoyable story. Thanks for sharing this touching part of your life. Well done!