I had a childhood friend named Nancy. Nancy had this big dog named Critter. Critter was a mutt. Critter was big with mostly brown and white fur. He had a big long skinny tail that curled up over his back.
Nancy said that Critter just showed up in their yard one day a couple of years prior and never left. He was full grown and from the look of him had had a hard life.
Critter was nothing special in the looks department, but he was sharp as a tack!
Critter reflected the lifestyle of his owners. Now don’t get me wrong. Critter Never went hungry and he never longed for love or attention. But he was just rough around the edges, like the rest of his family.
Critter had one ear that always laid down. When a dog would normally perk up their ears, Critter’s were at half mast. Critter was missing a patch of fur about 6 inches across on one side of his rump. Maybe a fight during his younger days? No one knew.
If Critter had been a Mean Junk Yard Dog, he looked the part. But if you saw him play and wrestle with Nancy and her brothers, you would see a very gentle side of him too.
Nancy and I would walk downtown in the summertime and wander through the stores. It was something to do on a hot day and Critter would often tag along.
Nancy never used a leash with Critter. Critter didn’t need one. As we walked along, Critter might run up ahead a little ways, but he was never out of sight. If he lagged behind, it wasn’t long before he ran to catch up to us.
If Nancy and I wanted to go into a store to look around, most of the time Critter would just lie down on the sidewalk and wait for us. Once we emerged from the store, Critter would fall into place alongside us again and we would continue on our way.
I can recall Critter waiting outside half a dozen stores for us as we made our way in and out of these different businesses.
One day we came out of the Woolworth’s lunch counter and Critter wasn’t there. I looked at Nancy in a little bit of a panic and said “Critter’s not here!” She said, “He probably just got tired and went home.”
We were on the opposite side of town from where we had started. I thought for sure that poor Critter would be lost! Nancy told me not to worry.
We finished our wandering and headed home. As we neared Nancy’s house, I was looking for Critter but didn’t see him. I had a knot in my stomach. I didn’t want my dear friend to lose her dog and I loved Critter too!
Just as we stepped onto the front lawn a squeal came from around the side of the house. Here came Bobby, the baby of the family, with Critter hot on his heels! Bobby had one of Critter’s toys and the two of them were play some sort of chasing game.
Nancy was right. Critter just went home!
I don’t know what ever happened to Critter. Nancy’s and my lives took different routes. But I’ll never forget that big lovable mutt.