Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

My Dog, Sputnik

Posted March 1, 2007

Gilded are the days of our youth. Oh, those magical Morganton memories! Morganton was Mayberry with sophistication. But not too much sophistication as you will see after reading this story.

The image is forever burned in my memory: my dear Uncle Phil holding a wiggling puppy on the back porch of my grandmother’s house next to ours. My sister Miriam was suffering the flu and the doggone blues. Her heart ached for Puddin.’ My parents were forced to give away this puppy after way too many indoor accidents. The new dog would be named Sputnik.

Like her namesake the Russian satellite our Sputnik developed her own special orbit. This feisty but friendly lab mix, walked one mile to work everyday. My parents ran The Book Store on Morganton’s main drag. Sputnik was our special ambassador under the card table next to the Parker Pen counter and children’s book section.

 Sputnik would wag her tail and greet customers as they entered the store. Ole Sput became a town legend. She also worked her way up to a lucrative salary of biscuits, bones and bountiful scraps. Our store was a lot like Sputnik’s diet – a hodgepodge.  We sold books, office and school supplies, wedding gifts, greeting cards, art supplies and picture framing.

The only time Sputnik growled at a customer was when a gorgeous woman from Kansas City came into town with a huge oil painting of a professional baseball player. She wanted to get it framed at the Book Store because of our "reputation of excellence." We were embarrassed by the growls but Sputnik was obviously onto something. The woman's check bounced and we never saw her again or her money.

 I recently dedicated a song to Sputnik at my Morganton concert. I can’t hug my current dog. Sparky is not a hugger. Neither was Barney before. But Sputnik loved a firm hug especially on a cold day by the heating vent in the living room. I cried the day a Dodge took Sputnik’s life as the aging dog tried to make one more commute to work downtown.

What is your favorite pet story? Please share!

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  • Blondie Mar 3, 2007

    W have two Aussies. We have had Bailey since he was a pup. He's now eight. Molly is our newbie we got from the APS. We think she's around two years old. What a pair those two are. Bailey is like having a furry human in the house. He understands words, facial movements, and many gestures. Molly on the other hand, obviously did not have the same up bringing. While Bailey is an expert at catching frisbee, Molly still thinks its a game of chase and grab. My husband has been working with her on how to catch it and not take it from Bailey's mouth. She tries, but she hasnt quite figured out that it's to be caught with her mouth and not her paws.

  • spanielmomx3 Mar 3, 2007

    My little sweetie, Fancy, is a red cocker spaniel. And, if you're wondering about her name, I'm a big Reba fan. I had originally planned to name her Reba (because of the red hair), but my friend named her cat Reba, so I chose Fancy because of Reba's song -- and it fits her personality much better! Fancy loves to ride and take walks, and like Animal Lover's Sabrina, her tail wags constantly! But, she too is gettig on in years, she will be 15 this year, and while she has lost her hearing, and has only partial sight in one eye now because of cataracts, that little nub still wags whether she's attempting to chase the rabbits in the back yard, or the cat. Her other senses may be going (or gone) but that nose still works! She even tolerates her adopted brothers, two Cavalier King Charles (10 yrs. old) and welcomed them into the family. She is my little girl, and she has shown me unconditional love. I could never replace her -- and I'd never want to.

  • jetset Mar 3, 2007

    I now have a dog named Sadie. She is a Heinz 57 variety that was once roaming the streets of Nashville, TN. The pound captured her at about 5 months of age and she was about to be put to sleep. The Freedom Farm got her and from there my daughter adopted her. Unfortunately, my daughter's job involved some traveling, so "fortunately" my husband and I agreed to take her. We are so glad we did. She is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever been around. She is a mix of coon dog, hound dog, Tennessee walker, and beagle. Her legs are so long she looks as if she is on stilts. The only problem with Sadie is she is still very shy with other people and hides behind me when someone comes over. But, she brings us lots of love. She has filled out alot since we got her and she is beautiful to us! I think she likes her new home!!

  • Squirreling Dervish Mar 2, 2007

    Our Aussie Tank's favorite hobby was sticking his head down gopher holes in the woods. One day a gopher decided that he (or, to be fair, she)did not like such a fat, fuzzy head in their residence, so he (or she)took a chunk of of the top of Tank's head. Tank recovered fully, missing a hunk of his noggin, the hair growing back but his head still dented, but I never did see he stick his head down another gopher hole...

  • BT Mom Mar 1, 2007

    I remember my first dog; her name was Bootsie and my sister and I shared her and loved her. I was too little when she died to remember how it happened but she was a small thing so we carried her around a lot. Our second dog was a shepherd mix and we named him Yoyo because he came and went as he pleased. He must have had some kind of training because if my sister or I made the mistake of getting too close to the road he would gently put his mouth around our wrist and pull us back away from the road. Needless to say our Mom really adored that about him. He was a great dog and a fun pal. One day he went away and never came back to us.

  • jdmchic00 Mar 1, 2007

    Hercules always had a big head, big muscles and just a big build. I got him for protection.. so I called him Hercules. :)

  • CestLaVie Mar 1, 2007

    The queen of our house is a beautiful, blond cocker spaniel named Sabrina. We chose her name because we wanted something special for such a beautiful 6-week old puppy when we got her. Her tail wags constantly and she's always happy. She follows us everywhere, but mostly stays by my side and sleeps with me. If we go in the car, she wants to go too. But she considers it her special job to take care of the 5 cats that also live with us. She keeps up with all of them: who's in, who's out, who's sleeping where, who's eating now, who's walking by and rubbing on her. She loves all of them and they seem to love and tolerate her "motherliness" of them. She lets us know when it's time to go potty and when it's suppertime, and she barks when someone/something is around our house. Unfortunately, at 10 years she now has arthritis & cataracts on her eyes, but does that slow her down?? No way. We love her and care for her, as she does her very best for us. What a sweetheart!!

  • lbrtbl59 Mar 1, 2007

    My family had a dog named Muttley, whose father was a full blooded English Sheepdog. He was named Muttley after the cartoon dog with the snicker who was a favorite of my dad's. This dog looked a lot like his dad with the sandy colored long hair and he had personality.
    He loved Dad's pickup and would jump in the back and ride on the tailgate. More than once he slid right off! He still wouldn't move closer to the cab. When Dad traded in his old truck for a new truck at a local dealership almost next door, he stayed underneath the old truck at the dealership. Finally, they had to call Dad to come get him because he wouldn't let anyone near it!
    He would chase 18 wheelers that came once or twice a week to pick up the eggs from my parents' laying hen operation. Once he actually caught one! He chomped down on a mudflap, and sat down, bumping down the path!

  • PDMARTIN Mar 1, 2007

    My current "beau's" name is Cohen and he received his name as a memorial of sorts. In Dec 1995 my chocolate Lab Quincey died the same night my best friends father did. It just seemed right to give him not only a unique name but one that allowed her father to live on a bit longer.

  • sandlizzard12 Mar 1, 2007

    After 16 years of being my "Best Bud" I had to put Oscar to sleep on Dec. 5th, 2006. I tell people that if he had been capable of talking I would have to have shot him because I told him all my secrets.Oscar was a "long dog" from the daschund breed. He was originally a Christmas present for my mom but he was "too energized" for her. Oscar and I shared moments in several locations. We walked the beach in Myrtle Beach and he performed as a "chick magnet" on the beach as well as a squirrel hunter amongst the tall oak trees. He chased the sqirrels along power lines in Pinehurst and Southern Pines.He became blind due to a stroke 5 years before he passed but his performance as a "Best Bud" was not diminished by this. His life was saved a couple times by Dr. Tim Boyete in Carthage but Tim says it was his will to continue to live that got him thru just as much as the meds.God's speed Oz, we'll run the fields again someday.




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Bill Leslie