Lassie and Rin Tin Tin
When I was growing up, TV had two excellent pet shows…..in the mid 50’s there was Lassie, a dog who could almost talk, and always brought help in the most dire situations. Actually for the TV show, there were two different Lassie families. I also recall once seeing a WWII movie with Lassie based out of England who “fought” the Germans in Europe! Lassie was followed by the colorized Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepard set in the frontier west. While writing this I have just learned the this show must have been based upon a 1934, 12 part Serial, the Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Those were the days…
There was a time in 1958, that my parents decided a dog would be good, for us or me, I’m not sure which, or even how the decision came about. Unlike dog searches of today, where, trips, pedigree papers, fluff and perfume are involved, we took a trip to the pound. As I recall, I was on crutches at the time for a dislocated right ankle. It was winter, which made mobility, from my perspective, with coats, gloves, crutches, and one boot less than desirable.
I don’t believe this pound had puppies, or if it did, we or I was steered away from them. Somehow our eyes, or was it my dad’s eye’s settled on this one dog, about a year old. Looked like a German Shepard, sort of, well it had the Shepard markings, but it was half the size, and its tail, rather than draping low, curled up, like a husky. The Pound called it a Belgium Shepard, but ya-gotta-think, buying a used dog at the pound is a lot like buying a pig-in-a-poke!
I don’t know what the dog’s name was, but it looked so much like Rin Tin Tin, that we (or was it I) named it Rinty! We saved this dog from its final early fate, and it became fearlessly devoted. We gave it a new biginning. (I’ll talk about fearless in the next episode)
What I really want to talk about is our move. I born is a city, lived in a suburb, all my life. My mother had always been a city person, and my father had not live on the farm or in the county since pre-WWII. So, in 1960 we found ourselves moving from suburbia, Lake County, Indiana into the country in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Now most Tippecanoans will decry that they don’t live in any back-woods county…but lest they forget, there are parts of the county, that other than property tax or voting time, rarely see an elected official. And if you don’t believe that, well I can testify that during the last census, we weren’t found. Nope, the post office never sent our form and the census people kept turning left at old black oak tree rather than right…and our house was always missed.
We moved into this house that was at the end of a mile long dead end road, we were the fourth of four houses. Being new to the area we weren’t exactly totally knowledgable in intricacies of our part of the world. Dad was never one to not have a little fun, so, one day when he was picking out a squirrel call for me–yes I did some squirrel hunting and eat’n, he also picked up a Wounded Rabbit Call. To edify you city people, rabbits don’t make any sound, unless they are hurt, then they squeal!
This one summer evening, my dad decided to play a trick on Rinty. Mom and I and Rinty sat on the front porch around 10 O’Clock in the pitch dark night, and dad walked out to the back of the woods. He was about a quarter mile away, got behind a tree and started working that Wounded Rabbit Call. He said he heard Rinty a-coming, charging through the brush, just on a tear. Rinty charged passed his tree and didn’t stop, looking for that rabbit.
Dad came back down the lane, just a-chuckling, as he was getting closer to us, he told us all about it, the tree, the call, the crashing, charging dog……
Interesting…..Rinty was sitting right beside us…..had never moved an inch! Dad looked at the dog, looked at the Wounded Rabbit Call, gazed out to the woods. We were new to that part of the world, and didn’t have clue who are four footed neighbors were. He put that Wounded Rabbit Call away in the tool box and never got it out again.