Saturday, September 22, 2012

Herman and Hoover

Good grief. Someone teach that child some spelling and grammar! Yes, that's me, writing in my childhood diary on the day my brother and I got our dogs, Herman and Hoover.

I've always believed this occurred in 1976, but to the left of the date at the top of this page, it seems to say 1975 in reverse (from the preceding page). So maybe it was 1975, when I was 8 years old. I'm not sure.

Anyway, the back story is, Herman and Hoover were given to us by neighbors. They were part of a litter of four born to parents named Puppy (whom my mom called "the ugliest dog in the world") and Wagglebee. The neighbors named the puppies -- despite what I wrote above, "we" did not choose the names.

After we medicated them for their worm problems, Hoover and Herman became the source of a million family stories. They spent their years running free and trailing my brother and me all over our neighborhood, sometimes at the cost of being picked up by the dog catcher. We repeatedly had to drive down to the county pound and bail them out. But did we put a leash on them? No.

Herman, especially, got in some close scrapes -- she was attacked multiple times by bigger dogs, got her leg caught in someone's bicycle spokes, and I think she was even hit by a car. She was made of steel but dumb as a post, and she cost my parents hundreds in vet bills. Hoover was smarter, or at least more agile, and managed to more or less stay out of trouble.

We didn't try very hard to control those dogs. I suppose we should have, but things were different in those days in the palmettoed wilds of rural Florida. Fortunately they weren't biters.

They were also perpetually infested with fleas -- which for two outdoor dogs in Florida was hard to avoid. Now we have Advantage, where you put a few drops on the animal's neck and that's that. Back then, all we had were those terrible, smelly, poisonous, ineffective plastic flea collars. (Ineffective against vicious subtropical Florida fleas, anyway.)

Both dogs lived to a ripe old age -- I think Hoover died in 1991 and Herman the following year. (I could probably figure out exactly when if I were motivated to root around in more of my obsessive life documentation, but I'm not.) You can see Herman (with me) in her old age here, and Hoover (with my brother) here. Yes, those dogs really are sisters. Mind-blowing, right?

By the way -- that bit about moving was pretty much my imagination. My mom my have idly talked about it, but we never seriously considered moving anywhere, and I spent my entire childhood in the house where my mom still lives. Herman and Hoover are buried somewhere in the side yard.


  1. wow. I don't think I kept anything like that from my childhood. I think I might have a diary from when I was a teenager (maybe I should find it!) and some art work that my mother kept along with my baby book, but that's about it.

    Although I see no familial resemblance between Herman and Hoover, the fact that you and your brother are related is easy to see!

  2. We had a boxer growing up, two actually. One was the son of the other. They were never restrained. Nobody's yards were fenced, the dogs ran free with their kids. And yeah, there was the occasional dog fight or unwanted litter of puppies. Our dog got in the yard of our neighbor's where their dalmatian was in heat. They were going to breed her but King got to her first. Oh, they were so pissed. My dad had to build a dog run in the side yard (we had an acre). Whenever King was put in there, he would cry and cry. My mother always swore it sounded like he was crying 'mama'. Us kids could never stand it and would let him out.

  3. Our dogs always ran loose too - my dad finally built a fence for the back yard after I left home. I remember one time our dog had puppies, only we didn't know she was expecting. My brother heard her outside on the carport & thought she was bothering the cats so he yelled at her. She ran off & had puppies all over the neighborhood. She went back & brought them all home - I think there were 9 or ten!

  4. Lynne: Old diaries can be pretty fun to read, but you also have to prepare to be embarrassed. Especially in those teen years!

    Ellen: Did the dalmatian have puppies with your boxer? Those would be very interesting dogs. Poor King, only doing what came naturally!

    Bug: That's a sad story! Your poor dog! At least she brought all the puppies back home. I guess it wasn't unusual to just let dogs run loose in those days -- at least, not in the South.

  5. Herman and Hoover. Oh my. I remember when dogs just ran wild. Or, trotted about wherever they wanted, to be more accurate. And yes, they got into trouble and it was just the way it was. They always came home at night. Mostly.