I have been around dogs all my life . So I
decided to write about some of them. The first dog story is about
the dogs I had when I grew up. To give a little historical
perspective I have included information on the dogs that were in the
white house at the same time.
We had a fenced yard and Betty Alderson who
still owns and run Alderson's store recalls walking by the house on
the way to school and she would see me and Bruce running back and
forth in the yard. I can still see the rut by the fence where the
dog would run chasing and barking at walkers, neighbors, and the few
cars that would pass by back then. When the weather started turning
warmer boys would skip school and head out for the river. It was
harder fro me because Dad taught at the high school and being a
small town and such he would be able to figure out if I skipped or
not. One year I had the perfect way to skip school. As I was walking
down from the school towards the river, my dream turned into a
nightmare. Here came Dad heading the other direction. He asked,
"Where are you going boy?". I had heard dad talking the night before
about taking Bruce to the vet to get him caught up on his
vaccination. I responded that I was going home to get Bruce to take
him for his vaccinations. I got some points for turning a sure
disaster into a good deed. I never did skip school.
THE EISENHOWER YEARS
I grew up in the house on Maple Avenue in Alderson that had a back
yard that at one time was used in part for a garden and in later
times was used as ball field for football, baseball, kick the can or
whatever game a child could imagine. But the main advantage of the
yard was that it gave the dogs room to run around.
We had two collies both called Bruce. The first had a leg with
partial paralysis. Dad said it was caused by distemper. I goggled
distemper and found that it is a viral infection. Although a vaccine
has been discovered for the virus, it remains a major cause of
diseases in dogs until today. Both dogs were my inseparable
companions growing up. The Bruce with distemper passed away as I
recall because of the ravages of the disease. The second Bruce
passed away under suspicious conditions. There was some suspicion
that the dog may have been poisoned because he was a continuous
barker. But I was told to never say anything about those suspicions.
Below is a picture of a collie. This is not an actual picture of one
of the Bruces, but it is what they looked like.
Dwight Eisenhower was the president for most of the period I was
growing up . He was one of the few war heroes during the last
hundred years or so that became the nation's leader Earlier in our
history it was more common that a presidential candidate was a war
hero or had at least served.In the Romans Empire it was essential.
Ike was quoted as saying ,"Anybody that runs for President is either
an ego maniac or crazy". Below is Ike with his dog.
A tiny dog, Heidi was Dwight Eisenhower's
trusty Weimaraner, shown here accompanying the President back to the
White House after a March 11, 1959 press conference at the Executive
Office Building, now named in Eisenhower's honor. The President and
his dog were photographed together often during his time in office
and similar ones can be found in books or documentaries.
The dog was received as a gift from Nikita
Khrushchev. Despite the unsavory source,
however, all indications were that Pushinka was a good dog, and she
gave birth to several puppies who hung around with the Kennedy's for
a number of years
THE KENNEDY YEARS When I was a junior in high school, John F Kennedy
came to Alderson around April or May of 1960 when he was running for
the Democratic party nomination. I had to go to the dentist that day
and missed John Kennedy's speech. But when I asked about Kennedy's
speech that day ,people talked about the emcee,A James Manchin more
that they did John Kennedy. A James the uncle of US Senator Joe
Manchin was always a colorful and controversial state political
character Early in his career he taught at Rupert High School on the
west end of the county. Dad was President of the coach's association
of the Greenbrier County Schools. A James came to dad and asked him
if the Rupert wrestling team which he coached could get a trophy for
the county wrestling champion. Dad said "Jim I can't do that you had
a team but it was the only team in the conference and they didn't
wrestle in any matches this year". Jim said something like," Abe we
were undefeated'. Jim later got a federal job for his support in
getting Kennedy elected.
John Kennedy's family had money. He reportedly didn't get his first
job until later in life. He told a senior family adviser that he was
so excited that he was going to be starting his first job. The
adviser replied, "Don't worry son you have never missed anything."
Below is a picture of the Kennedy with their dog, Pushinka.
EPILOG Politicians love having picture taken of their dogs, kissing
babies and doing photo opportunities at churches. But there is some
small chance that they really like the dogs. Maybe like the rest of
some, they look forward to coming home to a pet that is always
happy to see them and is not looking for political favors.