My Childhood Kindred

That's Bambi on the left. :) Sweet girl.

That’s Bambi on the left. πŸ™‚ Sweet girl.

This is one of the only pictures I have of her. It’s one of the things I ransacked from the house that day.

Many of us had a childhood dog, one that we fell in love with, one that no other dog will ever compare with. We secretly hope to feel this way about our new dog, and we love them, but it is NEVER the same. I needed to write about her; my childhood dog, so that out there somewhere, there is some evidence she was here with us all.
When I was in fourth grade, we adopted a dog. My parents friends could no longer take care of her, I’m not sure why. When she came to us she was 2, and she had kennel cough and valley fever. She was a sickly little thing, but she pulled through. She lived with us until I was 19, licking the face of my newborn baby boy, still running around like she was a puppy.

Bambi came to our house when I just a child. She was a cocker spaniel / golden retriever, (a midsize dog called an English Comfort Golden, sport retriever, minature golden) and we all fell in love with her the moment she got there. She was the smartest, most gentle dog I have ever known. From the time I was child, until I finished school, she walked me to the bus every morning, and was waiting at the bus stop everyday after school. Sometimes the bus driver would allow her to come on the bus and greet all the kids there, and then take her with us a mile up the road to my school. Then she would still walk home, and be waiting for me at the end of the day.

I would frequently go off on my own to escape my unbearable life with just a tent, my knife, and some water, to camp in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Only she was allowed to come. I knew she would keep me safe, I loved her company, and I enjoyed it.

We were kindreds.

She had her quirks, too. She was stubborn and liked to have free roam of the neighborhood. She was afraid of the dark and would stand outside barking and barking when it got dark so we would let her in. She was still, however, a great watchdog. She slept with me almost every night of my young life. I taught her to shell peanuts. I bathed her often and brushed her teeth, and she allowed me to do so. πŸ™‚ I taught her to climb trees with me. She knew countless tricks. I will never stop missing her.
When she was about 6 years old, she began limping in her front paw. The limping went on for a week or so, and I was ignored when I asked my “parents” to take her to the vet. Everyday I checked her and checked her, finding nothing. The limping got worse. Eventually she started to walk on the top of her paw, instead of the pad of her foot. Finally, I saw that she had a huge hole in her paw. This
may have been caused by a brown recluse, or by a foxtail working its way in and becoming infected. So my “parents” finally took her to the vet.

He amputated her leg, all the way up to the shoulder because her wound had become gangrenous and was going to kill her. The surgery went well, and we were to pick her up the next day. When I arrived she had been cut, stitched and bathed. I still remember how she smelled like a mixture of sugar and anesthesia when I picked her up from the vet the next day.

Now, let me stop at this point and tell you that even though it was horrible for us, she didn’t mind. Her foot had been hurting her for so long I like to think she was glad to be rid of that old thing, and she was in better spirits than ever! The only problem was she was exhausted, she couldn’t walk, and she DEFINITELY couldn’t climb a tree. We had some work to do.

I sat with her for days, as did my stepbrother, and we coaxed her. We loved her, we pet her. Finally one day she rose up, and started hopping around. You know how your dog wags his tail back and forth? Dogs with three legs move their tails in a circle. Like a fan on the extra slow setting. πŸ™‚

Bambi and I walked everyday, climbed our favorite mountain paths, ran and jumped. I think the fact that I did all these things with her gave her the encouragement she needed. You know what? She was back in the trees soon enough, climbing with three legs. She was incredible. She could still shell a peanut. She could give a mean high-five. She was back and better than ever.

All her hair grew back and covered up her scar, and it was like she had always only had three legs.

She lived with us as a part of our family for about 14 years. I should have taken her with me when I moved out.

Now get out your tissues, y’ all.

When I was 18 and pregnant with my son, my step mother died. When she died, my father went insane. He began using more heavily than ever, he quit paying all his bills and was living int he country like a hobo. No one could reach out to him, no one could help him. he just wasn’t in there anymore. I understood, of course because this was not the first time this had happened to him. My mother died when I was only 2.

One day I got a call from my step-sister. They were taking the house, and we were to go to the house and get as much stuff as would fit in the car before they made my dad leave. Three of us went and ransacked the place. We all failed to notice one thing though. Bambi was not there.

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea about my mess of a father, let me assure you that he was a kind, loving person before he began using. He taught me so many loving things. He taught me about homesteading. He loved animals and like I have said before we lived on a farm. I’ve seen my father let our huge cow jump on his back and lick his face every morning. All of our in-house dogs and cats were rescues. But I suppose when you lose your mind, you really LOSE YOUR MIND.

The next time I went to the house, then last time… I noticed that ALL the pets were gone. We also had a dog named Oso, a cat named Serenity and a couple of kittens. They were gone. I asked my Dad, “where are all the animals?”

“They’re gone,” he says to me.
“Obviously. Where’s Oso? Where’s Bambino? Serenity?”
“Oso is on a ranch in New Mexico. Serenity ran away. I don’t know where Bambi is. I think she went to live Mr and Mrs Pa.”
This was all I was ever able to get out of him on the subject.
Mr and Mrs Pa were an old couple that lived up the road, and they were the nicest people ever. they used to babysit us all.
You know that sequence in the movie “What Dreams May Come” When she kills herself, and he goes to find her, and she’s living in a delusional world, where everything is broken and she doesn’t understand why? That was me at this moment. EVERYTHING was broken. How did he not know? Why did they all leave at the same time? How did I not notice earlier? If they were a burden, why hadn’t he asked one of us kids to take them?
So I walked up to Mr and Mrs Pa’s house to find out.
“is Bambi here?” I asked Mrs Pa.
“No honey, why. Is she lost?” she said.
“Yes. My Dad said she was here.” I said.
“I haven’t seen her in a long time. I don’t know where she might be.” Mrs Pa said, with a heavy look of empathy in her eyes.

So I went back home.

She isn’t there Dad.”
And with that, my father turned his back on me and walked into the other room. I have no idea what happened to her, and I never got to say goodbye. I have still NEVER gotten over it.

So I am saying it now.

I loved you so much, I don’t know where or how you met your end, but I am so sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry I didn’t think to kidnap you from my father. I’m sorry you lost your leg. Thank you for our time together. Thank you for the love you gave. Thank you for the comfort. I can’t wait to see you again.

That’s all I have to say about that.


6 responses to “My Childhood Kindred

  1. Oh my gosh. This is so touching and so painful. You clearly love and miss Bambi with every bit of your being and I feel certain that she will have known that. It sounds like you did everything you could for her and she will have felt that love infinitely.
    I never had a dog as a child though I always wanted one, and now Clemmie (my first ever) and has been with us for just over a year. I love and adore her and the thought of her makes me smile so much, but I’m sad too because i know that things might happen that I can’t prevent.
    The main thing is that I will do all I can to show her i love her, just as you did for Bambi, and you must just remember her and the way she made you feel. The last thing you must do is regret what you didn’t do.
    I found this quote which I though was lovely:
    “A good dog never dies. He always stays. He walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter’s drawing near. His head is within our hand in his old way.”
    Smile πŸ™‚

    • So beautiful that quote! I love it! Thank you for saying all of that. I do miss her, but she has been gone a long time now. Sometimes I just think of her more often than other days. My mother-in-law just found her dog, she died of old age at their house. I guess it brought up some old stuff for me πŸ™‚
      Thank you for your kindness.

  2. Oh, Kerie…how wonderful, and how heartbreaking. I’ve spent my entire life in the company of dogs, some more special than others, but each one a unique and loving creature. Rest easy in your good memories of Bambi…as I’m sure you do with your father. She helped bring love and strength and security to your young life.

    • Yes she did! She was a good girl Dogs ARE wonderful, each one, but they just don’t live long enough. Like I told another commenter, my mother-in-laws dog just died last week and it brought up some stuff for me I think. πŸ™‚ Thank you for reading!

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