Life in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)
This past weekend’s Dogfest at Trum Field got me thinking about the dogs that we loved growing up. Pooches used to run around unleashed on the streets of Somerville when I was a kid. We had Fluffy and Shep on my street. Shep lived across the street and he was very friendly. The following “tails” are accounts of some of the dogs we knew and loved, in their owner’s words. I’ll start with my own story.
The year was 1987, and I let my cousin’s dog Kahlua, a Golden Retriever, out the front door by accident. She ran and I tried to catch her and I fell down hard and had to go to the hospital. I had to wear a neck brace and I messed up my arm and missed work, but I caught the dog!
“My dog was a Shepherd Collie mix named Zibbit. He would follow me everywhere and wait for me too. Sometimes he would come to my school when I was getting out. Don’t ask me how he knew what time it was.”
“I had a German Shepard named Tippy. My brother was playing in the street and there was a car coming down the hill on Edgar Ave. Tippy ran and dragged him onto sidewalk by his shirt. Of course, my brother was kicking and screaming not knowing why Tippy was dragging him. We miss Tippy.”
“Everybody knew my dog Sandy, the Golden Retriever, who would sniff me out at the Western Junior High School. Mr. Jones, the principal, and the staff knew her personally. She joined a few assemblies! She could be seen in Davis Square carrying bags home. She would hear the bell from Liberty and Hall Ave. and run to school.”
“Our dog was Angel, a Cairn Terrier. There was a large black snake that one of the neighborhood kids had caught down at the tracks that got loose out in the driveway. Angel started flipping out, barking and bolted down the back stairs, out into the driveway, and over the wall where she proceeded to take care of the snake. It was quite a spectacle!”
“We had a little apricot teeny tiny poodle. My mother put her out on our third floor porch and the poor thing blew off the porch down three floors and landed in the neighbor’s bushes. I went out to get him and I heard him whimpering and flew down the stairs to get him. I ran through the Cutler schoolyard and down Powder House Boulevard to the vet. Poor little thing broke a leg, and the twigs were stuck in him. I still cringe. We renamed him KILLER. He turned into a nasty little (bleep) and would attack our German shepherd with his cast that was about three inches long.”
“Shang Hai was Pekinese and Lhapso Apso. He got fed at all the best sub shops and beat up on German shepherds.”
“We had a German shepherd named Baron. He was in school more than we were at the Western Junior High in the early 70’s.”
“My Poodle was named Afro. My cousin found him abused with his tail cut off. My father brought him home all dirty and over grown so we cleaned him up at the groomers and took him to the vet and the rest is history. We had him forever. I still miss him.”
“We had a mutt, who we actually saw being born under my aunt’s kitchen table. We named her Bambie and she always helped me with my supper when my mom wasn’t looking. Ha-ha! We had her for 16 years, and she was like a sibling to me.”
“We had a Collie named Lassie (what else from that era?). Everyone on Windsor Rd. knew her. She would sit on the neighbor’s porches if they were out just to be there and be petted.”
“I had a poodle named FiFi. She was in a play at Somerville High School one year. I forgot the name of the play. Senior moment!”
“We had an Irish Setter/Lab mix named Shamus! He was the best! He had a girlfriend in Arlington and he’d get picked up by the Arlington dogcatcher. It would cost us $100 every time to get him out. So when he didn’t come home for a couple of days, we knew exactly where he was. We’d get the bolt cutters and break him out at night. Of course, we’d free about five other dogs so they didn’t know it was us!”
“We had a Shepherd Terrier mix named Dusty. She could flip a cookie off her nose into her mouth. It was amazing!”
“Barron, our German shepherd was the sweetest dog, and biggest wimp lol! If we got robbed, he would have licked the robbers face on the way out! Loved and missed!
“My best friend was a rescue dog, a mixed breed named Judy by my Mother. Judy walked me to St. Josephs every day and would meet me when school got out. My own Lassie. A once in a thousand year dog. Killed by a car pushing me out of the way. Thank you Judy. Miss you every day.”
Shep, the dog that lived across from my house, has been gone for decades. But there is a small paw print carved into the door of the house where he lived. A lasting testament to Shep, the friendly dog that loved, played with, and kept an eye on all the kids on the street.
Dog Hall of Fame: Queenie, Pixie, Poopsie, Tippy, Tanqueray, Tater, Kahlua, Santa, Dukey, Reefer, Turbo, Gretchen, and Barney.