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Duke, Ginger, Dobie, Buster, Princess, Dixie, Keeper and Tubby. These were my best friends, in order, since I was five years old. We never fought or argued and we went everywhere and did everything together. These were the dogs in my life and I loved them all. Yeah, I’ve had plenty of cats too. They were pretty cool but it’s the dogs I remember most. I guess it’s true, you are either a cat person or a dog person, but for me, it’s always been all about the dogs.

Duke was a beautiful Irish setter. He was a real handful, very high strung and dumb as a bag of rocks. Duke and I got along fine, but one day he bit my older sister and my parents thought it would be best to partner him with friends who didn’t have little children. I cried for a week.

But before long, Dad came home with a little orange mutt in his arms. We named him “Ginger” at once. You notice I said him. No matter, Ginger suited him perfectly. A very gentle dog, even though my sisters and I ran him ragged. From the beginning he was afraid of loud noises. We’d find him under the kitchen table every time a dish dropped or it thundered outside.

My mom picked out our next dog, a miniature pincer. I called him my dog, but Dobie was always partial to Mom. Smart as a whip, Dobie learned more tricks than any dog I ever owned. Then came Buster, our beagle. We never could keep him down on the farm. He lit out for the woods every chance he got and came home smelling of skunk more often than any dog I’ve ever had, before or since.

Princess was the first dog Erica and I got when we moved to Atlanta. Friends of ours were moving to a high rise in Chicago and were heartbroken that they couldn’t find a home for their pet. Who would take an old, long-haired, blind mongrel? You got it – we volunteered, and were never sorry for a moment. She was our sweetest girl. She’d walk down to the tennis courts with us and wait patiently for us to finish our games. As long as she heard tennis balls bouncing, she was content.

Dixie showed up on our doorstep next. A total mongrel, she was part pug, part dachshund and all adorable. How anyone could dump her was beyond me. Dixie and I were inseparable until the end.

When our kids were young and into soccer, I took a ride one Christmas to see a breeder in North Georgia. He raised Boston terriers and had two pups left from a recent litter. I passed on the large male and chose the runty female. The breeder warned me that she might have some problems, but I took her anyway. One hundred percent energy, my kids named her “Keeper” because she looked like a black and white soccer ball. The funny thing is she never met a ball she didn’t like. We couldn’t keep her off the soccer fields and tennis courts. The breeder was right however. Poor keeper was allergic to everything and she also had to deal with epilepsy late in life. It didn’t stop her though, nothing did.

Our current mutt is “Tubby”. My daughter rescued him with the help of an organization called “Pitties In The City”. Tubby is also black and white and quite handsome. He is part pit bull and part shepherd. He was found living with his brothers and sisters under an old bath tub in a run-down part of Atlanta, and thus the name. I had my doubts because of his pit bull background, but my daughter recognized his gentle soul immediately. He’s the most polite and well-behaved dog in the world. There’s no doubt in my mind that Tubby thinks he is a “people”.

I am sure you dog lovers out there remember all of your best friends too. It’s a great club in which all of us are lucky to belong.

I’m going to take Tubby for a walk – until next time!

Gary, The Fishing Guy