Chapter 5: Co-Pilot (excerpt from Chert Dog)

“My Father’s Greatest Gift:  Life Lessons from a Black English Labrador Retriever”

My Father’s Greatest Gift

On a ride out to the countryside, John’s vehicle broke down.
We had to walk for a while and my paws started to bleed, so my
beloved Master carried me until we found help at the in-law’s family
auto dealership. I guess I am very heavy because he was having a
difficult time. He is sooooo good to me; I wish I could take away that
empty place inside his soul. I smile and carry his quilted flannel shirt
everywhere we go and wag my tail and even bark to bring him out
of himself. Sometimes he’ll grin and laugh and say that I am the best
dog he ever had. But deep down I know that no matter how much love
I give to him, he is missing the woman who made him feel complete
even despite himself. So I guess I’ll just keep taking his shirts down
off of their hangers and bite off all of the buttons and run away when
he lets me outside without a leash to help him transfer some of his
emotion into dealing with me! Ha! Ha! Ha!

There are so many different colors, shapes and sizes of
vehicles at the dealership! Some have soft cloth tops, some have really
big wheels with white sidewall tires, rims and back seats that open up
on the outside of the vehicle which are called rumble seats! The newer
vehicles have common names such as Chevrolet, GMC or Pontiac.
Others from the antique and classic collection have unusual names
like Studebaker, Auburn, Rolls-Royce and Lincoln just to name a
few. John has one called a Packard that is black with a rumble seat
and was made in 1935, the year he was born. I would love to ride in
it someday! I would wear my dark goggles and flashy scarf and feel
the breeze running through my ears – it sure would beat putting my
head sideways out the window all of the time!

I guess before my time John’s step father-in-law owned this
dealership and was quite a character, or so I have been told. He
always wore really wild colored pants that had prints and plaids
on them and you could see him coming at you a mile away! He
absolutely LOVED collecting cars, ALL makes and models and
would travel across the country with a traveling car club. They had
a chance to participate in a movie that required antique cars and
went to big parties. Oftentimes, he would buy another vehicle while
traveling and either had someone drive back to get it or he would
drive it back himself and have his wife drive the other vehicle. When
they moved to spend their winters in Florida, he would drive his
1957 Packard convertible that had bright pink interior and a white,
pink and black exterior with a license plate which read “Pink Pet.” I
never thought of a vehicle as a pet before, but I guess everyone has
their passion! He would drive to the donut shop every morning to get
coffee and donuts (us Dogheads call them “doghnuts”)! My Master
gives me white powdered sugar-coated ones when he has coffee in
the morning. I get covered with the white fluff, but they are tasty! I
think that his relative loved cars just about as much as I love PIZZA!…

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