alan skeoch
nov. 2021

This episode is designed to test your PET MEMORY.   Most of my readers had a long sequence of  pets in their lives.  How many do
you remember?  Names?  Little things that made them memorable.

WHILE many of our pets are long gone.  Some deep deep in the past.  Some before our time.  Many
live on in our memory cells.  Let’s just see what we can retrieve.

Picture of Marjorie’s head peering over a tool chest with WOODY, our current Labrador dog 
keeping a close eye on both of us. (circa 2020)  In this series we will retrieve our pets…memory at work.

“Do you remember Your pets, Marjorie?”   A comment Just to see if she could remember the pets that made our lives full of
affection, excitement, compassion and tears.   Marjorie did better than remember she wrote them down in the proper order.
Now my task is to put flesh on their bones.   Most memories revolve around cats and dogs.  But not all.  We had ducks, a goose,
chameleons, frogs, a horse…so many.


NAME UNKNOWN.   the cocker spaniel in the cart pictured below was a part of the Hughes family before little Marjorie was born.  Her brother Doug 
trained it to be a wagon passenger as you can see below.   Marjorie remembers only Bonnie, a later pet.  “BONNNIE was a black cocker spaniel who had a single puppy called BUDDY when she 
was ten years old.  Daddy gave him to a baseball player.”   She missed him but had her two cats, TOM and PETER and a garage full of rabbits.
She thinks both Tom and Peter did breeding duties in the neighbourhood.  Today that is unusual but the music of tom cats howling was common in
the 1940’s and 1950’s.  

Doug Hughes with his cocker spaniel,  name unknown.  Circa 1939.

TINKER was the first cat I remember.  She was not remarkable in appearance but she sure had nine lives.  One of these lives
were expended in the winter of 1944  when Dad decided it was easier to drop her from the porch than the front door.  Our porch was
high up in a Victorian house divided into apartments. Our rooms were a good 20 feet in the air   When Tinker fell she disappeared in
the snow.  Emerged nonchalantly.  The great snowfall of  1944.   I was six years old.

Pets in Freeman family picture below…a horse and a dog along with 8 children one of which is my grandfather.   Location?  Lyons Hall,
near Kington, Herefordshire, England, about 1900.  Half of the children came to Canada but not the horse or dog.

Pets were important.

SPOT was the name of this little dog,  At least that name comes to mind.  I have no memory of him or her.   Mom, Elsie Freeman, married Arnold
Skeoch in 1937.  Both were the children of farmers in Wellington County, Ontario. I was born in Toronto in 1938.   Wish I could remember Spot but cannot.
I only remember TINKER because of dad’s novel way of putting her out on winter days in 1944.  i.e. Dropped from our flat in an old Victorian house
at 18 Sylvan Avenue, west Toronto.


PETE was granddad and grandma Freeman’s farm dog.  So lovable…so glad to see my brother Eric and I on our regular week-end 
farm visits.  Unfortunately he chased sheep.  Angus McEchern on the neighbouring farm had she and decided to scare Pete with a 
bullet as Pete skedaddled home.   Angus shot Pete dead.   Everyone, including Angus , was devastated.

IS this a picture of Pete?    Thought so for years. but now ir seems I was wrong. Look closely.   Below is a picture of
Pete’s dog house beside the farm house.  Not pretty but wrapped in sacks for warmth.  In winter Pete lived in the
front room…only room heated by a big wood stove.

SCOTTIE, a black scotch terrier replaced Pete.  Not as lovable as Pete but he was loyal and stuck around the farm.  Not a sheep chaser.
Grandma gave him to me  the day she died. “Alan, look after Scottie, I will not see him again.”  So Scottie became a city dog which took
some getting used to…like crossing Annette Street in Toronto…when he tried a car got him and he rolled down the road after the impact
then got to his feet and scampered back to our house.  He was tough.  And he had notions about romance.  When I tried to kiss Marjorie
in our old ’53 Meteor, Scottie growled and put his head between ours.  Protecting Marjorie maybe…or protecting me.

PETE  THE SECOND Was our first family dog.  His arrival and Dad’s retirement coincided so Dad took over walking the dog by driving Pete
down to High Park and letting him run free.  He loved to run…a super athlete.  No danger that the dog catcher would get him and if
there was trouble dad was quite ready for an argument.    Pete was with Dad the day he set the whole farm on fire.  Grass fire out of
control.  Dad came home with his pants and bare legs blackened with ashes.  Pete thought Dad was trying to outrun him but Dad was 
trying to stop the fire with his coat.  Burned about 10 acres of the 25 acre farm.  Pete was easier to control than Dad.

PRESQUE NEIGE, below,  was a sort of belated wedding gift from Faye Nichols when she took a job in the Arctic.  See the dusting of gray
on her head?  Otherwise she was ‘almost snow’.  When I got a job in the bush north of Sault Ste Marie in the summer of 1964…a geophysical
prospering job…Marjorie joined your crew a week or so after we got established art Paraise lodge on the Algoma Central Railway line.
Marjorie’s arrival was surprising.  When we flagged the ACR engine to stop, Marjorie descended dressed like a queen carrying two
prize objects.   One was her sewing machine.  The other was Presque Neige.  Amusing because there was no electricity for the sewing machine
and there were wolves howling at night for Presqjue Neige.We had a grand time on that job singing the fold songs of Ian and Sylvia,
Gordon Lightfoot and Johny Cash  while Presque sat on Marjorie’s knee oblivious to the wolves.

Marjorie flagging down the train on the wilderness route north from Sault Ste Marie.

Marjorie dancing with Serge Lavloie beside the tracks with the fellow looking amused.  Presque Neige nowhere in sight.  Too dangerous 
to let her run free.  

Presque Neige was quite content in our little cabin.

My Arctic sleeping bag could hold two people and one cat.

NEXT?  COMES TARA…THE Coonhound that never got a chance to hunt raccoons.

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