In Honor of Arrow Bohemian Rhapsody (1976-1988)
“Kindergarten is stupid.” She thought. The others kids couldn’t think of things by themselves and they couldn’t read and they couldn’t tie their own shoes. One girl cried in the coatroom every day because she couldn’t put on her own boots. The only great thing about school so far was the bus ride home. She loved her bus driver – Mrs. Bolden. Even her name was cool – Corky.
Corky was friends with her parents and Corky was alive in a way that made her so very interesting to one so young. Not only was Mrs. Bolden a really neat person, but her dog had just had puppies and the little girl had always wanted a puppy of her very own. A boy in her class, Bobby Freedman from down the road, had already gotten one. She was told, though, that the family already had a dog and they weren’t looking to get another one. Her father’s hunting dog, Sailor, was an outside dog that stayed tied to the shed so he wouldn’t run off after rabbits – he was nice, but not so much fun.
She sat lazily thinking about the wonder of puppies when the bus stopped at her house. Deep in thought, she wandered off the bus and was almost halfway up the driveway when she noticed the police cars. When she went inside, her mother and sisters were cleaning little circles of black dust off of everywhere. Their house had been robbed. That night, she overheard her father telling her mother that they needed a dog inside the house, and her mother mentioning Corky’s puppies. They were half purebred golden retriever and half purebred German Shepherd. Those puppies would make good house pets as well as good watchdogs when they grew up.
Within a week, the day of the puppy’s arrival came and she was so excited that she could barely sit still through her half-day of school. He was there when she got home – so small and brown with white paws and a white tummy. His fur was so soft and smelled so wonderful everyone fell in love with that pup almost immediately. There was a great debate on what to name him but the white blaze on the back of his neck was in the perfect shape of an arrow, and thus Arrow was named. Her oldest sister gave him the middle name of Bohemian Rhapsody, which the girl didn’t understand and thought was silly, but the name stuck.
He wasn’t an indoor dog at first because mom didn’t want him to piddle on the carpet, but after weeks of being snuck into the house by her older siblings, Arrow inserted his way into his home. The little girl wanted him to be her puppy, but was told that he was the family dog and belonged to everyone. The dog had different ideas and chose the middle child—a thirteen year old boy--as his owner. They were inseparable for the first five years of Arrow’s life, until the boy, Carl, became a man and joined the Air Force. The dog searched for him every day for weeks, but the boy never came home.
By this time, the girl was 11 and was exploring the countryside on her own. The dog resigned himself to the disappearance of the boy and chose the girl as his new owner. They tracked rabbits together and afterwards she would gently pick the burrs from his tail. They ran after butterflies together, and lay together in the tall grass. While she hunted for fossils in the landfill behind their home, he hunted for mice. They became the best of friends.
Arrow was the king of his kingdom. Other dogs in the area were few but they knew of Arrow and paid rightful homage to his property. As long as they remained on the road, Arrow had no quarrel with any of them, but step one paw off the road and there was hell to pay.
The dog and the girl lived an idyllic existence together in the fields and the woods until the girl became a woman and left for college. Every day he searched for her as he had for the boy, but she never returned and he was too old to change owners again. He contented himself by living in the house of the girl and her brother before her - keeping her parents company as they too grew old. He knew that his bones ached too much and that his hearing wasn’t quite as keen as in his youth. He stayed close to the house and let the rabbits do their running without him.
One night in November 1988 – two weeks before Thanksgiving – Arrow asked to be let out of the house and was granted his wish. He never returned.
The girl found him the following spring. He is buried where he lay near the fields they both loved so much.
Just before the girl left Michigan, she found a nest of baby rabbits and raised them until they could fend for themselves. She took them back to the old homestead and released them into Arrow’s field as homage to her dearest friend. The girl can now content herself with remembering that noble dog. To this day, he’s hunting rabbits in the fields that will always belong to him.
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