My grandmother took these pictures of me and our family’s adored pet Sheltie, Skipper. I was 13 years old, a brand new teenager, and Skipper was about 4 years old. My sister has been diligently digitizing my grandmother’s huge slide collection and it’s been fun discovering these glimpses back into our childhood.
Skipper was the only dog I’ve ever had. When I was a toddler I was bit by a dog, an event I don’t remember. But I do remember my parents encouraging me to pet a friendly dog at some point afterwards, in order to help me overcome my fear. It didn’t work. My fear of dogs has plagued me for my whole life, although now it’s only with larger dogs.
I was about 9 years old when my mother brought a little puppy named Skipper into our lives. I was afraid of him in the beginning. The first time my parents left me at home alone with him I got very nervous and climbed up on top of the dining room table. Skipper kept running circles around the table and there I sat until my parents came home. Goodness knows what he must have been wondering about me!
Eventually I lost my fear of him and we became good friends. My mother took him to obedience school and he was very well-mannered, affectionate and loyal. One day I brought a new kitten home. Christopher and Skipper got along well, right from the start. One evening while we were watching TV, Skipper nonchalantly walked into the living room with a playful kitten hanging on to his belly fur, upside down. 🙂
We took Skipper camping, hiking and canoeing with us on summer vacations. During the school year my sister and I were responsible for “running” him when we got home from school. (We were latchkey kids because both of my parents worked outside the home.) He was good about fetching sticks and balls, and obeyed the “drop-it” command flawlessly, but eventually he couldn’t resist his natural instinct to herd. And he loved to herd us around the yard and into the woods.
Since my father was a research scientist at the University of Connecticut, originally an agricultural college, he got permission to take Skipper to the sheep barns on campus. They allowed him to herd the sheep around the fields. It was fun to watch him zipping around, completely in his element.
He had one quirk we laughed about often. When visitors drove down the driveway and came to the door he would never bark to announce their arrival. But when my parents came home he would bark and bark until they got inside. My father kept joking that he didn’t make a very good guard dog. 🙂
Even though I do miss Skipper, I’m pretty sure he was one-of-a-kind and I’ve never desired to have another dog. But whenever I’m out and about and happen to spot a Sheltie my heart stirs and I ask permission to pet them.