Man’s Best Friend
In 1970 my family moved from Cleveland, Ohio to
Springfield, Missouri. I had just turned
thirteen and I was lonely, not knowing anyone in
my new home.
Someone had given us a cocker poodle
named Trixi just before we left Cleveland and
she became my best friend.
long, black, curly hair that was soft to touch
and she loved showering affection with her pink
tongue across my face.
My parents purchased a two story home in a rural
area where Trixi greeted me every day after
school as if she had not seen me in years.
She was a great watchdog, always barking
at the sound of anyone coming close to our yard.
I was playing out in the front yard one day
around dusk. My father was sitting on the front
porch when Trixi announced a stranger walking
slowly down the sidewalk. “Stay inside son,” my
father told me, bringing me and the dog in and
grabbing his pistol.
I watched through the curtain as my
father hid behind the bushes, but the man didn’t
my father eventually came back inside his face
held an anxious look.
A few days later mother planned a movie and
popcorn night for my brothers and me. It was a
weekend night, so she let us stay up late. One
of those Boris Karloff movies was on and we were
all glued to the TV. My father was working late
and my mother slouched in her chair with her .22
caliber pistol on the table next to her. Trixi
dozed across my feet.
The scary movie made us all jittery, but I had
tapered off to sleep when I heard the
grandfather clock strike midnight. The stillness
was shattered by Trixi growling and lunging from
my feet and towards the kitchen door. The hinges
squeaked as the door cracked open. Trixi
advanced and in a moment had the intruder pinned
to the door. My
mother leapt up with the gun drawn.
I could see the white in the man’s eyes;
a homicidal gaze. Trixi held her ground with a
show of teeth as she whaled out barks.
Her claws bore down into the floor, her
fur on alert.
My mother trained the pistol on the intruder as
her voice propelled through the air, “Come on in
mister. I’m ready for you!” Instead, he turned
and ran out of the garage and through the
The next morning we awoke to a host of police
cars congregated on the street adjacent to our
back yard. The intruder, after having left our
house, apparently broke into the couples’ house
behind us and stabbed both of them to death.
Trixi had saved our lives that night. She licked
me with her warm pink tongue as if to say, “Why,
this was nothing, it was my pleasure.”
The next year I had the opportunity to repay
Trixi. She had become pregnant by one of the
neighborhood dogs and one of the pups was stuck
in her uterus. She crawled through the
crawlspace underneath the house to die. I was
not going to have it!
The crawlspace only yielded about six inches
between the floor and ground. I eased in face
down with just enough room to push myself. It
seemed like it took over an hour to reach her.
When I finally got close enough, I could see
half of the dead pup hanging out by the legs.
Trixi seemed determined to die under that house.
Every time I attempted to grab her leg she
snapped at my hand. Finally I talked her into
letting me drag her out and we made it to the
veterinarian barely in time to save her life.
She had to stay a few days in the
A year later my father put in for another
transfer which led us to Corinth, Mississippi.
Our new house was seated on a busy street and it
was difficult to keep Trixi safe from the
traffic. One day while I was at school, Trixi
caught sight of a cat in the yard across the
street. She bolted out of our yard and was met
with a speeding car that hit her head on.
I came home to find my mother in tears at the
front door. I watched through the curtain in the
living room as my brother dropped Trixi’s body
into the earth. I closed the curtain on her life
and my world became watery again. We barely
spoke of her in the years to come, but it wasn’t
the spoken words, it was the unheard noise, the
sounds emboldened by silence that spoke of our
true love for Trixi.