We have always been a "Dog" family. As long as I can remember, almost everyone in my family has had at least one dog in their home. Much to the chagrin of my Grandpa, Chuck, the dogs were treated as family members. Grandpa would bring a dog home, tell us it was a hunting dog and we were to keep away from it. Well, as soon as he would leave the house. The dog came in and was spoiled.
My Nana, Ferne, my mom and her sister, Marian, and I could not resist. To this day I don't really understand the concept of an "outside" dog, I actually find it a little mean. Dogs are pack animals; they want to be with their pack, even if the other members are humans. The women in the family "ruined" a: German Shorthaired Pointer, an Irish Setter and a Springer Spaniel. Finally, Grandpa gave up and stopped bringing home hunting dogs.
My grandparent's house was without a dog for a few years. Around my 6th birthday, my uncle brought home a male Springer Spaniel. We named him "Tigger". He was from champion lineage, but as a result of irresponsible in breeding, he had problems. Bad ears that was prone to infections and too many "jowls". To add insult to injury, he was a little dimwitted. We loved him nonetheless and he was welcomed into "our" pack.
When Tigger was about 6 months old, my Aunt saw a man beating his dog. She started yelling at the man to stop. He was pissed because the dog had eaten his peppers in his garden. Aunt Marian said if he did not stop, she was going to report him. He said; "If you care so much about this dog, you take her!" She did. That is how we got our second Springer Spaniel, Daisy May.
Grandpa had not been thrilled with Tigger's arrival. When Daisy May showed up, he almost blew a gasket. He started bitching about how much money it would cost him to feed the dogs, the cost of the grooming, the cost of the vet bills, etc. He said he wasn't going to pay for any of it, "You three need to get a God-damned job to pay for those God-damned dogs. I am not gonna pay for a God-damned cent!" I knew he was all talk, but over the next few months, he kept repeating the same thing, over and over again.
Eventually, Nana had enough of his bellowing, so she told him; "Chuck, you be quiet. I am taking the dogs for a walk each night and while I am walking, I collect cans. I will pay for the dogs with the money I get for the cans." My Aunt Marian and I thought Grandpa would say he didn't want his wife walking around town collecting cans like a hobo, but he didn't. Both were stubborn and neither would give in.
So every night, after the 11 o'clock news, Nana would walk her dogs and collect cans. I would go with her most of the time. I would wear my roller skates and skate along side her. We would head out on Orange Avenue, cross Sierra Blvd, stop at City Hall so the dogs could swim in the fountain and I could practice my groovy roller disco moves on the smooth cement. Then turn on Palmetto, take it down to Arrow Blvd and maybe stop at the Post Office if we needed to mail some letters, then back onto Nuevo Avenue. We had a routine, unless the dogs needed a shorter or longer walk.
Nana was getting a bit obsessive with her can collecting. She would even go through garbage cans looking for cans. It was embarrassing. But neither Nana nor Grandpa would budge.
Until one morning...
My Aunt Marian woke up late for school, so Nana had to give her a ride. Marian was so late, that Nana had to drive her wearing her housecoat and slippers. On the way to FoHi, Nana saw a can in the middle of the road. Marian saw the look in Nana's eyes and said "Don't you dare! You will make me really late!" So Nana kept on going and dropped Marian off in the nick of time.
On the way home, she saw the can. Since she wasn't dressed, she didn't want to get out of the car. So she drove up slowly along side the can, opened her car door and leaned down to pick up the can. When she did this, her foot slipped off the gas pedal, the car started rolling forward, Nana fell out of the car and the car's back tires rolled over her right ankle before heading down Nuevo Avenue without her.
Luckily, Dr. Goldstein, our family doctor, was just coming to work. He saw Nana lying in the middle of the road and rescued her. A little later, Grandpa was coming home and he noticed a fuzzy pink slipper in the middle of the road. Then he noticed that Nana's car was on the side of the road. He went home to see what was going on...no one was home. Nana's coffee still sat at the kitchen table, the paper open. He was worried. Just then, the phone rang. It was the doctor, he told Grandpa that Nana was okay, and she had just sprained her ankle. Grandpa asked how, the doctor told him about the can. Then, Dr. Goldstein said; "You know Chuck, if money is tight, I know a few people who are looking to remodel. I could probably throw a few jobs your way."
Grandpa never gave Nana a hard time about the cost of dog ownership again.