However, it reminded me of another story, of kidnapping, imprisonment and music.
I was living in the country, Clinton Corners, New York. I owned a sweet, hound-like, mostly black mutt, named Puppy. I had inherited him from my grandmother in Poughkeepsie who, after a certain stage in her life, had called all her dogs Puppy. Earlier, she had owned dachshunds and called them all Schatzie.
In Clinton Corners, Puppy had found Paradise. The day I brought him home, once he realized he was in the country, in the middle of the woods, free to go wherever he liked (these realizations came to him within three minutes of my letting him out of the car), he became a different dog from the lazy mutt he’d been at my grandmother’s.
Puppy never became blasé about his new life, he never ceased to marvel at his luck at being somewhere other than Poughkeepsie, somewhere full of so many delicious scents that he didn’t know which one to follow down next. He was not a smart dog, but he was a grateful dog, grateful to me and, I felt, grateful beyond that, grateful to Fate. He also was a loving and faithful dog, although I did not realize it at first, since all he could “think” about (besides food, of course) was running around in the big outdoors.
Then one day I was out on the ice of our pond, trying to haul some firewood homeward on a toboggan. I had paused, to better secure the logs on the sled with one of those elastic bungee cords. The cord didn’t catch and snapped back, the metal hook hitting me in the face, very close to my eye. It was a wicked blow, and a little frightening too. In shock and pain I uttered a loud cry.
Within twenty seconds, Puppy, whom I had not seen all day, who had been out in the woods doing his thing, broke through the brush at the edge of the pond and came racing across the ice to where I was slumped. He licked my face over and over – something he was not in the habit of doing – and didn’t stop until I had assured him, many times, that I was okay.
Sometime in the early ‘80’s I also was looking after my sister’s dog, a black Lab named Luke – another sweet dog, maybe a little brighter than Puppy, but not by much. One night, Puppy and Luke did not come home. It was something which had never happened before, and I was concerned.
Some weeks earlier a pick-up truck had come up the driveway. Out stepped a tough looking, stocky little guy, I guessed he was of Italian extraction. He said he owned the cattle farm down the road (it always seemed to be changing hands) and that my dogs were running after his steers. If he saw the dogs again, he said, he would shoot them.
I knew he was within his rights – not only legally, but morally – to shoot any dogs chasing his cattle, but I asked him, if my dogs came chasing his cattle again, could he please shoot over their heads. I assured him that they wouldn’t return after that. Puppy and Luke were not bright, but I knew they weren’t idiots either. The farmer didn’t reply, only grunted, got back in his truck and left. So, naturally, when Puppy and Luke did not come home, I was very worried.
The morning after they went missing, I made my usual trip to the post office to pick up my mail and asked the postmistress if she could have the drivers keep their eyes open for Puppy and Luke. With a knowing look, the postmistress said that I should try the big house behind the high wall, at the end of Hibernia Road. She’d heard that they picked up stray dogs and played music to them. A weird remark, yes – but we were less than two decades beyond the ‘60’s, so not as weird as it would be today.
I drove down to the end of Hibernia Road. The house, which I dated to the pre-Depression boom, was part of a well-maintained estate. There was a high iron gate and I had to press a button and respond to a query through a security system. “I’m looking for a couple of lost dogs,” I said. The gate immediately swung open, as did the front door when I rang the bell. A young hippy couple greeted me. Back then, hippies came in various styles, and these were bumpkin hippies, she barefoot in a loose cotton dress, he in jeans (of course), a plaid shirt and sandals. A Mozart violin concerto was playing somewhere.
I described my dogs. The young woman went right upstairs. I heard a door open – the Mozart became momentarily louder – then Puppy and Luke came bounding down, happy as clams.
That’s the end of the story. You may have some questions, but I don’t have the answers. Puppy and Luke certainly weren't talking.