Sunday, October 8, 2006


I was six years old when our family got Nipper and I think he looked about like the dog pictured here. Dog ownership was different in Kellogg, Idaho in 1959-60 than it is now. College friends of my parents, the Koepels, offered us a dog and I don't know why we took him in. I know that we treated Nipper nothing like the dog book industry says to treat a dog now, with careful training, toys, leashes, shots, and all we do today to make dogs happy. I can't tell Nipper's story in the first person. Here it is in the third.

Nipper jumped on people and nipped them.The Woolums never did anything to train him out of this. Consequently, in the summer of 1960, with Pert, the father, out of work because of the of a labor strike at theBunker Hill Mining Company, the Woolums moved to Orofino, Idaho for the summer to live with the mother, Mary,'s mother Nona. Nipper was out of control. He chased cars. When the Woolums went to Beaver Dam up the North Fork of the Clearwater or when they went across the Orofino bridge to go to the A & W in Riverside, Nipper ran after the car for blocks and blocks before retreating back to Nona's.

Orofino's town character was Lindy Carr. Every morning, Lindy walked down Michigan Avenue, Orofino's main east/west street, festooned in long dresses, purple, red, green, the brightest colors possible. Orofino was a logging town. People wore work clothes, not gypsy clothes. But Lindy wore gypsy clothes. She went to funerals, whether she knew the deceased or not, and took ribbons from the flower arrangements and tied them to herself to present herself even more colorfully.

Nipper charged and barked at Lindy when she walked down Michigan and the Woolums didn't stop him. One day, the situation worsened. Nipper had been hit by a creamery truck. It opened a gash in his side. He was in pain. Before the Woolums could get him to a vet, he charged Lindy Carr and nipped her. She said Nipper bit her. Lindy went to the doctor and had a huge bandage on her arm. Lindy reported Nipper to the police. Officer Philpot visited the Woolums and said Nipper needed to be brought under control.

Billy was six years old. He loved Nipper. He didn't know that brought under control meant put to sleep. Pert explained it to Billy. They would have Nipper put under. Pert made an appointment with the vet. In the hours before the vet appointment, Billy and Nipper went in back of Nona's house into a shed. Billy took Bactine spray. He was sure that if he could heal Nipper's gash by spraying it with Bactine, he could save Nipper's life. He sprayed and sprayed and cried and cried until his throat was sore. Nipper was calm. The gash didn't heal. Pert came to take Nipper away to the vet. Billy stayed in the shed. He came out at dinner time. Pert and Mary assured him that the vet who brought Nipper under control was a very nice man.

1 comment:

classified said...

I heard stories about Lindy Carr when I was growing up. People in Orofino didn't really understand her. :)