Going home isn’t the same without Pickles

Published 6:49 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2017

His name was Pickles.

Pickles was a blonde cocker spaniel. His name was a compromise to settle a heated argument between my brother and sister over what to name him when he was brought home as a puppy.

Pickles exposed me for what I really was. That night after we had gone to bed and he was placed in the large cardboard box that served as his temporary bed, Pickles began, as most lonely pups do, to whine — loudly. Not being able to sleep, I went to the kitchen to check up on him and decided to soothe his feelings. The next thing I knew, there was my father standing there ready to give his judgment.

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“You’ll never be a mean man,” he said. He turned out to be right, although there are some politicians in Louisiana who might give you odds on that.

Pickles was an interesting addition to the family. He was, up until his old age, very active. He was very protective of us to a point — if someone came into the yard and none of us were outside, he’d welcome the visitor. Once we stepped into the yard, however, the hair would stand up on his back, he’d bare his teeth and growl and bark at the invader until we could prove the newcomer was friendly.

He proved his ability to protect the night of the rehearsal supper before my wife and I got married. The supper was at my parents’ home, and we had invited the priest who married us to the dinner. We wondered where Father Ott was until we heard a knock at the back door.

“I came to the front, and there was your dog barking,” father said. “I didn’t know if he was friend or foe.”

He was a beggar — a champion beggar. Now all dog owners will talk about how their dog can beg, but Pickles was a master at it. There’s something about spaniels and those big brown eyes that can make you feel guilty, and whether it was at the table inside or sitting outside eating barbeque, there he was.

That head putting just the right amount of pressure on your leg to get your attention, and when you looked down it was those eyes. They could melt you.

When our daughter was born, Pickles proved to be a very patient animal as he put up with the infant and later the toddler who wanted to pet him and hold him, sometimes pulling his fur in the process.

In time, long after we had moved away and Kimberly had grown, Pickles, hobbled by ailments and age, had to be put down. It saddened me. He had been a member of the family for so long, and it was hard to return to Baton Rouge and not see him trot to fence with his stubby tail wagging.

I’m not known as an animal lover, but I miss him to this day. He was something special.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may email him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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