Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Irish Dog? I Think Not!

Trixie Could Have Been Summer Help

Trixie would have made a really great farm dog. She totally could have done the work, but her short coat would have made for awfully rough winters. Especially since my grandparents never took any dogs into the house. The dogs always took shelter under the wooden steps on the east side of the house, away from the west wind which, in Michigan, is as ruthless, as relentless.

Trixie could have been summer help, like the young men who came and went, summer to summer, at Uncle Keith's farm, which was right up the road.

My grandfather splurged one time on a dog that he mailed ordered from Ireland. It was supposed to be a special herding dog and cost the exorbitant sum of $200 back in 1959. (Probably comparable to about $3500 today.) The puppy came packed in a wooden crate that sat in the barn for years afterward. She arrived amid much family fanfare and excitement, not only because of the extravagance, but the wonderment of a special dog, arriving by airplane from a foreign land!

The word special did not do her justice. One of a kind, yes. She looked to be some kind of small, gray, shaggy, ah, canine. A Sheep-a-poo that got crossed up with a large Dingo Mutt? Shleep-a Ding? Grandpa got totally ripped on that deal. I've never seen any kind of dog, or picture of such a dog since, and I find myself constantly on watch for one during televised Dog Shows.

It had to be a mutt. She wasn't even a good mutt. I don't believe that she ever went out to the barn unless someone carried her. (She did like to be carried and held.) I know she never brought any cows in from pasture.

That dog was never right. Without going into detail about the dog's behavior, even as a young child (I was only 7) I could tell that something was drastically wrong. Fortunately, the Waller's, city folk who spent their summers on a small farm 1/4 miles east, took Cindy in as a house pet and treated her very well. The Waller's probably weren't really "right" either so it was a good fit.


Because the Kirk's all immigrated from Ireland to Canada before the potato famine, I asked Uncle Keith one time if he knew why they left. After all, it was a family of about 14. Eleven or twelve boys and their parents who all made the Atlantic crossing in the early 1800's.

He told me that they were thrown out of Ireland.

Thrown out? How does a whole family get thrown out of an entire country, especially Ireland?

Uncle Keith told me that they had a choice. They could have gone to Australia, or England, but instead left for Ontario, Canada. (They settled in Western Ontario, before crossing Lake Huron when it was frozen, to settle in Michigan. The town in Ontario is still called Kirkton.)

"But, they sent the criminals to Australia! They must have been really bad to get the whole family thrown out of Ireland, of all places!"

"Oh no, they weren't that bad." Uncle Keith said, "They were just drunkards and horse thieves!"


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