May 26, 2006

My Blue Heaven

OK, Susie’s been spring-cleaning again, and that means lots of old photos are surfacing around here. Here’s one (taken about 30 years ago, I’m guessing) of my dad with our Labrador Retriever named Blue.

What a great dog to grow up with. I mean, what a great dog. What a great retriever of baseballs lost in deep weeds. What a great swimming companion in the middle of a lake. What a great pillow.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of Blue? Loyal. The dog was true-blue. I still remember an incident that occurred 30-plus years ago when I was in first or second grade – I’m pretty sure it was first – at Wayside Elementary School in Bartlesville. I did some fact-checking yesterday with my dad, my mom, and my older brother (who was also a Wayside student at the time) to make sure I had the story right after all these years.

I’m sitting there at my desk one morning – our desks were aligned in straight rows – and I glance over to my right. Sitting there in the aisle, right beside me, is Blue. Just sitting there looking up at me.

How did he get there? I have no idea. I don’t think he had ever been to the school before. I don’t think he knew where it was or that I spent my days there.

How did he find his way from our house to the school? I don’t know. The school was maybe a mile or more from our house as the crow flies, but longer than that when you travel (as I did, on big yellow flat-nose school bus # 23) through our neighborhood, onto Silver Lake Road, onto Price Road, over to Highway 75, and then to Wayside Drive. Did Blue follow the roads? Did he cut through the golf course and then through an open field? I don’t know.

Once he got to the school, how did he get in the building? How did he walk the halls without an adult stopping him? And then how did he find my classroom, and find me?

I’m pretty sure that nose of his (he was a retriever, after all) had something to do with all of this. And I’m pretty sure no kid ever had a better dog than Blue.

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