Dogs are also memorable

“When I was a lad and Old Shep was a pup, over hills and meadows we’d stray, just a boy and his dog, we were both full of fun. We great up together that way!”
Well, my boyhood chum was not named Shep, but Cubby. I do remember him fondly, and he meant much to us as both a watchdog and for pulling sleighs.
But Cubby had one unloveable habit. Once in a while he would bite someone!
My dad appreciated Cub for his hauling which, along with his mate, seemed tireless. Cubby weighed probably around 75 pounds but looked larger and could close his jaws on someone’s hand in a vicious snap.
Then, knowing he had done wrong, he would cringe for a beating which never seemed to prevent a future bite.
He was boisterously friendly towards all comers, but not be trusted. He was a born watchdog and this seemed to lie below his customary good nature until strangers—always admiring his good looks—reached out to pat him.
With my family, Cub was priceless and, like Old Shep, a delight to know, so sunny always. You knew he was happy and almost laughing until suddenly he changed!
He would accompany my dad to work on a three-mile hike to a gold mine. Dad kept his noon lunch in a packsack, which he would drop off in a corner of the hoist house where Cub sprawled beside it all day and then eat with the best of manners along with the men, who always talked to him like an equal.
Never did he bite anyone at the mine.
In wintertime, the sleigh rides pleased Cub as much as anyone and brightened my dad’s day.
He could stop off to check his rabbit snares going home and the dogs got rabbit stew and corn meal for supper, along with an occasional porcupine.
Cub found out the porcy’s quills could be dangerous and also that skunks were to be avoided. As a town dog, he had to learn a lot about bush life! But he also brought some forest ways back to town, including much more guardianship than most town dogs.
He had to be watched when not chained so the delivery men were not attacked!
A town meter reader got his jacket torn and my parents had to keep apologizing even though those people Cub bothered had not even knocked on the door before entering, and they soon developed better manners.
But we lived on the north edge of town then and got Cub out in the bush to chase squirrels frequently, so he wouldn’t miss the trees much. Yet you could tell he was restless after being tied all day long.
Then he would gallop up and jump at us when let loose. He was still bounding around us even as an old dog, but occasionally he might be gone for an hour or so and we worried.
Then came the message we feared. Cub was dead, apparently another car accident victim. He never liked chasing cars like other dogs, although tempted to run after horses.
Cubby had his own ways and many friends in spite of his unpredictable ways. They asked about him for years later. I can’t say the following lines apply to Cub, but who knows?
“Now old Shep had gone where good doggies go, And no more will we wander and play. But if dogs have a heaven, there’s one thing I know, Old Shep has a wonderful home!”
• • •
Lil Pihulak of Crozier, the well-known fisherwoman, and sister Della, of International Falls, were nieces of a colourful Italian in Crozier named Valentine DePiero of whom numerous stories are still told today—many years since he died.
For one thing, this ingenious old-timer managed any number of inventions, including fashioning wheels of concrete for an old car he kept to run around in through the bush. He also had a hen which awakened him when it laid an egg for his breakfast!
Valentine also built his own accordion!
• • •
Others walk around the top of the hockey arena to check their arthritis, while Krukoski depends on a daily swim in the Red Dog pool.
• • •
I imagine the histories of old Devlin probably will include memories of the Thanksgiving fire of 1938, north of La Vallee. Devlin and La Vallee are both parts of La Vallee municipality.
Nell LaBelle, who was away at school that year, accompanied me to the site of 10 deaths’ in that famous disaster. I met her again last week. My wife went with us to that fatal site because her own father was related to the LaBelles by marriage.
Irene Haver (nee Hill) may not get much on Jesse James as she helps chronicle the histories of her Devlin neighbours for their 2004 centennial book, but I once met her late father-in-law, Fred Haver, who knew that famous old outlaw!
Irene is a well-known school teacher who expects to enjoy writing the Devlin family histories, and already is well along in her big task.
Her own background is in Burriss and Miscampbell, the northern part of Devlin, where the Hills were popular. We all knew for witty father, Nick, who used to throw his famous line “Greeting and hallucinations!” at everyone he met!
• • •
Finally I had opportunity to ask Dennis Busch whether Colin Russell ever got back here to met him after Colin moved our steel boat-building business down to Owen Sound. I met Colin there during our first Allan Cup hockey finals in 1951.
Dennis said a son of Colin stopped here to meet him once because Dennis, along a local welder and steel worker, took over the place on our river where Russell had worked. The Busch plant later moved north of the railroad.
• • •
Howard Pointer, now 89, will answer your questions with a pencil and paper because his speech left him in 1985, after a stroke. But he remains an entertainer among friends as the Sister Kennedy Centre, where he is fond of shooting pool.
Howard played the violin besides working in the Fort Frances railroad yard 25 years as a clerk while raising four children.
So he brings along his record player to play the square dances at times and it’s “Alemand left and corners all” and sometimes the Kennedy ladies respond in dance.
Or maybe Howard will show off a pair of 80-year-old pocket watches such as all old railroaders carried. These dependable time pieces cost only one dollar when new and still keep perfect time.
Howard’s watches are very attractive still and certainly would fetch higher prices today! (For the veterans who know such watches, one of Howard’s is a Westclox and the other an Autocrat).

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