Photo: The author and his dog, Tippy. December, 1963. Robinson, Illinois.
About two years ago I began writing a memoir centered on my childhood dog, Tippy. I've since written about 10,000 words on the piece, collected photographs from family photo albums, and otherwise been engaged in an assortment of other projects that have taken me off-task time and again. This past week I reviewed the project with my agent (thanks, Cynthia) and now have a clearer direction for how I should proceed with the book.
But memoirs are tough. Especially humorous ones. And my childhood and adolescence was nothing short of laughable. I've got stories that I could never create in a million years, and some of them will curl your nose hairs.
Tippy was an incredible dog. He became my dog on my first birthday and was with me until the age of fourteen, when, one Fall day after arriving home from school, I found him dead in the barn. I buried him myself before the rest of the family arrived home (I was always first off the bus). He was my dog, and we had a kind of spiritual-affinity that I have never experienced nor shared with any animal since.
When Tippy died (he lived to sixteen), he left the world with three legs, one ear, and half of his torso-hide missing. He was a lover and a fighter, a jackrabbit and a sloth. He followed me everywhere . . . fishing, hunting, hiking, bike riding, to the basketball courts and to the swimming holes . . . .
Tippy was a rare dog. I loved him. And I know he loved me.
I'm not sure anyone will want to read about my dog . . . but I've got some side-splitting episodes from the 1960's and early 1970's. Tippy was there throughout.
Sometimes, I still dream about him. And, although it's a dog's life, he made my childhood tolerable. Now all I have to do it write the book, and I trust my agent can do the rest.