1937 my dad went to Gadsden with Marvin Self to sell farm produce.  To our astonishment he returned with a dog.  It was the most impressive canine I had ever seen, a large dog, jet black, and the picture of health and vitality.  His name was Penny.  Dad said he was a Belgian police dog.  A family in Gadsden wanted to give the dog to a good home and, surprisingly, my dad brought him home.  To this point we had not had any dogs.  The time was the thirties and it was difficult enough to feed the family without the addition of non-producing animals.

My brother Arvel and I immediately fell in love with the dog.  He was a great pet and reciprocated our affection.  But a great problem arose.  Some gene in Penny made him believe he had to forage for food, and he killed and ate chickens.  Needless to say, this was unacceptable in a farm dog since both chickens and dogs lived on the same grounds outside.  My brother and I whipped Penny severely and rubbed his nose in one of the killed chickens, but he never got the message.

At the time of his next kill, my dad said, “He's got to go, and tomorrow I will shoot him.” This was a Sunday and several of my mothers family were visiting.  I spent most of the day crying, troubled by Penny's impending demise.  Just as he promised, the next day my dad took the dog and his shotgun into the woods and returned alone.

NEXT: The Order of Things