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Dogs I have known

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

I am currently so distressed with the condition of politics at the national, state and local levels (including Ohio and Georgia) that I will be doing some escapism for a while.

We are going to talk about dogs I have known – a mostly pleasant subject (until they die).

There is an old black-and-white picture somewhere around here that shows me, probably as a 3-year-old, sitting on the back steps of the house in Troy, holding a puppy and smiling from ear to ear. I don’t remember the picture or the puppy, but it is obvious I have loved dogs from an early age.

I was in the first grade for the school year 1956-57. It was a momentous year. My parents bought the McNary Farm in eastern Highland County sometime in the winter.

In the spring, in school, we saw a movie with a dog named “Buttons” in it. Now, you have to understand in those days a movie in the classroom was a big deal. The teacher had to get the movie projector and the screen. Then, it all had to be set up and the movie, on a big reel, had to be threaded through the projector. The blinds needed to be drawn so it was dark enough to see the movie.

Ironically, I don’t remember anything about the movie except it was about a dog, and the dog’s name was “Buttons.”

Speaking of movies, in 1957 “Old Yeller” came out, and we went to Dayton to see it. I assume at this late date, no spoiler alerts are needed for "Old Yeller, but you can be sure I was highly upset when Old Yeller got “hydrophobia” (rabies) and had to be dispatched.

I was more upset with that than when in “To Kill a Mockingbird” Atticus Finch shot the rabid dog down the street. Guess the evil Walt Disney had no hand in creating an attachment to that dog as he did in “Old Yeller.”

I digress.

Late in the spring of 1957, just before school was out, my parents found a puppy for me. Buttons, which of course is what I named him, was a Cocker Spaniel/Terrier mix gotten from a litter of a friend’s dog. He was the only one in the litter that did not look Cocker Spaniel. He was short-haired, brown and his tail was docked at about four inches.

The first evening he was home with us, my brother and I played with him so much he kept wanting to crawl back into the box we were using for his temporary home and go to sleep. It was a pleasant evening I have remembered all these years later.

The last day of school, we were allowed to bring pets and so forth to school. So, you can imagine how proud I was to put Buttons on his leash and take him to school. It was a five-block walk to school. I was fortunate that he did not wiggle loose.

Looking back on this experience, I am amazed my mother let me do this. A loose dog would have been a disaster, for I surely would have run out in the street to catch him had he gotten away.

Mother was not going to have an “inside” dog, so a pen needed to be prepared for Buttons. That is a story unto its self, and we will save that for next week.

However, let's recall that my parents had just bought the McNary Farm, so Button’s confinement would be from Sunday evening when we returned from the farm until Friday evening, when we came back to Highland County.

On the weekends, he was as free as a bird.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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