Monday, June 7, 2010

Penny for your thoughts.

I'm not the first dog that Mike and Jeannie have had in their family. In 1977, when they lived in Dahlonega, GA, they adopted an AKC-registered Irish setter named Lady Jennifer O'Tara--Jenny for short. Jenny was about a year old when she came to live with them. I guess in a sense they "rescued" her, because her first and second owners didn't want her. The first one said she was too rambunctious for the small apartment he lived in. The second took her for a while, but then decided he'd rather have a German shepherd, which would be a lot easier to train. They both said Jenny was something of an airhead.

Many humans think that while Irish setters are beautiful, loyal, and friendly dogs, they aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. Others say they're very smart, but hardheaded. Speaking of heads, most of them have a small bump at the base of their skulls. Some people call it an "intelligence bump," and others say yeah, cuz that's where they keep their tiny brains. And then the first ones say au contraire, it's a target so their dumb humans will know where to scratch. I don't guess you're ever gonna get a consensus on how bright and trainable Irish setters are or are not. It all depends on who you ask. By the way, a lot of golden retrievers have those intelligence bumps, too.

That reminds me: What do you call a blonde with a high IQ? Answer: a golden retriever! But I digress . . .

So M and J became Jenny's third owners. But right away there was a communications problem in the household, because they already had a daughter named Jenny. So whenever there was a Jenny who needed yelling at, M or J would say, "Jenny!" and two heads would pop up instead of one. It got very confusing, and they soon decided their new pup needed a new name. Then they noticed that the dog's coat was dark red and shiny like a brand new copper penny and that Penny rhymes with Jenny--and wah-LAH! From then on, Jenny-the-dog was Penny, and Jenny-the-human stayed Jenny, and people could be sure they were yelling at the right individual.

By now you're probably dying to see what Penny, nee Lady Jennifer O'Tara, looked like. I think you'll agree that she was a bit foxy. Here she is with Jenny, when Jenny was just four years old:

And here's Penny with Jenny's older sister, Bonnie, at a dog show the following year:

One more picture from the early days--one that makes me green with envy. I have always wanted to stretch out in front of a blazing fireplace. Maybe next winter . . .

And then Penny did what most domesticated creatures do if they're lucky enough to have loving homes where they are well cared for. She grew old. Here she is with Jenny again, this time at Christmas in 1987, at the house in Florida where I live now. Look at the wisdom in that sweet gray face:

These other pictures were all taken that same year, just months before Penny died. Here she is with Bonnie:

And with Jeannie:

And with Mike:

There's a framed enlargement of that one hanging on the wall in J's office. I know they all still miss her.

Bonnie was a high school senior in the spring of that year and took a class in photography, where she learned to develop black and white film and print her own pictures. I'll close this tribute with one that she made into a poster:

1976 - 1988


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Buddy, for that walk down memory lane. Speaking of memories, though, I don't remember ever having seen those pictures of Penny and her family. I guess Tom T. Hall was right; old dogs are pretty special.

Love, Grandma

Lady Jenny(fer) O'Rlando said...

What a beautiful tribute! We miss you, Penny! (By the way, if Penny were still alive, she'd be 34 years old.)

Bonnie said...

Aw, sweet Penny! Remember how all the neighbors knew her before they knew us?

BUDDY said...

Well, I don't remember how she met all the neighbors first, since that was before my time. But M tells me that she did love to roam around Brandywine before you guys even moved here. He also said that her wandering habit got her stuck in a storm drain once. That sounds like something I'd pull!