As many of the people who read my blogs know, I write for other places too. I was asked to write a story about an animal that changed someone’s life, either for the better or for the worse. This is the story I sent them:
Brace yourself. This is actually a true story that happened in my childhood, and as you read, you will understand why I said, “Brace yourself,” just don’t cry, be forewarned. If anyone knows anything about my childhood, it wasn’t spent in America. My early school years were spent in England, and then Morocco. This story takes place in Morocco. My dad worked out of the embassy in Rabat, Morocco. There were no military bases, but there were American military people around. My dad taught electricity in Arabic to the Arabs. We lived in a huge villa in a village outside of Rabat named Tamara. We were actually the first American family to move to that village. All of our neighbors were Arabs. There was a laughing hyaena that lived tied up behind our house that used to laugh all night keeping us awake. My mother had a maid named Fatna, and we also had a gardener named Yagoop. I was the second of four kids. I had an older sister and two younger brothers. My sister, one of my brothers, and I attended Rabat American School, an embassy school in Rabat. When we moved to Tamara, the embassy sent a chauffer driven limousine to pick us up everyday and take us to school. My mother was so particular about everything. Our hair and our clothes had to be perfect at all times. She kept telling us that we were ambassadors of the United States, and we had to represent America well.
After we moved to Tamara, other American families liked the idea, and they began moving to Tamara too. There were so many families with so many kids the embassy decided they would begin sending a mini-bus for us instead of the limousine. We were excited about the mini-bus because it was in the 1960’s, and the mini-bus was a really new kind of vehicle. We had never seen one like it before. One of the older boys on the bus acted as the bus monitor and kept everyone in line. As I said, there were no American military bases there, but the dads of several of the kids on the bus were in the military. As we went along on the bus, we would sing all the military songs, songs like “Over hill, over dale, we shall hit the dusty trail as those caissons go rolling along!” Or we would sing, “Off we go, into the wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sky…” We sang the songs of all the branches of the American military. Just before we got to Tamara, there was a hill. When we got upon the hill, we were all very attentive. You see, we were close to the beach, and there were always wales in the water spouting. It was a wonderful sight! We were a group of American kids in a foreign country, and we all played together. Sometimes, my mother gave parties and invited them all. That is how I learned about homemade ice cream. My dad had a friend named McAninie who was clown, and he came to the parties all dressed up and entertained us. Sometimes,, the other families gave parties too.
My sister and I used to spent a lot of time with a little girl named Marie. Marie had a couple of younger brothers. There was a pool in their back yard where we often swam with Marie and her brothers. Often Marie would invite us to swim with her and spend the night, and we would eat pancakes for breakfast the next morning. My mother always made big pancakes, but Marie’s mother made silver dollar pancakes, really small ones. Marie’s bother who was our age was named Bobby, and Bobby played with us too.
Marie and Bobby’s family name was Savaria. The Savaria family gave parties sometimes too. We were there on Halloween. All the kids were dressed up. One of the girls, a colonel’s daughter didn’t come, and Bobby and I were concerned she didn’t know about the party, so we set off in our costumes down the street to find out where she was. I was dressed like a gypsy, and he was dressed like a devil. We scared the Arabs to death! They had never seen anything like us! If they saw us, their eyes got really big! Some of them ran. Some of them just quickly moved to the other side of the street and tried really hard to put distance between us and them. We were just kids, and we thought they were very funny. When we got to the colonel’s house, all the lights were out, and they were gone, so we went back to the party.
Marie and Bobby’s dad was so happy to be in Morocco!! They lived in a big village like we did. He kept extending his stay in Morocco. He put a big sign above the front gate of their house. It read, “El Rancho Savaria.” He had decided he had found the place he wanted to live for the rest of his life.
Not long after that, something happened that changed a lot of lives. Bobby had a dog. The dog was always tied up toward the back of the house. His dog scared me all the time. I was glad he was on a rope because the dog was always barking and lunging toward me as I inched my way along the wall trying to stay away from it. Bobby loved his dog. Bobby went out to feed his dog one day, and as he put the food down in front of his dog, the dog lunged at Bobby and bit him all over the face.
Bobby’s dad was so upset that he took his gun and went out and shot the dog. He cut the dog’s head off and sent it away to a lab for testing. When the results came back, the dog had rabbis. Evidently a donkey that had rabbis had come up into the yard the night before and bit Bobby’s dog giving the dog rabbis.
Before too long, we were at El Rancho Savaria again, and my mother was talking to Bobby’ mother. She said that Bobby had been on his hands and knees like a dog barking and snapping at the other kids when they were playing, and it scared her. The medic said it was too late. Because the dog had bitten Bobby in the face, it was too close to his brain and had gone to his brain quickly. if the dog had bitten him somewhere else, there may have been hope, but because he had been bitten in the face, Bobby had rabbis.
The Savarias had to get rid of El Rancho Savaria and go back to America. When we went back to America, we went to visit them. I wasn’t allowed to see Bobby. Bobby was in the hospital. They had had to tie him to his bed to stop him from running around and trying to bite people. His mother said that when she went into his room, he would ask her not to step so loudly, and she really had to creep if she wanted to see him. He said that her footsteps hurt him. He was afraid of water. They said Bobby was going to die.
What happened to Bobby never left me. I like dogs, but to this day, I keep my distance. I can see a puppy and think they are cute, but I always back off from them. I have this inherent feeling that they are dirty, and their germs will hurt me. When I see people letting dogs lick them in the face, I just can’t take it. That dog effected so many people’s lives. My brothers both took those fourteen shots in the stomach, but perhaps they weren’t old enough to understand what was happening because my brothers always have dogs. Their dogs are the side kicks. One of my brothers asked me to come and live with him, but I can’t. The last time I was there, I was sleeping in his back living room, and his dog woke me up by licking me in the face. It scared me, and I just can’t take it. I will probably never get over the feeling that dogs are dirty. I have worked at being benevolent toward dogs. However, if I pet a dog, I can’t wait until I get somewhere where I can wash my hands. The dog at El Rancho Savaria colored my disposition toward dogs forever. Bobby never got to grow up like I did.