Walking the Dog #Musical Monday

The song I’m featuring today was used in the 1938 classic, Shall We Dance, starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. I recently learned about this movie while listening to a program on my local classical music station called Saturday Cinema. Before playing the song, the host explained that in the movie, when we hear the song, Ginger Rogers is walking her dog on the deck of a ship. She encounters Fred Astaire, and they start dancing. I’d heard this song before, and it brought back many pleasant memories of our family’s canine companions.

During the 1970’s when I was in high school, I often walked Clancy, our Irish setter. This was in the good old days before stricter leash laws were imposed. I walked down the street with Clancy prancing ahead of me, sniffing everything he saw. With my limited vision, I couldn’t tell what he was getting into, and at my age, I didn’t care, most of the time.

I avoided alleys altogether because I knew the smelly fish heads in which he loved to roll lurked there. Back then, it was unheard of to tell a dog to “leave it.” Clancy passed away while I was in college.

As an adult practicing music therapy in a nursing home, I often walked with my father and his Irish setter, Maud. One afternoon, we were passing the home of my supervisor, Arlis, when Maud, with no modesty whatsoever, relieved herself in the yard, just as Arlis was opening her front door. Not knowing how she felt about dogs, I wondered if I would lose my job. All my career training hadn’t prepared me for this.

To my surprise and relief, she smiled and greeted me as if nothing were wrong. I introduced her to Dad and Maud, and all seemed well. To be on the safe side, though, when I returned to work, I apologized, even though Maud wasn’t my dog. She just laughed. Apparently, she hadn’t noticed Maud watering her lawn.

Now, the only time I walk a dog is when I visit my brother in Jupiter, Florida. We walk Sammy and Max on their leashes the few blocks to a wildlife preserve near their home, then let them loose for some fun. The next time I go to Florida and engage in this quality sibling time activity, I imagine this piece will be going through my head. Enjoy!



By the way, from now until July 31st, you can download My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress absolutely free from Smashwords as part of its annual summer/winter sale. Click here to visit my Smashwords author page.

Also, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. Thank you for reading.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.


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The Ice Cream Stand

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Thanks to blogger Mary Hiland for inspiring this. In her post, she shares memories of buying sweet treats from an ice cream truck as a kid.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t a fan of cones, Eskimo pies, or any other treats you could eat with your fingers. Instead, I preferred malts, sundaes, and other treats that could be eaten with a straw or spoon. The stand at Kendrick Park here in Sheridan, Wyoming, had plenty of those. When I was in high school and college, our house was only a block away from the park. My younger brother and I often walked over and swam in the pool, then bought ice cream. Behind the stand was a playground, and when I was younger, I often enjoyed myself there, even after Mother accidentally caused me to fall off a swing.

On Tuesday nights when there were concerts in the park, Dad and I often took our Irish setter, Clancy, over. After the concert, we made our way to the ice cream stand. While I had my usual chocolate malt, Dad got a vanilla cone and a spoon. He told Clancy to sit, and he fed him some of the ice cream from the cone. When the cone was empty, he gave that to the dog as well.

One summer, my ten-year-old cousin Shelley and her family were visiting us from Iowa. Dad, Shelley, Clancy and I walked to the park as usual on a Tuesday evening. We brought lawn chairs, and after the concert, Dad decided to stow them behind a tree while we made the quarter-mile trip to the ice cream stand. When we returned to that tree after enjoying our treats as usual, the chairs were gone.

Dad told Shelley and me to start walking home while he looked around to see if the chairs had been dumped somewhere else. They were old and not of much value. While we waited to cross a busy street, to our surprise, Shelley spotted the chairs in the back of a green pick-up truck that was driving by us.

So, when we got home, Dad called the police. When the detective arrived, Shelley gave him a description of the truck. The next day, the chairs were found. Unfortunately, the police needed to keep them for evidence, and we didn’t get them back until October. By that time, I was away at college, and attending band concerts and eating ice  cream were far from my mind.

What about you? Do you have any specific memories of buying and eating ice cream from a stand or truck? What was your favorite kind of ice cream? Did you prefer it in a cone, dish, or malt? Any way you like your ice cream, I hope you enjoy plenty of it this summer.


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My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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Jim, the Mischievous King

After reading the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book, I was inspired to write my own canine tale. I doubt Chicken Soup for the Soul will publish any more dog books, since they already have two on the market, so I’ll post my dog story here.


In the spring of 1977 when I was a freshman in high school, and my younger brother Andy was in fourth grade, our family decided to get a dog. We were living in Sheridan, Wyoming. Before Andy was born, when we lived in Tucson, Arizona, we had a pooch that died as a result of Valley Fever, common in that part of the country. Despite the fact that we had two cats, my parents were now ready for another dog, and Andy and I liked the idea.

Mother found an advertisement in the newspaper announcing Irish setter puppies for sale. She called the woman who placed the ad and arranged for us to visit her and see the puppies.

The little dogs were in a box, and all except one were scratching and whining. The silent pooch sat in a corner, aloof. Mother said, “Oh, let’s see this little guy.”

She lifted him out of the box, and despite my limited vision, I could tell he had the sweetest face. He was red with floppy ears, which I immediately stroked and scratched, and he didn’t seem to mind.

“Let’s take him,” I said. The rest of the family agreed, and a week later, he was ours.

We debated what to call him. Dad, liking all things Irish, suggested Shem, the Irish name for Jim. Andy liked the name Clancy. Mother and I didn’t have a preference. We settled on Shem Shenanigan Clancy Leroy. Leroy was my grandfather’s name, and in Irish, it means king.

When we brought Clancy home, he was full of mischief and ruled his kingdom. When he wasn’t napping, he was running and playing with Andy inside the house and out, chewing on anything he could find, and antagonizing the cats. He eventually came to an understanding with our feline companions. Although they were never friends, they were civil toward one another.

In the summer, Mother enrolled Clancy in an obedience class for puppies. For Clancy, this was play time. At home alone, Mother was able to teach him to come, sit, and stay, but around the other dogs in the class, it was as if she hadn’t even tried to train him.

Andy tried training him with the girl next door, but that didn’t work, either. I suppose we could have hired a trainer like some of the authors in the Chicken Soup book did for their unruly dogs, but in the 1970’s, that wasn’t something to be considered.

Andy hoped that he and Clancy would be like Timmy and Lassie, but Clancy eventually became Dad’s dog, accompanying our father everywhere, even to the shop where he sold and serviced coin-operated machines. Clancy enjoyed riding in the back of Dad’s pick-up or in the station wagon with his head stuck out the window, eating air. This was before seat belt laws were enacted.

If Dad couldn’t take Clancy, he’d say, “not you.” With sad eyes, the dog would watch, as his master strode out the door. In Dad’s absence, Clancy would often follow Mother around, thinking she was responsible for Dad’s disappearance and that if he stayed by her side, she would magically make Dad appear.

Since the high school I attended wasn’t far from our home, Dad and Clancy often walked me there, through a park and up a hill. This was in the days before leash laws became more stringent, and Clancy ran free through the park, playing in a nearby creek while we walked. During the winter months, Dad drove me to school. At the top of the hill, where there wasn’t much traffic, he stopped and opened the rear passenger door, and Clancy jumped out and ran alongside the car the rest of the way.

Like any dog, Clancy enjoyed rolling in fish heads, cow pies, and anything else that stank. Andy tried hosing him off, but naturally, because the water was too cold, Clancy didn’t like that at all. Dad gave him a shower, which was a disaster, with water everywhere in the bathroom and Mother pissed. In those days, there was no such thing as a do-it-yourself dog wash, which is similar to a car wash and mentioned in the Chicken Soup book.

Despite his antics, Clancy was a lovable addition to our family for eleven years. He died suddenly in the summer of 1988, one of the hottest on record. By that time, my parents were separated, and Dad lived in a house halfway across town. I’d just completed a music therapy internship in Fargo, North Dakota, and was staying with Mother in our family home. Andy had graduated from high school two years earlier and was off somewhere for the summer.

One hot night, Dad let Clancy out so he could do his business, and the dog wandered off. He was found dead the next day by the creek near Grandma’s house. Here’s what I think happened.

Since Dad didn’t have air conditioning, Clancy was hot and wanted to get somewhere cooler. In gest, Dad always called him a dummy, but that dog had some smarts. For years, he’d been driven, along with the rest of the family, to Grandma’s house, which was air conditioned. He knew it was cooler, and he knew how to get there.

Unfortunately, Grandma was hard of hearing by that time. Upstairs in her bedroom, perhaps with the television on full blast, she didn’t hear Clancy scratching at either the front or back doors. When he couldn’t get into Grandma’s house, Clancy knew the next coolest place was the creek, so he went there. He no doubt passed as a result of heat stroke.

Dad said Clancy could have lived longer. Several years later after he moved to another house and acquired a second Irish setter, he bought a window air conditioner. That’s another story.


Why don’t you tell me about a pet you had when you were growing up? If you have a blog, you can post your story there and a link to it in the comment field here. If not, you can just share your memories. I look forward to hearing from you.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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