Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

As the Tail Wags

Dad and Blacky.

The first dog we got, when we moved to the country was a black lab, boxer cross name Blacky. He was big, a bit of a big oaf and I couldn’t stay away from that dog. Despite the fact he chased cars, and rabbits, along with everything else, I just loved that dog. As I grew older, I learned why my father liked him so much as well.
Though both my mother and father were young when the second world war began, their experiences were very different. Where mom lived in a small village out in the countryside, dad grew up in the big city of Amsterdam. If it was difficult to find food in the countryside, things were far more dire in the cities. Dad was part of a large family of boys and one girl. It was up to the boys to do what they could to feed the family, and help out neighbours whenever possible, too. To this end, they would go scavenging under the cover of darkness. Curfews were ignored, in the quest to feed your loved ones. Danger was possible around every corner, yet they had an ace in the hole, the family, black lab. That black dog was their warning system. They would slink along, making their way through dark, city streets, avoiding the German patrols on the way to the countryside beyond the city limits. As they moved along, they watched the dog. If his ears perked sharply and the black neck stretched tall and alert, they would duck down and hide. When he relaxed, the coast would be clear, and they’d continue on. That black dog kept them safe on all their forays for food.
On one of their night, foraging trips, they went to a farm where the storage bins were full of grains and vegetables. At a time when the Dutch people were starving, some farmers grew their crops, to feed the German war machine. These farmers kept their possessions, lived well and had plenty to eat, producing foodstuffs, to feed the German army. Though no more than teenagers, my dad and his brothers came up with a plan. They would put fence planks under the front and back doors, and trap the rather rotund farmer in his house.
The second the farmer realized something was going on outside, he began pounding on the door and hollering at the top of his lungs. He threatened and bellowed until my dad put him straight.
“Be quiet,” he deepened his teenage voice as much as he could, “or we’ll kill you, traitor.”
The threat must’ve sounded real, as immediate silence met his words. The brothers figured they’d better insure the farmer stay in his house, “Step outside, and you’re a dead man. We have your house surrounded … we see you, that’s it.”
Contrary to what they’d threatened, all but one of the brothers, were busy filling bags with grain and potatoes. All the while, the black dog stood guard, watching for possible trouble. When the brothers had all they could manage to carry, they left, the farmer still trapped, believing there was a violent horde of thieves just waiting to do him in.
The teen who would become my father many years in the future, and my future uncles, safely made the long, dangerous trek back into the city with the help of their black dog. If that dog barked, it would’ve given them away, yet it never did. It used to quietly growl, ever so low, so deep, never more than that. Even that was easy to stop. A whispered word from any of the brothers, and the dog would become silent again. If not for that black lab, things may have been far different back then. The foraging trips after dark would’ve been far more dangerous than they already were.
I heard this story, and understood why my father smiled when he looked at Blacky, our family dog.

  1. Wow! Dogs are amazing and they understand so much intuitively. That long ago black dog may be the reason you are with us today.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB