Topeka Daily Capital
Feb. 21, 1960
It all started on Monday evening. We had finished dinner and I was going back to the office. The boys reminded me I still owed them a “surprise” for a chore they had done for me. Ann told me she still was waiting for the puzzle and “peer-fume” I had promised, and Amy made her usual pitch for candy. In other words, it started as a very normal departure.
As I opened the door leading to the garage, something jumped up off the old throw rug that is there for wiping feet. It scared me a little, so I flipped on the garage light.
It was a dog. Closer inspection revealed it was a puppy – a black and tan, long-tailed duke’s mixture of dogdom that had “mutt” stamped all over his homely face, body and clumsy, oversize paws.
He didn’t make a sound. He just stood there, looking at me steadily with hopeful eyes, his tail wagging so hard he had trouble keeeping his hind feet on the floor. He was nothing but just another pup – clearly a pup whose mother was a woman of the night and whose father was a ne’er-do-well and an irresponsible man about town.
My first feeling was a touch of pity. Here was a waif, it seemed to me, who would spend a lifetime poking into garbage cans and whose only permanent address would be the dog pound. He was flotsam on the quiet beach of Cornwall Street.
I spoke to him and his eyes lighted up, and he made a sorry effort at lifting up his ears, I reached down and patted him on the head and he tried to jump up and lick my hand while his rear end did a fast rhumba.
I made a mistake then. Nobody in the house had seen him, but I thought the kids would enjoy him. Just for a minute or so, of course. I opened the screen door to let him in the house and he was so dumb he tried to crawl under it. He got tangled up in the rug, but finally he made it.
Pandemonium followed. Everybody tried to grab him and pet him, and he tried to lick everybody. They all wound up on the floor. Amy on the bottom screaming bloody murder and getting her face licked like she was a lollipop.
I made a hasty exit. I thought about the dog a little while I was gone, but I shrugged it off. He’ll be gone when I get home, I said, and he’ll find a home somewhere. I like dogs, but since I had my last one, years ago, I’ve gotten along fine just liking other people’s dogs.
When I got home Monday night, the dog was asleep ion the divan in the family room. I woke up a few people putting mu foot down, and letting it ne known he could sleep in the garage – but only until he moved on or somebody came after him.
Kids cried. My wife looked at me like I’d just thrown Amy out into the snow. If they’d taken a vote on whether me or the dog slept in the garage it would have been five to nothing.
The dog slept in the house that night. Tuesday night, when I got home from a basketball game in Kansas City, he was not only in the house – he barked and growled at me when I came in.
Wednesday night, the big news was that the dog had been named. Ann had named him ‘Manfred the Wonder Dog” and I couldn’t believe it, either, even when it was explained that this is the name of one of the stars of the Captain Kangaroo show.
I suggested Castro ort Khrushchev, and, after I heard what he had done to the carpet I suggested City Hall. The kids gave me a look that said thank Heaven everybody around here isn’t as stupid as the old man.
As this is written, it is Friday afternoon and dog still is with us and five of the six of us are calling him Manfred the Wonder Dog. It’s about as appropriate as a plow horse Man O’ War.
But even though he is homely and clumsy and a sort of a poor man’s Rin Tin Tin, I guess he is our dog – at least until he leaves or his owner, if he ever had one, comes after him. If either happens, I hope I’m not there. I’ll probably make s fool of myself.