“By George!”

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George was the last family dog of my childhood. He was the son of the cocker spaniel Cinder and the Labrador interloper. He was all black with a round spot of white on this chest. George was the all-time best family dog. He was most attached to the youngest of us four children, since she spent several years at home with him while we were at school.

George was famous around the neighborhood, ranging freely over great distances, including regularly crossing the busy highway between our home and our elementary school. George was not happy when all four of us were in school, and he would travel up to the kindergarten door and wait for my littlest sister. He was not the only dog who wound up at the school, but sometimes my mother would get a call to come get him.

George’s one bad habit was chasing cars. It started with just chasing school buses. He seemed to believe that the buses were taking us away from him and it was his job to get us back. But he branched out to cars after a while. He was ruthless about his pursuit of cars, and nothing we could do would rein him in. One terrible afternoon, he got hit by one. My mother and I put him on a blanket, dragged him to the car and took him to the vet. Despite looking near death, George rallied and returned home in a couple of days.

When I found this picture yesterday, I realized how closely George resembled the Australian Shepherds we have owned over the last twenty years. Same coat, same height, same weight. I knew they seemed right the first time I saw one. Now I know it was because they reminded me of George. He was a good dog.

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