Just Going Out

My cousin Renny and I were raised in Minneapolis by my mother’s brother and, occasionally, women hired to help around the house: boarders or (we supposed) Uncle Roy’s lady friends, our favorite female anything being Gladys the dog. Shortly before we arrived, Roy found Gladys panting at the door and took her in to give her a drink of water. She waited politely in the kitchen (he always began the story at this point) as he looked for a suitable bowl. Then he called the police, who told him to call the Animal Rescue League and have the dog taken to the pound. Instead, he asked around the neighborhood, ran an ad, then checked out many books about dog ownership from the library. Gladys became an early subject of my cousin’s photographs, wearing various headdresses Renny made. Except that she was a mongrel and ducked her head in an embarrassed way, Renny’s photographs were reminiscent of William Wegman’s Weimaraners. In spite of the difficulty he must have experienced, suddenly having a twelve-year-old girl and a fifteen-year-old boy to raise, Roy gave a fair share of his attention to Gladys (who made it clear, when she dragged certain things from one woman’s room, that the boarder wasn’t the old maid she presented herself as being).

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