Nancy Roman

Wanna Go For A Ride?

Last week I wrote about cats and dogs, and I guess it was obvious to most people that I am a bit biased towards cats.

It’s true enough. My husband and I have had a bunch of cats over the 25 years we’ve been together. As a matter of fact, I brought home a kitten for him after we had known each other just a few months. And the bunch of cats we’ve had have often been all at one time. For one brief period, we had five kitties running around here annoying each other.

But I do like dogs.

My brother-in-law has two golden retrievers. Sophie and Stella are as sweet as dogs can be. (They are also as smelly as dogs can be – but I don’t hold that against them.) And my other brother-in-law just lost his best, most loyal friend, and I cried too when Woody died.

And my co-worker just took in a rescue dog – a happier dog you never saw. (or happier parents).

But my favorite dog of all time – and I don’t think anyone will ever beat him out – was my own dog, Sarge.

Sarge was part border collie and part… well, I believe the vet called Sarge, “part border collie, part shedder.”

I personally think he was mostly shedder. I have never seen a dog leave so much hair behind. I brushed him daily and filled a shopping bag. And filled another the following day. A friend once remarked about how shiny Sarge’s coat was – gleaming black and snow white. I said his fur was that spotless because it was always all new. He grew a new coat every week and left the old one on the kitchen floor.

Sarge could catch thirty popcorn in a row. He wished it were 300, but the rest of the family needed some too.

He couldn’t tolerate any fighting in the house. And he wouldn’t let anyone touch me. As I was a teenager at the time, I did not necessarily appreciate his vigilance. But my Dad did. “Good Boy,” Dad said as Sarge growled at the boy who put his hand on my knee.

But that doesn’t mean Sarge was mean. Or brave. He was quite a baby, and used to go hide when the doorbell rang. My father would answer the door holding Sarge by the collar, telling the salesman, “I’m not sure I can hold him,” which always scared the salesmen away. But Dad meant he couldn’t hold Sarge much longer from running upstairs and hiding under the bed.

Sarge couldn’t bear to be yelled at. If you yelled at him, he threw up. And then you had the mess to clean up, in addition to whatever you were mad at him for in the first place. So we always had to watch what we said to the dog. “He’s sensitive,” explained my mother.

He had a good sense of humor though. He liked to bump your elbow while you were drinking something. He did that a thousand times. That joke never got old. (For Sarge.)

But he was a runner. That was his worst fault. Open the door and he was G-O-N-E! Luckily, the one thing he liked more than running free was riding in the car. So when Sarge escaped, you got in the car and drove it down the road a ways. Then you stopped the car and opened the door, and called, “Wanna go for a ride in the car, Honey?” And he’d jump in. We did that dressed in our gowns the day of my sister’s wedding.

One day many years later, I was working near home and out on an errand at lunchtime. As I drove through the neighborhood, I saw Sarge. He was strolling down the street. Oh no, I thought, he’s loose again. So I pulled to the curb, and popped open the passenger side door, and said – as coaxingly as I could – “Wanna go for a ride in the car, Honey?”

And there on the sidewalk, previously unseen by me, with a very surprised facial expression, was the mailman.

Sarge – you practical joker, you!

 sarge and mailmain


  1. As a dog-lover, I will say that sarge sounds like a wonderful dog (especially for those high school years). But I really have to handle it to vets with a sense of humor like yours. We had Charlie, a Bernese Mtn Dog. When I explained how whenever Charlie got up from laying down, there was hair everywhere, the vet said “Sounds like a crime scene.” It was hilarious, especially since I was cleaning it up.


    • I actually asked the vet if there were something wrong with Sarge -he was losing so much hair. And the vet said, “No, he’s fine. That’s his breed – he’s a Shedder.”


  2. Cute story – Sarge sounds like a sweet dog.


    • He was very sweet… and he sang too. I would play the piano and my brother would play the sax, and Sarge would sing. “There is a Tavern in the the Town” – was Sarge’s favorite song.


  3. Sounds like a wonderful dog – loved the “not sure I can hold him” comment – and the “shredder” naming … hilarious!



    • I remember seeing a video where strangers came into various houses, pretending to be robbers, in order to see what dogs left home alone would do. Most of the dogs greeted the strangers with tails wagging. Some brought the intruders some toys and asked to play. Some did tricks. The moral of the piece was that it’s wonderful for your life to have a sweet gentle dog… but don’t expect him to be a guard dog as well – it’s one or the other.


  4. Christine

    Sarge was a really good dog. He got me with the “bump the arm with the drink” trick several times. He was also good at keeping guests from staying too late. He was used to Mom and Dad going up to bed a little after 11. (He would sleep outside their bedroom door at night to guard them.) When company would stay after eleven he would start to whine and whimper and generally make a pest of himself. One of our aunts said as she left that it was the first time she was thrown out by a dog.


    • I remember him asking company to leave many times.


  5. Sarge sounds like a lovely dog. I can relate to the shedding as we’ve owned a couple of that breed as well. 🙂


    • His discarded hair was amazing. I have never seen anything like it since.


  6. Lovely story, especially the ‘Don’t think can hold him’, which is something my Dad said once to an unwelcome visitor.
    Our previous dog growled from behind the gate at a Conservative candidate. Although he didn’t actually bark or show his teeth, you could heard the rumble. We told him off of course, and whispered ‘Good Boy’ in his ear when bending down to ‘grab’ his collar.


    • I would have said “Good Boy” too. Right now, one of our cats is exceptionally friendly. She just loves people and loves company. But once in a great while it’s obvious that she doesn’t care for someone. We take her advice seriously.


  7. I love your Sarge story. I’ve had several dogs in my lifetime, so I guess I can be called a “dog lover.” One of the dogs I had was a part collie, part German shepherd, so she was quite large. She was always trying to be a “lap dog.” Very sweet. They are all so sweet. Also love the part when Sarge hid under the bed when someone came to the door. I can only imagine what the mailman was thinking when you were calling Sarge to come into the car!!!


    • The mailman was quite surprised and dismayed. I explained over and over that Sarge was my dog, and it was HIM I was inviting into the car. Luckily, Sarge cooperated and jumped in the car and backed up my story. The mailman said that Sarge walked the route with him whenever he was loose (which apparently was quite often).


  8. Ha! That’s one way to pick up men.



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