Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
In the late 1930s and early ‘40s, Marysville had a dog warden who drove a red pickup truck. In the back of the truck were a couple of heavy wire cages. If someone complained about a stray dog that was causing mischief in the neighborhood, the dog warden would catch the dog and put it in one of those cages.
There were other times, when he might just be driving down the street and see a stray dog with no dog license on its collar. Then he would stop and give the dog the same treatment.
I once saw him catch a dog like that. When I got home, I asked my grandmother what they would do with that dog. She told me the dog warden would put it in Marysville’s “dog jail.”
Now, fast-forward a bit. I had a friend named Bill Porter. I have written about him previously, about his special relationship with animals – not just dogs and cats, but wild animals, birds, rabbits, squirrels and even snakes.
One day, Bill and I rode our bicycles to the fairgrounds. He wanted to show me some baby pigeons in a few nests, near the top of the grandstand. As we were looking at those baby pigeons, we saw the dog warden’s red pick up truck pull up to one of the buildings north of the grandstand. He unloaded a dog from the back of his truck, and took it inside. A few minutes later, he exited the building and drove away.
Bill and I were quick to leave the grandstand and go directly to the building where he took the dog. When we stepped inside, we saw several of those cages, and there was a dog in each one. Boy, were those dogs glad to see us. We could reach through the cage wall and pet them, and they really liked that.
As we rode home on our bicycles, we decided to visit those dogs again the next day. And when we went there the following afternoon, Bill took along a pocketful of dog food. Those dogs loved it.
We were hooked. On our way home, we decided to visit those dogs again the following day, and we did just that. Bill, once again had a pocket full of dog food. I didn’t have a dog at that time, so I had no dog food. But I wanted to feed them also, so I took a hot dog from our refrigerator, wrapped it in wax paper and stuck it in my pocket before we got on our bikes and headed toward the fairgrounds.
Shortly after entering the west gate of the fairgrounds, we saw two big kids (I think they were high school boys) run from that building where we had seen the dogs. They took off on their bicycles, with two or three of the dogs running behind them.
When we entered the building, the dogs were gone. The cage doors had been pried open. Those two boys had broken into the cages and released the dogs. I knew that was a bad thing to do, but somehow, deep Inside, I was glad they did it. I mean, those were really nice dogs.
As Bill and I were looking at the empty cages, the dog warden walked through the door. He saw the empty cages, with their broken doors, and I think he thought we had done it … at least until we told him what had happened. Then he got back in his truck and quickly left.
Bill and I sat in the grass and talked for a while. As we talked, I pulled the hotdog out of my pocket and unwrapped it. I couldn’t feed it to those dogs, so Bill and I ate it. Then we walked back over to the grandstand so we could take one more look at those baby pigeons.
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