The Charlie Bravo Story


On the way home from the funeral today, we stopped by my old home in Arnold, MO. I remember my first day of school way back around 1968, waiting on the bus at the end of this very driveway. It reminded me of the first chapter of a book I’ve been working on, “Siriusly: a Lifetime Following the Dog Star”; below is an unedited excerpt:
Chapter 1: Shep
While there have been relatively short times in my life that an actual dog was not physically present, I can scarcely remember a time that my relationship with dogs didn’t play a huge role in how I view life in general. But it had to begin somewhere, and for me, it was in Arnold, Missouri.
Much like every dog of unknown origin in current day Arkansas is labeled a pit bull and/or Labrador mix, a Missouri stray in the mid 1960’s was known as a shepherd. I have no idea why; I don’t recall even once seeing a Missouri dog of any sort actually shepherd any thing more mobile than a ham sandwich, but that’s what they were called back in those days. And as I recall, they all had pretty much the same physical characteristics: usually a happy-go-lucky disposition, approximately forty-pounds, semi-floppy ears and a waving flag of a tail, and what we used to call “ghost eyes”, those light colored patches of fur directly above a dog’s actual eyes. I would like to say that I thoroughly researched the actual purpose of these “eyes”, but I didn’t; the most that I could muster was a cursory scan of the Google before my ADD reared its ugly head.
The first guitar that ever really affected me was a white Fender Stratocaster in the hands of Ritchie Blackmore, pictured on the cover of a Deep Purple album; as a result, this was how I have always envisioned what the archetypal guitar should look like, even to this very day. The same is true of a shepherd-mix; even after all these years and all of my dogs, an image of this type of canine is what springs immediately unbidden to my mind as the blueprint for the entire species of canus ridiculous.
I tend to classify people in three groups: the first is people who don’t really like dogs, or to be a bit more charitable, who don’t even consider them at all. Then there is the second category, those who like the “idea” of dogs. This unfortunately seems to be the largest of the three groups, the kind of people who will tear up during a Sarah McLachlan commercial but then think nothing of leaving a dog confined to a pen or leash out in the back. But the “idea” of having a dog appeals to them, so they keep bringing them home as Christmas gifts, status symbols, or even as a hairy form of conscience balm.
Then there’s the third classification, “dog people”. While there are varying degrees of this classification, the most afflicted of this group are those that seem to connect on a molecular level with what dogs are really all about. These are my kind of people, and probably the majority of people reading these words; in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “we be of one blood, ye and I”.
I was too young to recall either my father or his father before him falling into one of these particular categories, but I do know that they both had shepherds, and they were both named Shep(the dogs, not my predecessors) . So when I turned six or seven years old, I too received a shepherd, and of course, he was also named Shep; originality was obviously a trait that would need some cultivation in later years.
I would love to be able to tell you of our many adventures, but I was way too young to remember much of them at all. But all I need to remember of that time is summed up in one faded black and white photograph that my mom still has pasted in a album long since falling apart at the seams. This picture contains a small boy in a black and white striped sweater, waiting at the bottom of a long driveway; the first terrifying day of school, and the bus was running late. But curled up at his feet was a dog; black on top, brown underneath with a flash of white on his chest. This was Shep, and the boy was me.
Even today, I have questions about that picture. While my family did live in a semi-rural area at the time, Richardson Road was fairly well-traveled byway between the small towns of Arnold and Imperial. So why was Shep not on a leash, especially this close to a busy gravel thoroughfare? Things were evidently different back then, with far fewer distractions and bonds much stronger than a leash constructed of mere fiber or leather holding us all together.
But some things never change; although Shep and the boy in that picture are both long gone, the bond forged back then exists to this very day. I believe the very essence of Shep is still with me always, carried forward in the physical forms of Uki, Beebe, Max, Buckwheat, Bull Taco, MacDuff, Nama…
…and of course, Charlie Bravo.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Win a Free Koozie from Charlie & Dad

Join the Charlie Bravo Family

And you’ll be entered to WIN a FREE! Charlie Bravo Koozie!

> While supplies last
> Winners will be picked at random and notified by email

> Don’t worry, we’ll pick up the shipping too!
> You’ll also be eligible for future prize drawings, coupon codes and MORE…

We hate spam, too. We won’t share your info with anyone.