Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 28, 2009


Volkswagen ad stirs memories of a dog I used to know


Recent Volkswagen commercials have included pictures of an old van like the one I owned about 50 years ago. It was ten years old when I bought it for eight hundred bucks. But it was all I could afford and it served our family well for a few years. While the boys were growing up we ran the wheels off that old van.

We enjoyed several nice vacations in the van. It seemed to have more room than the old station wagon we had been driving. Somehow we packed our belongings, four boys, Dean’s mother, and the dog into that van for several trips to the mountains in North Carolina.

Of course we made everybody on the highway mad because we were so slow. The van had very little horse power and with our heavy load it was all we could do to crawl up those hills in north Georgia.  I had no way of explaining to angry drivers that the old buggy was doing the best it could.

The dog in those days was Frisky, Mark’s beloved Collie. Frisky was like a member of the family. We all loved him. But it was during those trips in the old van that I learned something about myself that I had not known before. I learned that I could not stand having warm dog saliva dripping down my neck.

Frisky insisted on sitting directly behind me so that his head was just above my right shoulder. There he sat for hours on end as we inched along our mountainous journeys. Oblivious to my frustration, Frisky produced warm saliva like there was no tomorrow. His fourteen-inch tongue, dripping with the warm stuff, kept my shirt collar wet. My misery was mounting.

          When I felt the saliva pooling up at my waist, ready to burst through onto my drawers, I could stand it no longer.  I yelled “Pit Stop” and everyone, including Frisky, bounded outside to take a break.

          As we loaded back up, I insisted on putting Frisky in the far back, near the luggage. I wanted to share that warm saliva. That worked for awhile. Soon, however, Frisky worked his way back up front where he felt he belonged. Once again he began doing what he could do so well – drenching my shirt with warm saliva. It was like he was saying to me, “Big Daddy, I love you, and my way of proving it is to share this good old saliva with you, and I have plenty of it to share.”

          That day, driving through those mountains, I decided that enough was enough. I never wanted warm dog saliva to dribble down my neck again. If I had to tie that dog to a suitcase in the back seat, or wrap his mouth shut with duct tape, then I would do it. Something had to give.

          For the next few years I managed to dodge Frisky’s saliva, even though it was a daily challenge. I could see it in that dog’s eyes; every time he came up to me, I could tell he wanted to wet me good with his saliva. It was his way of showing affection.

When Frisky died, we were all saddened. We truly missed that beautiful dog with the long, wet tongue. Our family has missed those vacations we share in that old Volkswagen bus.  But it was Frisky who helped me make a decision I have never regretted. I resolved never to own another dog that was big enough to stick his wet tongue above my right shoulder while we were riding in a car. Our next dog was a Dachshund.  + + +