My Worst Childhood Fear

My parents divorced when I was five years old. Mom, my sister and I moved to California while dad stayed in Ohio, though he eventually moved to Arizona and we moved a few times after that. But we were a bicoastal family and I ended up spending many summers with my dad. Those summers were usually pretty good, but I always dreaded returning to my mom’s house out of fear of what they had done with Buddy, our Labrador Retriever.

I had no reason to think that my mother and stepfather would have done anything to Buddy, but in my mind, it seemed that there were a multitude of threats to Buddy’s well-being and that sweet dog would be dead before I got home in mid-August.

My fear wasn’t so much that Buddy would die, but more that he would die and my parents would try to replace him with another Lab because they thought I was too stupid to notice that it wasn’t the same dog. Every August, I would look in the dog’s eyes and then into his mouth to investigate every spot and tooth to ensure that my parents weren’t covering up Buddy’s death.

In the end, I always decided the dog was the Buddy I knew and loved.

For that reason, I was amused by this story:

Ken Griggs likes his new dog, but he preferred the old one. Then again, it might be the same dog. In a possible case of mistaken identity, Griggs said the black Labrador named Callie that he left at a Dundee kennel before spring break was not the same dog he picked up a week later.


Allison Best, owner of the Tail Wag-Inn boarding kennel, said Griggs has the right dog. But Callie’s vet examined the dog Griggs brought home and found evidence that it’s not Callie.

“We know it’s not Callie,” veterinarian Andrea Frost told The Oregonian newspaper.

Griggs said he immediately noticed differences in the dog he picked up from the kennel. The family cat — normally friends with Callie — hissed at the dog. Callie would heel; this dog did not.

Griggs returned the dog to the kennel and Best examined whether Callie might have gotten mixed-up with any of the other black Labradors staying there that week.

Owners of the seven other black Labs all said they had the right dog.


Still, Best arranged for the owners and their dogs to meet March 31 for a possible exchange. The woman called saying she was late, Best said.

Meanwhile, Griggs had arrived with his family. A black Lab got excited when the Griggses approached, the kids declared it was Callie, and into the car the dog went.

It was the same dog the Griggs had just returned.


Griggs has hired a lawyer, but Best says the case is closed.

“Mr. Griggs kind of lost his credibility with me the second time he came into the kennel with his family and reclaimed the same dog,” she said. “If he can’t recognize his dog, I don’t feel I can be any help.”

Jesus Christ. It seems like my childhood neuroses had some basis in reality. I’m feeling really bad for Griggs.


6 responses to “My Worst Childhood Fear

  1. ha ha…I love your personal story…how strange it is that kids have to WORRY about being fooled by their parents; no wonder, however, with all the lies we trick our kids into believing: santa, easter bunny, etc.

  2. It is kind of amazing that they’re not sure about their own dog. It’s one thing to worry about it in theory, but faced with the dog? Labs don’t really all look alike if you know them very well.

  3. I certainly feel badly for the guy – I can’t imagine the pain of losing my dog this way – or losing my dog at all, for that matter.

    Still, I’m kind of with Zen – a lot of dogs look alike, but I think you know your own dog no matter what. But, the account of the vet I find quite compelling.

  4. What you don’t know is that I killed Dad in a freak big wheel accident and replaced him with a similar humorless workaholic. Just look into his eyes…

  5. Gonz – heh! That explains so much! I wondered what happened to that Big Wheel you had in Akron!

  6. Zen and Gob, labs may not look alike to people who pay attention to them, but, well.. We know that there are some people who are so into themselves that they can’t even recognize their own dogs.

    I call people like that “Republicans.”

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