September 27, 2023

Letter to the Editor: My first pet

When I was about one year old, my dad was given a cute little rat terrior puppy by a friend and came in the house that evening saying to little Johnny, “Here’s your new friend.” Actually, it was the first dog for our growing family, and really meant for everyone. He was indeed our lively friend right from the start.

His name was Tiny and he grew to be about 15 inches tall and about 25 pounds. He was coal black, with dark yellow and white markings. He was indeed a “rat terrior,” who soon cleared our farm of rats and mice in short order. He could dig them out of their hiding places with his front paws going lickety-split. Wow ... what a dog.

Tiny moved with us to our small 40-acre farm two miles west of Prairie City on March 1, 1946, as Dad decided to exit from the farming business, having also worked at the Army Ordnance Plant at Ankeny for several years. Tiny was accompanied by another small puppy who we named “Brownie” which fit him perfectly. Both dogs joined us dally as we walked to our 1-room country school about two miles away.

The Plant closed down shortly after World War II. At peak employment, making 30 and 50 caliber machine gun bullets, there were 19,000 employees, working three shifts a day, 365 days a year. Starting pay was good at 75 cents per hour, when day labor was 50 cents or less. Dad then sold our farm machinery, and we moved to a small acreage two miles north of Newton in 1947. We again attended a country school ... quite an experience.

A sad day in the fall of 1946, our neighbor John Plate saw Tiny get hit and killed by a milk truck, and laying in a ditch on that dirt road near the school. We buried Tiny under a large walnut tree in the front yard, never to be forgotten.

John McNeer