Romeo Rolls Over
by Mary Lou Kitsen
for the American Dachshund, September, 1969
Romeo was Carolyn's eighth grade graduation gift.
Until that day we had always been a cat family. That is, we always owned at least one cat. But Carolyn, who just happens to be our daughter, was forever talking about a dog.
Dog, she pointed out, was man's best friend. Just everyone she knew had a some kind of a dog in the family. When she announced one evening at dinner that even her father's employer had a dog, we threw in the towel. Against the better judgment of her father and me (to say nothing of the opinion of Sulkey, the cat), we purchased Romeo, a friendly little Dachshund.
At first, everyone except Carolyn eyed Romeo with some distrust. I was the first to be won over. He would lie at my feet, roll over and look at me with such adoration! Well, what could I do?
Next her father (Carolyn's, not Romeo's) became a member of the Romeo Fan Club. This occurred when his boss came to dinner and spent the evening fussing with Romeo and congratulating us on our choice of a pal for Carolyn.
Then on a cold winter's night we came home from the movies to discover Romeo and Sulkey both soundly asleep, their legs intertwined. The last family member had been won over!
The next eight years went by swiftly. Romeo had many friends, and he seemed to like everyone! - until Fred came to Centerville.
Fred was from the Midwest, and he had a delightful way of speaking. He was twenty-five, a graduate of an ivy-covered college, and he had come to town to assist an uncle who was opening a small industrial firm in our town. Fred, so he told us regularly, was a financial brain. He was going to be, he also noted, a millionaire before he was thirty-five. Carolyn found him perfect (one hundred per cent so), and she dated Fred night after night. Carolyn's father was impressed, even though he disliked the young man's manner. I thought he was handsome, even though I wished he were personally less aware of that fact.
Romeo hated the very floor Fred walked on. Every time Fred came to pick up Carolyn, Romeo barked at him. As soon as the young people left, Romeo would start to pace the floor. And he would continue pacing until Carolyn was safely home again.
This went on for seven long months. Then Carolyn announced one night that she and Fred were going to be married. Somehow, neither her father nor I could feel really happy about the idea. And, as for Romeo, as the wedding plans progressed, he seemed more and more aware of what was happening and became a totally bad-natured dog. Carolyn even reached a point where she wished we had never gotten Romeo for her!
Just a week before the wedding (invitations long accepted, showers gone by, and the more glamorous of gowns purchased), Fred got cold feet. He left Carolyn a note saying he was just not ready for marriage and that he was off for a trip to Europe.
Need I tell you what life with Carolyn was like for the next few months? But, at least, Romeo's old good nature returned.
Then last night we all, including Romeo, went to a picnic sponsored by a local organization that Carolyn's father belongs to. A new family in town sat at the next table. Mr. Peterson has been an Army career man, is now out of the service, and has purchased a garage from a retiring gentleman. Mrs. Peterson is a friendly little woman. There are two pretty daughters, the older one her dad's bookkeeper. And there is a son, twenty-four, blond, blue-eyed, and planning to assist his dad.
Romeo went to the Peterson table and looked intently at the family. He went closer to the son and sniffed a couple of times. He then returned to our table and, to our amazement, picked up the sweater Carolyn had brought with her and carried it over to the young man. He placed it on a little radio that one of the daughters had placed between herself and her brother. Then Romeo sat and waited, looking intently at the young man. The young man picked up the sweater and returned it to Carolyn.
"Hi," said Carolyn.
"Hi," said the Peterson boy.
And Romeo rolled over on his back.