Husky, Wilson’s Pet German Shepherd

When Wilsons lived SE of Dexter, Clabe saw an ad for a German Shepherd pup. He wrote to ask if the owner would take a revolver in trade, the one he’d used as a night watchman. The deal was made so Clabe mailed the firearm, and the pup arrived on the train.

They named it Husky for Beatty’s dog, which had accompanied Clabe from 1921-1925, when he made rounds as the Stuart nightwatchman.

A German Shepherd’s ears stand up, alert. Husky’s didn’t. Clabe wrote the seller about the ears. He suggested rubbing them. They did, but Husky’s ears always lopped over, left ear forward, right ear cocked back. They loved him anyway.

The new pet liked Leora best and minded her, probably because she was the one who fed him.

Husky flinched when he saw a gun and didn’t like to go hunting. During a thunderstorm, he’d push into the house and hide under the big round table. Leora told the kids to just leave him alone, that he’d be okay once the storm was over.

He’d follow the Wilson school bus buggy and sneak into the school. One time the teacher allowed him to lie by Delbert and Donald at their desks. Once he found Doris in first grade. He lay by her desk until recess, when Doris was mortified that he scattered sand out of the sandbox.

bus (2)
Nancy pulled the “school bus buggy” with Delbert, Doris, and Donald. Delbert left the horse in a barn, which belonged to their landlord, which was near the school.

Doris and Donald rode in a one-seat buggy with their dad two or three miles south to get a black and white rat terrier pup as a companion for Husky. Donald got to hold it on their way home. They named it Tricks. Tricks liked to hunt and was bossy. When the dogs would come upon some prey, Husky would let Tricks catch it. Even if Husky had a varmint in his mouth, Tricks growled until Husky gave it up.

Delbert with Tricks, Husky, Donald. SE of Dexter. About 1925.

Tricks died after being hit by a car. The whole family grieved, especially Doris.

Husky moved with the family to south of Dexter on Old Creamery Road in 1926, to the Peyton Acreage on the south edge of Dexter in 1927, and to the Hammond House in town in early 1929. The Great Depression has already begun for the Wilson family.

A farmer in the area discovered dog tracks when he tried to determine what was killing his sheep. I wonder if Clabe suspected Husky. One night he caught the Shepherd leaving after the family was in bed, and found the Husky’s tracks leading to the farm. He talked with Leora about having no money to pay for the dead sheep.

While the kids were at school, Clabe shot and buried their pet dog.

While the whole family grieved, according to oldest son Delbert, it was especially hard on Clabe.



    • I didn’t like the ending either. Delbert is the one who made the comment about his father, giving an insight into who the man was. Still mulling that over, but just part of the hardships even loving families went through. (Clabe was always the parent holding the baby/youngest child in photos.)

    • I should have known you’d connect to this one. There’s another Clabe with hunting dogs episode toward the end of “Leora’s Letters” that you won’t want to believe.

  1. I loved this story, Joy,,,,even with the sad ending. Our beloved farm pets (cats & dogs) were always getting hit by a car or caught in a trap or something. We have quite the pet cemetary on this farm! The pictures added so much to the story!

  2. I have to cringe at pet killing. My mother had our shepherd put down while we were at school, but she had flawed reasons. I found it difficult to forgive her. My brother shot his dog because he couldn’t control it. I’m not certain there wasn’t a better solution. But I know in those days on a farm there was no room for sentimentality when it came to animals.

    • We lived on a farm and people would dump out unwanted cats and dogs. But Husky had become a menace. Just hard on the whole family. They later get Spats as a puppy, who moves to Minburn with them, so is one of the “characters” in “Leora’s Letters.”

  3. This is so telling; reminding me of stories my aunt told me about growing up in the Depression. A dog was part of the family even more then now. Livestock was the huge factor…it’s heart rending that poor Clabe has to deal with Husky but losing livestock to someone else’s dog was a hard line when respected. So beautifully and movingly told.

    • Dave, thanks so much for this encouragement. I got busy today mapping out the Depression Era stories, all set in tiny Dexter. They didn’t have money to pay for the lost livestock either.

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