I can’t recall if it was the spring or summer of 2007 but I was heading down Mosley Street in Wasaga Beach to Topper’s Pizza for a slice and a Coke.
Trotting towards me on the sidewalk was a large black and white dog who, upon first glance, did not appear as loveable or friendly as this pooch that Elvis Presley sang to, on network TV, nearly 60 years ago.
Was it a stray? Had it gotten loose from a nearby yard? Should I be afraid?
This canine went past, barely acknowledging me, as if on a mission.
And he was.
I came to realize this was Socks (or Boots), Wasaga’s wandering dog who, depending on what stories you believe, had an owner that died or became too ill to look after the dog, or…who knows?
Bottom line, for over a decade, Socks ran all over town. He had several homes but no owner.
WAS SOCKS A CROSSING GUARD IN A PREVIOUS LIFE
I encountered Socks many times. One afternoon, I looked out my office window to see him outside, rolling in the snow. Despite his business-like approach to a dog’s life, Socks had a playful side.
And a horny side. He is a dog.
From the sound of things, Socks has many, many offspring in Wasaga Beach. He was very friendly with his bitches.
In that photo, Socks appears to smiling and considering what I wrote in the previous sentence, he should be.
But here’s the amazing part of the story.
I often witnessed Socks running across the Schooner Town Bridge, in the centre of town (and once, with what looked to be a rat in his mouth) and he always stayed on the sidewalk.
I also saw Socks cross four lanes of traffic, looking left, stopping in the middle, and looking right before going the rest of the way.
Socks became a familiar sight for many beach residents. He was a constant presence in our lives and a comforting one at that. Resourceful. A survivor. Smart, and with more traffic sense than many humans.
Those human-like qualities prevented Socks from being rounded up by Animal Control, adopted or domesticated. You could not keep this rambling hound fenced in. He was used to roaming and it seemed almost cruel to contemplate any attempt to restrict the journeys of our town dog.
Unfortunately, having no real owner meant no one was looking after Socks in terms of his health.
In recent months, many Facebook posters (Socks has his own fan page) expressed concern over the appearance of dear old Socks. Was he limping? In pain? Sick?
Even sadder, some of his “protectors” kept well-meaning folks from taking Socks to the vet. Get off my property, let him be.
The end came December 8th, the same date Jonn Lennon was shot 35 years ago.
Socks was captured…went willingly according to some reports…taken to the vet and the prognosis was, he was in pain and putting him down was the humane thing to do.
I drive across the Schooner Town Bridge every day and feel a sense of loss, knowing that Socks will no longer be crossing the river on his way to another adventure, waiting patiently for the light to change near the Riverbend Plaza.
By the way, I had to research that last part. We used to think dogs were colour blind but recent scientific evidence says they can see some colours, so Socks knew when it was safe to cross.
On last Saturday’s show, I saluted Socks and, as a tribute, played Dion DiMucci’s 1961 hit, The Wanderer.
“I’m the type of guy who can never settle down….they call me the Wanderer, yeah the Wanderer, I roam around, around, around around.”
Farewell, Socks. You were much more than a (hound) dog.