I have started writing my biography, and this is an excerpt from the rough draft of an abusive childhood, year, 1961.
I was only seven I guess. Seven years old, and I loved him so much. He had thick white fur with a little black tuft around his neck. It kind of looked like a bandanna, you know, like they used to wear in the old cowboy movies. He wasn’t anything special… well I mean he was special to me, but I guess what I mean is that he wasn’t special like Tony Evans dog; Rocket. Rocket was a purebred. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant at the time, but Tony sure seemed to think it was great. Tony’s dad had bought Rocket for him at a real pet store in Torrance. My dog wasn’t store bought, he was just a mutt, but he needed me, and I loved him so much. He had really big soft brown eyes, so that was just what I named him… Softie. I guess that’s kind of a dumb name for a dog, but at seven years old, I thought it was just perfect.
My sister and brothers couldn’t believe it when dad let me keep Softie. I couldn’t either. Dad never let me do anything, but it had been a while since he had locked himself in the back room, and I guess he was feeling alright. “You wanna keep that bitch? Fine, but you better plan on paying for all the dog food with your own damn money.” Softie wasn’t really a bitch, he was a boy, but dad never noticed. I quickly said “Oh yes Sir! I will pay for his food dad! He’s gonna be the best dog you’ve ever seen.” “I don’t give a damn if she’s the next Lassie. You just just better not let that bitch inside, Darren!” That was his reply.
Every boy ought to have a dog. I did. Good ol’ Softie, Those were the best four days of my childhood. I loved that dog so much. I could just stare into his big brown eyes, and everything was right. Brothers bleeding, play with Softie. Sisters crying because dad took her in the back room with him again, play with Softie. Dad’s screaming again, play with Softie. That beautiful dog made my life wonderful for four days. It came to an end one terrible Sunday night. Dad told me that he had heard it was going to get really cold that night, and that I ought to make sure Softie would be ok in the shed. “Should I take him a blanket or a towel Sir?” “NO! Dammit! Why don’t you think? No boy, you need something better than that, and you’re in luck. I stopped by the store today and picked this up.” “What’s that Sir?” “What’s this?! Well it’s Anti-freeze son! What do you think? We don’t want poor Softie freezing to death now do we? Now you run give her a bowl of this, and it’ll keep her warm all night.” “ Wow! Thank you Sir!” I still remember running out to the shed with the magic drink that my dad was sharing, thinking “I knew it! Dad’s really starting to like ol’ Softie!” I knelt down, my bare knees on the cold concrete, as I poured the green liquid from the bottle. “Softie really likes this stuff” I thought to myself, as he lapped it up mid stream. That dog needed me, and I needed him, and I STILL have nightmares about what he endured for the next hour while his body shut down. His trembeling, and throwing up. He couldn’t hardly whimper as he died in my little arms; the life drained from his big brown eyes. I don’t know how long I held my dog before my dad came out to get another beer. As he flung the door open, he tripped over me and looked down putting one hand over his mouth, he started laughing so hard that Colt 45 came out his nose. “Shit son! You didn’t really give that bitch anti-freeze did you? Don’t you know that will kill dogs? You need to wise up boy!”
Dad drug me outside and tied me up behind the shed, and beat me with Softies’ leash. He kept yelling that I needed to “wise up” and that I owed him for the anti-freeze I wasted. After he let me go, I went back in the shed. Seven years old, in my Casper underwear, I stayed out there all night holding my dead dog, freezing to death. I remember wanting to drink some of that magical green drink myself. Maybe I could be warm. Maybe I could go and play with Softie forever.
Reader Reviews for
"A Boy and His Dog"
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|Reviewed by Z McClure
|Wow Daniel! First of all, let me praise the LORD for bringing YOU through such a nightmarish experience with Softie! And may the Lord bring the secret of Redemption to others through your biography, and healing to you,precious brother. My heart ached as I read this true and courageously told story. Powerful. edgy. painful read...but needful to be shared.
|Reviewed by Connie Faust
|Daniel, my friend, this so unspeakably horrible. I know you haven't planned to make anyone cry, but how can I help but cry, reading of such demonic cruelty? God bless you and give you His comforting peace every day of your life (quoting a dear friend).
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|No words of mine can do justice to what you have shared, Daniel. I can only pray and wish you love, healing, peace, and countless blessings.
|Reviewed by Joyce Bell
|THIS IS THE KIND OF NIGHTMARE ONE SEES IN MOVIES. DANIEL...GOD HAS KEPT YOU HERE FOR A GOOD PURPOSE...STAY FOCUSED AND KEEP PRAYING. THANKS FOR SHARING AND GOD BLESS YOU AND YOURS
JOYCE * HIS INSPIRATIONS
|Reviewed by Melanie Keith
|Daniel, after reading your short story about Softie I want to encourage you again, to write about your childhood. Like I said in my review/comment of your book, "The Imprisoned Mind", I've known you for 40 years. We met as teenagers, when I started going steady with your brother, Boone. (Now married 35 years). Anyway, what I want to say is PLEASE, if you are able, begin journaling your memories of growing up with your father. I've told a few close friends I've known, about what terrible and unimaginable abuse that your and your four brothers and sister endured from that man. Before I met you all I had never even known that families could have such evil under their roofs. I always tell people about the Keith family, and how all of the children grew up to be Christians, wonderful parents, and devoted spouses. Healing can and does happen when we trust the Lord, and ask him for forgiveness for our own sins, but also to be able to let go of the pain and injury from such an abusive father. Your testimony is so powerful, Daniel. I will pray that God will give you strength and encouragement if you decide to write your journal. I love you...|
|Reviewed by Annabel Sheila
|Oh my God what a tragic, heartwrenching story, Daniel. No child should ever have to endure an abusive parent. But I firmly believe we all answer for our behaviour one day! Bless you Daniel...
|Reviewed by Michael Ferris
|Very intense story. Very well written, but really intense and sad. I am truely speechless. It is horrible that people can be so cruel.|
|Reviewed by Twylla Stickler (Reader)
|WOW, i used to think that my mother was cruel in everything that she did. This just goes to show that someone else always has it worse then you do. SO be thankful for what you do have. I am really blessed to have you in my life. I would love to say that I wish none of this happened, but you would not be the amazing man you are today. I love you very much and I am so happy that you are here. You have turned out to be a wonderful husband and father. No matter what life threw at you.You have a wonderful gift. I also want to thank-you for sharing your story with the world. God Bless|
|Reviewed by Daniel Keith
|Thank you for your comment Mark. Yes it is a true story that I had blocked out of my mind, until the death of mine and my wifes dog a year ago. My dad was and is a severe alcoholic. I have not seem my dad in over 22 years. I mentioned in my book, "The Imprisoned Mind", that people use the crutch of a bad childhood as there reason for being an addict, and that is not the reason for their addiction. I have been working on my autobiography which may take several years, but it will span my abusive childhood to my life now. Again, thank you for your comment and may God Bless You.|
|Reviewed by Mark Lichterman
|Daniel, what a sad story. I can't even imagine the little boy holding his dieing Softy in his arms as the poor thing struggled to death. What a beast the father is/was. You say this is an excerpt from your
biography? This is a true story? As a true dog lover, it is my hope that your father died as poor Softy, in the throws of gut wrentching pain. Well written story. Mark Lichterman