Piano Playing Pup

Nick at about 11 with FifiMy Aunt Alice was the eldest of my grandmother Martin’s children.  She married young and had at least a couple of children older than my mother who was grandma’s youngest child.   In their young days, Aunt Alice, Mother, and several of the other girls in that family were redheads with all the stereotypical redheadedness.  Along with having firey tempers, they were inventive and loved to laugh.

In the 1960s, Aunt Alice lived in Trinidad, CA, next to Katie’s Smokehouse.  She owned a Victorian house overlooking the harbor and had a small short-hair terrier named Flynn.  My aunt loved to bang out hymns and other religious music on her piano, or frantically squeeze the tunes out of her antique pump organ.  On our every visit, it was mandatory we have a sing-along.

Aunt Alice was probably the best cook I have ever known.  She baked nearly every day.  However, her famous baked goods never appeared before guests until after the singing was over.  Eager to please her, and, of course, impatient to receive our tasty treat, we caterwauled hymns at the tops of our lungs as she enthusiastically banged or huffed, puffed and pumped away.  There were so many of us in those days, we made quite a racket.

After her husband, Red, died, Alice was alone quite a lot and taught Flynn to stand on his hind legs on the piano stool, play the piano and sing.   He didn’t like it much, but just as we were, he was obedient and knew he would get a generous treat after the ordeal was over.

When my aunt commanded Flynn to play, he would jump up on the stool, hit keys with one front paw, then the other, and howl up a storm.  He knew she thought the trick was funny and between howls toward the ceiling, he hung his head in agony.  If any of us laughed out loud, which we couldn’t help doing, Flynn would jump off the stool and try to bite whoever laughed.  More than one pair of my jeans had dog-tooth holes at shin height.

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