“Nanna” and “Tanda”

Anna and Candy were our two dogs when I was a kid. If you were my mother, they were named “Nanna” and “Tanda”, which was my mother’s baby-talk pronunciation of Anna and Candy. They were medium size dogs, about 35 pounds, short-haired mix breeds. The vet thought they had a lot of Fox Terrier in them.

Anna came first. She showed up as a stray around 1951. My dad tried his best to run her off, but she always came back (probably because my mother was feeding her behind his back). Eventually, Anna became “our” dog, and she was pregnant—naturally.

Anna had five puppies in the closet that housed the hot water heater. It was warm in there and she needed it because it was late winter when she dropped her litter. MB managed to give away all five puppies, but my mother managed to get one back. Instead of black and white markings like her mother, this pup was rust and white and marked almost identical down to the thumb-sized spot in the middle of the white blaze on the forehead. My mother named the pup Candy (or Tanda, if you prefer).

Anna and Candy were not supposed to ever get in the bed, but they did and moved in with my mother and dad. Consider that back then, there were no Queen or King-sized beds; at least we didn’t have one. My parents slept in a double with the two dogs.

They were excellent guard dogs and protected their territory with ferocious-sounding barking. Our yard was fenced on all sides but one. My dad’s patients parked along Sixth Street or in front of the office on Williams Street. To this day, I am not sure how he even had any patients. If they parked on Sixth Street, and Anna and Candy were out, they had to “run the gauntlet” past the two dogs barking and sounding for all the world like they would take an arm off if not for the fence. It was so bad that Janis, my future bride, would cross the street when she had to pass my house to visit her friend on Williams Street.

Anna and Candy lived a long time, and where we went they went, and that included our vacations whether to our house in Waveland, Mississippi or a brief trip to Panama City, Florida, and these dogs loved the water.

We had a summer ritual of spending two weeks at our house in Waveland, which was my dad’s vacation. That, of course, included the dogs. We usually managed to go “floundering” at least once. That means we attempted to catch some unsuspecting flounders sleeping in the shallows at night, which was mostly not very likely. That was because we had the two dogs with us.

We would have our “trusty” Coleman lantern that MB would always have to install new wicks in and spent the greater part of the afternoon getting it to work properly. We had homemade flounder spears, which were old broom handles with a sharpened nail stuck in the end. Being a boy, I always went for the “harpoon,” leaving the nets to my two younger sisters. MB carried the lantern. My mother attempted to manage the dogs, unsuccessfully, of course.

So, there we are wading around in the dark in knee-deep water looking for flounders. In all the summers we did this, we never-ever went home with a flounder. I am thinking it might be because Anna and Candy were busy loping and splashing around ahead of us in complete abandon to our “serious” attempts to harpoon a flounder! No self-respecting flounder would hang around after such advance warning.

The dogs also went with us when we went swimming. MB always had a boat and never missed a chance to use it, even if it was just to run out of the mouth of Bayou Caddy, hook a right and drop anchor off the beach there that was not accessible unless you had a boat.

In the late fifties and sixties, it was a twenty-footer he had custom built by an old man up near Hanson City. He named it the Marjelou a combination name made from the names of my two sisters (Martia and Jeanne) and my mother, Neva Lou. (Boys don’t get their names on boats.) It was open with only a windscreen and a small deck forward, MB’s ideal fishing configuration. Aft he had two mismatched outboards, an Evinrude and a Johnson. (MB was frugal; he already owned one and picked up the other dirt cheap; why buy new just to have a matching set?)

On either side of the transom were two small decks about two feet square. Those were where Anna and Candy rode. Most of the time they managed to stay up there, but sometimes while underway, we would lose one or more dogs. No one ever actually saw them when they went overboard, so we were never sure if they fell off or they just abandoned ship to frolic in the water. It would be just like them to do the latter. Either way, we had to turn back and search for the missing dog(s). We always found them blissfully swimming along.

Like most dogs, Anna and Candy loved to hang out the car window and do the “wind-in-the-face” thing all dogs seem to get off on. Back then we had no AC in the car, so the windows were always down. One day while returning from Bay St. Louis along the beach road, Anna was hanging out the waterside of the car and must have had a notion to go swimming? She jumped out the window. We were doing about twenty, and she hit the concrete and rolled down the street. We stopped, called her and she ran and jumped in the car, none the worse for wear.

They were good dogs–unless you ask my wife.

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