When I was young, I delivered the Hamilton Spectator in my neighbourhood. By far and away the most memorable customer of mine was a family that lived three or four doors up the road at the end of a long, long lane.

If you turned left at the end of the lane, you ended up at the Cedarvale Horseradish Factory, but if you turned right you ended up at Burf’s house.

Burf was the archetypical wiry evil dog. All those stories that have been written about kids breaking into the local junkyard and being chased by a mangy, barky, ferocious dog were based on Burf.

Never has there been a more onomatopoeiac dog than Burf.

Delivering the paper to his house involved dismounting from my bicycle at the end of the lane, positioning the bike for optimum rentry should Burf appear. Next I had to creep, silently, along Burf’s driveway, ending up at a breezeway separating the garage from the house proper; in the breezeway was a section of furnace pipe that was the final destination for the newspaper.

The breezeway was also Burf’s favourite hiding place, so the actual paper drop-off process involved a complicated dash, shove, and run. And if Burf was around, awake, and ornery — about 10% of the time — the “run” was a mad dash back to the bicycle, and a frantic ride back to the road, with Burf running along beside threatening to jump up and devour me whole all the while.

I imagine that Burf is dead now, either due to old age (he would be in his thirties now, I presume) or because he was put down after eating subsequent paper carriers. He will not be missed.


Wayne's picture
Wayne on December 8, 2002 - 16:56 Permalink

My canine nemisis was called “Haywire”. He was a alsation/doberman mix. My buddies and I had to walk by his place several summer evenings a week on my way home from the CDP, as well as each morning on my paper route. Because he was so savage, my buddies and I (a group called the “Hanky-Panky Gang”), conspired to take down Haywire’s owner’s pup-tent in his back yard late one night, when our parents thought we were sleeping in our own backyard tent. We were far from a hardcore group, (In those days, Sherwood was not a tough neighbourhood) mostly interested in arguing about things like Rod Carew’s stats, the “Broad Street Bullies” and seldom planning more then sneaking the odd cigarette, lighting a few firecrackers in a mailbox, or a late-night walking venture into enemy territory called Parkdale, where the rival hockey, baseball and football teams resided. On this occasion we made it safely into Haywire’s backyard and surrounded the tent, when a black streak flew out the flap door. Haywire reached the end of his rope just as he had closed in close enough to reach out and touch. I was not the slowest runner, so was not in any real danger. But, I heard the comforting snap of the rope, and shut down my propulsion system, which was in afterburner. From that night on, the tent stood as the ultimate challenge to the roaming, tent dis-assembling 12 year-olds of my neighbourhood…one that was never accomplished, and as far as I know, never again attempted.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on December 9, 2002 - 15:12 Permalink

The sad part of this story is the dog owner also had two cute, blonde daughters.