11/4/2014 7:17:41 AM

When I was six, we got a black Cocker Spaniel puppy, so small she fit in a shoebox. Uncle Buzzie may have gotten her for us. It’s something he would have done, and he was there the night she came home.

I remember spreading newspaper on the kitchen floor, then removing one paper each day as the puppy was trained, until finally she was housebroken.

Every week Brad and I sat on the living room floor and listened to a radio show called “Big Jon and Sparkie.” This was before the advent of television. It didn’t involve a dog, but it was a cool name,
so I called our puppy Sparky. (Different spelling.)

For all of our childhoods, she was the ideal pet: quiet, obedient, and friendly. I’m sure there were problems. Her ears were often infected, as Cockers’ are.

We took her everywhere; she loved riding in the car with her head out the window. I have fond memories of picnics with her and Mother at Echo Lake, at 10,600 feet above sea level near Mount Evans in the Colorado Rockies.

By the time I was a senior in high school, Sparky was old and heavy. Her hair was grayed, and because of hip problems, she had difficulty walking, especially up and down stairs. One day she disappeared, and was gone for about a week. We were worried sick, of course.

A stranger returned her, and said he’d found her abandoned in the country. Apparently, a neighbor had taken her there to die. That was a sad day, and we realized it was time to say goodbye. I took Sparky to the vet and had her put to sleep, ending an eleven-year friendship and love affair.

Ruth Frank with Sparky at Echo Lake – ca. 1950

Children’s Radio, 1950-1958

Hi! Hey! Hello there!  That was the beginning to the Big Jon and Sparkie, a daily 15 minute children’s show featuring Jon Arthur (Big Jon) and Sparkie, “an elf from the land of make-believe, who wanted more than anything to be a real boy.” In addition to the daily show, they also had a two-hour show on Saturday mornings called No School Today.