Mr. and Mrs. Charles Tobias and their headless dog, Sergeant (Saratoga Springs, N.Y. 1844).

Author:Ratner, Austin
Position:A Scholarly and Literary Symposium

I've been asked to share my recollections of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Tobias and their headless dog, Sergeant.

I should say I knew the dog better than I knew either Mr. Tobias or his wife. I came to collect the Tobiases' milk bottles on Fridays, and my horses always excited Sergeant into a fit of barking. When he barked like that, his head sometimes fell right off. Mrs. Tobias didn't see the humor in it. A poodle is ugly enough with his head on, I suppose, and Mrs. Tobias was always very vain.

Judging from the portrait, you might think Mr. Tobias was the more vain. I personally never knew Charles Tobias to be a dandy like that, puffing out his chest and sticking his pinky in the air the way ladies do when they sip from a demitasse teacup. He did wear coattails, of course, because he worked at the bank. Quiet fellow. Kind of sullen. Terrible posture from sitting behind a desk all the time. But, oh, did he love his chowder! Kept himself clean-shaven so he could bury his face in a bowl of it without having to wash his mustache!

Mrs. Tobias never went out without washing her hair, even when she wore her bonnet. She was always so nervous about what people thought of her. She'd heard the rumors that she was a witch. If she was out with Sergeant and Sergeant's head came off, she used to stutter and drop things. The cold air off Fish Creek always filled her eyes with tears.

The portrait is in some respects accurate. When Sergeant's head was...

To continue reading