Russ Kelly: Flika

Russ Kelly and his wife with Flika, mid 1940s

Russ Kelly and his wife with Flika, mid 1940s

Russ Kelly, at age 89: “I was a Lithographer all my working days. Camera, stripping, plate making, sales and production…I didn’t retire until I was 70 years young. Today I still play Bass Fiddle in the Mississauga Swing Band.”

During the war in 1943 while Russ was serving overseas as a radar instructor and flight testing over the Atlantic, the Kelly family back home obtained Flika, a pure bred black and white Cocker Spaniel. “As our family increased over the years, Flika could be found sitting under or near the baby buggy out on the front lawn. When the kids were growing up we could always tell whose house they were at, because the dog would be waiting out on the lawn of that house.”

“Things were different then. You could just let your dog go wander around wherever it wanted. Sometimes, though, we’d let Flika out in the evening and she wouldn’t show up till two in the morning. She used to wander around the neighbourhood. One day she was out and a chap came to our door. My wife answered. He complained that our dog was bothering his chickens. My wife told him in so many words that our dog would not touch his chickens. With that, Flika suddenly came running to the door, through the man’s legs, and into the house, chicken feathers sticking out each side of her mouth. My wife nearly fainted.

Someone suggested we’d better have her bred and she’d settle down. This we did with a champion show Cocker Spaniel by the name of ‘Bucksburn Bomber’ from Brantford, Ontaro. I had to run around after Flika’s papers before they would breed her. Flika had five pups which we gave away to our friends and we kept the runt of the litter who turned out to be the best of the bunch. Scrappy was all black with one white paw. She too was just a great companion for our four children.

Flika developed a very bad case of runny eyes and runny ears. The vet told us that if we were built that close to the ground, we’d have runny eyes too. Eventually it got so bad though, it was not advisable to have her around the children, and my wife and I talked about putting her down.”

One Saturday at noon hour Russ had to go to the office and Flika slipped out the door with him. Russ put her in the car and drove her to the pound on the Queensway. “I gave the chap there two dollars to have the six year old spaniel put down. I told me wife later that day what I’d done and she agreed it was for the best but she wasn’t very happy about it. Then on Monday morning, I was at work when my wife called me. She was down doing the washing and Flika wasn’t there and she couldn’t stand it and made me promise to go back to the pound and bring the dog home. I did not think there was much hope, but at noon I went to pound and it was open but no one seemed to be on duty. I looked in all the cages. Lo and behold, there she was, lying in a pile of straw—I don’t think she had been fed or watered in that 48 hours.”

No longer in the dog house himself, Russ took the spaniel home. “And here’s the thing: all her runny ear and eye problems disappeared! We had her for another eight years! It is unknown whether nature had taken its coarse or whether the outing had done the trick.”

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