A Dog With A Nicotine Addiction

When I was a pup growing up in Henderson, Nevada my step-father was a cab driver. Henderson in the mid-1940s was a small town a few miles from Las Vegas. Henderson existed solely because of the Basic Magnesium Plant which had been a vital part of the WWII industrial effort. As I recall, Henderson had one small casino and a couple of bars. If someone wanted to party or do some serious gambling, they had to go into Vegas and the easiest way to do that was by cab. Cabs made fairly regular trips back and forth between Henderson and Las Vegas – it was a twenty more or less mile trip each way, so the cabbies did pretty well.

There was a stray dog that lived in the downtown area of Henderson. He had a collar, but no one claimed him as their own. He knew and was known by all of the cabbies and most of the folks that worked around the downtown area. The cafe fed him scraps, I suppose – I never wondered about that as a kid, apparently. The dog had a habit. The dog was addicted to nicotine. I have no idea how or why only that it was apparently so. His addiction was supported by chewing a bag of Bull Durham tobacco. A bag of Bull Durham was tied to his collar so that he could get at it as needed. Someone among the cabbies would keep an eye on his tobacco bag and when it was pretty well chewed to pieces, they would get him a new one and tie it to his collar.

Chewing tobacco was not the dog’s only noteworthy activity. Every once in a while – probably every few days – the dog would hop into a cab that was headed for Vegas. When the cab got into downtown Vegas, the dog would hop out and go about whatever his doggy business was. Apparently, the Vegas cabbies and others that spent time downtown also knew about the dog and they would see that he got fed and his Bull Durham bag was kept fresh. After a day or two – maybe three – the dog would hop into a cab headed back to Henderson. I suppose that he recognized the Henderson cabbies so he knew what cabs to hitch a ride in.

I know this sounds like a fabrication, but to the best of my memory, it is a true story. Several years later, when we lived in Las Vegas itself, the dog would still periodically show up in the casino area of downtown. He still had his Bull Durham bag hanging on his collar.

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