Whatever Happened To Lassie?
By Joseph E Rathjen
May 15th, 2013
If you are old enough to remember the TV show “Lassie”, then this story will melt your heart, or prompt you to look at Collie dogs in a completely new way.
When I was a kid growing up in the 1960’s, there was not much to watch on TV; we had about 13 stations, and if you could get one of them to watch without any “ghosts” appearing on the screen, you were lucky. The signal reception from TV antennas in those days was so bad that the only way you could get good reception was to stand by the TV and hold the top of the TV antenna in your hand. So when your favorite TV show was about to come on, you kind of got a little anxious.
And it would happen to me every time the TV show “Lassie” would come on.
Lassie was everybody’s favorite dog, as well as mine, and there was nothing that Lassie couldn’t do. Lassie could swim for miles; fight wolves and mountain lions, chase bears up and down hills and rescue chickens and ducks from the most unimaginable circumstances. Lassie also had a caring heart; she could love and feel sorry for the poor and most destitute of loners wandering around the prairies that surrounded her home.
Lassie brought me many fond memories back then, and what I thought were a few narrow escapes that seemed like sudden death for her.
Therefore, for about 10 years when I was growing up, I faithfully watched Lassie on TV and never missed an episode – I was her most loyal fan. No one understood and loved Lassie more than I did.
Then suddenly…she disappeared!
It came without warning. That Sunday evening at about 6:55, I did what I always did before Lassie came on. I ran into the living room and got my miniature, kids’ recliner chair and set it up right in front of the TV set, then I went to the TV, positioned the TV antenna just right, quickly scurried back to my little chair, took a deep breath, and then…
Lassie never came on. I do not remember exactly what show came on because my memory quickly blocked it out, because I was totally devastated. How could they take my beloved Lassie dog away and put on another show? I remember – almost crying and in a state of panic – I turned to my father and said, “Dad, where’s Lassie?”
He just turned, looked down at me sullenly and said, “She died…her show got cancelled.”
I became horrified and hysterical. I ran into my room and did not want to be alive anymore. How could this happen? How could Lassie have died, she couldn’t, she wouldn’t dare, she was the super, wonder-dog of all time – Rin Tin Tin would never have been able to hold a candle to her.
However, she did, and I had to go on living.
The other day I was walking out of the Post Office by my home, and there in the parking lot, was a little boy with his father walking towards me with a Collie dog. The dog looked just like Lassie. As they walked by me, I stopped and turned to look at them. The dog suddenly turned around and looked back at me. My heart stopped.
At that very moment, I wanted to run over and kneel in front of that dog, hug her, kiss her and ask her, “Lassie, where did you go? Why did you leave me? Did you really die? Are you sad? Are you Happy? Do you remember me?”
“I remember you, Lassie…and I still love you.” I would have said.
The father and the son just stood there with perplexed looks on their faces, but I think the dog understood.
Yes, if I could have talked to the real Lassie, those are the things I would have asked her – and I think I know what her answers would have been.