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Dorthea and the Dog Catcher

Milestones Vol 29. No. 2

by Irene Kelbaugh Rowan


It was requested that I write the story of my mother Dorothea Holsinger Kelbaugh, (1913 - 2001), and her dispute with the dog catcher.

Anyone that knew Dorothea, knows she spoke her mind freely and was a person of action.

As some remember of times past, dog catchers caught dogs and were paid $3 for each pair of ears. We lived on Jackson Street, Rochester, and had a weekly visitor on our street to find dogs for his payday. He would put the dogs in the back of his truck and speed off.

He made a mistake when he picked the two Kelbaugh dogs off the porch and Dorothea caught him!

It was about 1947. I was about 10 or 11 years old, and my brother, Karl (Bub) was 5 or 6 years old. He called to me to come quick, "Mom was in trouble"!

Dorothea had the dog catcher by the collar pinned up against the truck, occasionally banging him against the door to emphasize whatever she was saying to him!

He kept reaching for a gun that was on his belt. Her loud comment was "she didn't care if he did have a gun strapped to his big fat "belly." (Not exact words)

I was, to say the least, horrified at the whole incident! I have never forgotten it

The stand-off lasted quite awhile. Neither side was giving up! He was not going to give back the dogs and she was not going to let loose of his neck!

Slowly, and very quietly, about five or six neighborhood ladies came out of their houses with their "weapons of choice" and surrounded the truck. Martha Washington, with a huge iron frying pan, very old Mrs. Speerhas, in her long German style old fashioned dress, Mrs. Sanderbeck, a rake. There was a shovel and a few brooms in their arsenal.

I don't remember who the other ladies were, but they were there in force. Not a word was spoken, but the dog catcher got the message!

Needless to say, the dog catcher gave up and released the dogs, and fled for his life, never to return to the neighborhood.

I can remember only some of the cast of characters in this saga, but the neighborhood ladies did come to my mother's rescue, or most likely the rescue of the dog catcher.