A Lewis Grizzard classic: My dog, Catfish, chasing stardom


AJC columnist Lewis Grizzard would have been 75 years old on Oct. 20, 2021.

Lewis Grizzard was thoroughly Southern, and, to many, he gave voice to the region through changing times. Born at Fort Benning on Oct. 20, 1946, Grizzard would, after graduating from the University of Georgia, become sports editor for the Atlanta Journal. After an unhappy stint at the Chicago Sun-Times in the mid-1970s, he would return to Atlanta and spend more than 15 years writing a column for the Atlanta Constitution. A congenital heart defect finally resisted one final effort to repair it on March 20, 1994. Had he survived his troublesome heart, Grizzard would have been 75 years old on Oct. 20, 2021. This column originally ran on Sept. 22, 1989.

A great number of you have been kind enough to ask how my dog, Catfish, the black Lab, fared as the guest of honor at the recent First Annual Catfish Festival in Scottsboro, Alabama.

For those who might not have read earlier, Catfish’s Aunt Louise drove him over to Scottsboro Saturday for the festivities, which was Catfish’s first public appearance.

When Aunt Louise returned with him Saturday evening, she couldn’t wait to tell me.

“Your dog was wonderful,” she said.

“He didn’t embarrass me or the corporation?” I asked.

“Not in the least,” she said.

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You never know about a rookie at his first gig. He could have become nervous and bitten someone, committed an indiscretion during the parade or chased the 4:15 Greyhound from Birmingham.

“He was a perfect gentleman,” said Aunt Louise.

“He let all the children pet him, he sat on command and never whined or barked once.”

“Did the people seem to like him?” I asked.

“They loved him. He got to ride in a police car with the siren on, he appeared on two television stations and they gave me a key to the city with his name on it.”

This could be the start of an entire new career for Catfish.

Previously, by trade, he’s been a shoe chewer, door scratcher and a squirrel chaser.

He grew out of his shoe chewing and now has his own door through which he comes and goes as he pleases.

AJC columnist Lewis Grizzard.
AJC columnist Lewis Grizzard.

No Future in Squirrel Chasing

He has remained ever vigilant on squirrel patrol, however. Every day of his life, he chases squirrels.

He’s never come close to catching one because they all run up trees, but doggedly, if you will, he continues his efforts.

But where might his new public career take him?

To other such festivals, of course. Also, to shopping center openings, used car sales-o-ramas, Moose Club barbecues, and perhaps even to a hog-calling contest or at least a rat killing.

After that, perhaps he could catch on with a beer company like those other dogs, or appear in a dog food commercial.

(On second thought, I hate dog food commercials. We all know the dogs are starved when they finally get a bowl of dog food put in front of them, and how does Ed McMahon know Alpo tastes all that good? Has he ever eaten any of it?)

Beating Down Doghouse Door

At the moment I’m also talking to Carson and Letterman. Earl Carson and Marvin Letterman, two guys who want Catfish to appear at the annual Red Bug Roundup in Itchlikehell, West Virginia.

I’m also negotiating with a man who wants Catfish to become the national spokesdog for Sooper Dooper Doggie Scooper. A product dog owners especially need, lest our sidewalks become unwalkable.

I do intend, however, to bring Catfish along slowly. Too much too soon is a dangerous thing. That’s why I told him he could keep the cigar he came home smoking last night.

“But that gold chain,” I said, “has got to go.”

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