We were at a circus. There was this cute little dog, probably a poodle, wearing a cap on his head. A man was carrying the little dog under his arm as he climbed up a tall ladder.
When they got to the top of the ladder, another person, who was holding a very large and colorful ball, was waiting for them on a little wooden platform.
They were really high up in the air. The little dog didn't seem scared or anything. In fact, he was wagging his tale like crazy.
The person holding the ball placed it down on the platform, and the little dog immediately jumped on it. He loved this game, obviously!
Then I noticed this wire going at a very steep angle from the platform all the way down to the ground. I thought, "No!" I was so scared. I thought, "Surely they weren't going to let the little dog go down that wire balanced on top of the ball. Surely they wouldn't let the dog do anything so dangerous!" I was almost afraid to look.
I watched, horrified, as the little dog -- balanced on top of the ball the whole while, his little feet skittering -- came down the wire, ever so slowly, little by little. It was clear that he was in absolute control. When he got to the bottom and hopped off, the crowd roared its approval.
That's my earliest memory. I asked my dad one time how old I was when that happened. He said I was probably about three years old.
He asked, "Do you remember a big dog chasing you off of the end of a dock?" When I said I didn't and asked him where that had happened, he told me it was at his mother's cabin on Woman Lake in Wisconsin. I asked him to tell me about it.
He said that a really big dog (probably belonging to Uncle Russell) was wanting to play with me and jump up on me and lick me and stuff like that. I kept moving away from the dog, but the dog didn't understand. Dad thought the dog probably thought that was my way of playing, that I wanted the dog to chase me. I moved out onto a long wooden dock. The dog came after. I moved farther out. The dog followed. This 'game' continued until I ran out of dock and fell into the lake. Dad dove in, fully-clothed, shoes and all, to save me.
Dad said that this happened probably a year or so after the trip to the circus. He seemed surprised that I had no memory of it whatsoever. It would have been quite traumatic, I'm sure, and would have been one that my brain would have hidden far far away. To this DAY I do not remember that incident. Just as well.
My earliest memory is a very happy one. I can still "see" the little dog coming down the high wire balanced on that big ball.