One morning, my mama sent my older brother down our long steep driveway to check the mailbox. My brother came back into the house with excitement, explaining he had seen an animal in the woods. He wasn’t sure what kind of animal, but it was laying in the thick brush across from our mailbox. We all wondered if someone injured the animal. My brother went back down the driveway to check things out further. When he returned, he informed us that the animal was a dog. But he couldn’t get her to come to him.
My mama was concerned that someone had “dumped” the poor dog at the end of our driveway in hopes we would take her in. Thinking she may be sick or injured, my mama told us to stay away from her for now, for risk of being bitten. She would send Daddy down to investigate.
You are probably wondering why we didn’t rush to the poor dog, offer our help, take her to the vet if needed, etc. But this was the early 1960s, and we lived in a very rural area. This was not the first stray animal to be left at the end of our driveway. There had been several cats and dogs over the many years my parents had owned their property. It seemed people were more apt to dump animals in rural areas because it was faster and cheaper for them, and in hopes the animals would have a chance of being taken in by farmers. I know it is sad and disgusting, but that’s just what folks did back then. I still live in a rural area, and unfortunately, this practice is continues.
The next day, Mama sent my brother to check on the dog. She was still there. He again gave her something to eat and some water. She responded but did not move from the brush. The third day, my brother checked on her again. This time he came running back up the driveway. When he got to the top of the drive, he happily exclaimed, “She’s got puppies!”. Of course, my sister and I were ecstatic! PUPPIES! I had never seen or held an actual puppy. It felt like Christmas morning.
Even though my mama was concerned about this stray dog, and all the problems bringing it to our home could cause, she couldn’t deny how it made her feel. It pulled on her heart strings and she just had to see the mama and her pups. It took some coaxing, but finally, the mama dog allowed my brother to lead her up the driveway to our front yard.
The beautiful Collie mix was white with black spots. Mama immediately named her “Spot”. I don’t remember exactly how the puppies made it up the driveway, but I do remember there were a lot of them! And they all looked just like their mommy.
My favorite memory of the puppies was when I would sit in the cool, thick clover patch on the side of the hill in our front yard and my daddy would let them loose from their pen. I would call for them and they would come running to attack me with puppy kisses. I often wondered if that is what Heaven is like for a dog lover. I sure hope so.
The puppies grew fat and happy and were soon ready to be weaned from their mama. We kids understood from the beginning that the pups would eventually have to find homes. One Saturday morning, Mama told us that people would be coming by to look at the puppies. One by one a car would arrive and yet another stranger would get out. They would look at the pups, talk to daddy, take their pick of the litter, and leave. It was so sad to see each puppy go, but we knew the importance of each one having their own loving home. Spot seemed sad too. I’m sure she felt a little lost without her energetic brood.
Spot turned out to be an exceptionally sweet dog. She was a very good girl. We had the blessing of loving her for many years to come. Much to my delight, Spot even brought another litter of puppies into our lives the next Spring. Mama and Daddy were not so delighted and made sure that was the last puppy litter to adorn our yard. I remember thinking that puppies running around the yard were so much better than chickens!
⚽ A recent study indicated that dog owners are four times more likely to meet today’s physical activity guidelines. Most of them walk close to 300 minutes each week, which is 200 minutes more than those without dogs. I have seen dog owners in our neighborhood walking their pets in complete darkness, in pouring down rain, and in hazardous snow and ice. I mean to tell ya, these people are serious about their dogs getting their exercise. It is easily realized that they treat their pet as if it were a child, both in the affection it gets, and the physical care it receives. They will spend untold money on its health and pay more to get it groomed then they pay their barber or beautician. My son owned a Pomeranian named Grace and he was exactly the type of owner described above. She slept on the bed beside him and when he rolled over, she went around to the other side, always facing him. At 5am she would rouse him from his sleep, and he’d get up and take her outside to the backyard to use the bathroom.
My wife and I have refrained from getting a dog, not willing to make the commitment required based on what we see from other owners. Our reasoning is that we travel a lot and would have to find a place for the dog to stay during our travels. But, deep down, I suspect that there’s more to it than appears on the surface.
John Galsworthy, perhaps said it best about dogs, “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many of our years,”.
⚽ My wife is a serious house cleaner. I often joke about buying her a riding vacuum cleaner because she is so particular about our home being clean. The other day I came into the house from working outside and found her vacuuming underneath the refrigerator. She had removed the lower grille, and upon finishing asked me to put it back on. Bad move on her part. I inspected it, observing that a metal expander goes into a slot on each side of the fridge. I laid down on my stomach with my trusty flashlight and attempted to shove one of the expanders in its slot, it wouldn’t go so I try again, only this time I pushed harder. Yup, you guessed it, I broke the plastic rod that holds the expander in place! So, now I’m relegated to trying to repair the damage I caused. I looked in my tool drawer and whipped out a tube of “Magic Glue”, and glued the plastic rod back on its base, suspecting that it would never be strong enough. I left the grille on the garage workbench overnight and inspected it the next morning. To my surprise, it appeared to be firmly glued back in place, but I wasn’t satisfied that it would endure the shove I needed to place on it to secure the grille back on the fridge. I noticed the plastic rod had a hole down the middle of it, so out I go to my workshop (shed) and rummaged thru my screws to find one that will let me anchor everything tightly. Sure ‘nuff, I found what I needed, inserted the screw in the hole of the plastic rod, and screwed it tight. By now excitement was building up within me because I could smell success. I put a light film of Vaseline on the metal expanders to enhance their ability to slide into their assigned slot and headed for the refrigerator in the house. I grabbed a flashlight, laid down on my stomach and aligned the right side of the grille with the hole, and it slide in effortlessly. I can feel a celebration coming on, but I stayed calm and slide over to the other side and aligned the left side, giving a slight push, and it pops into the assigned hole. Flashback: My high school football team (1958 Dragons) are playing a Friday night game somewhere. The ball is snapped to our Quarterback (Benny Coxton) and he drops back and throws me a pass and I scramble into the End Zone. The excitement within that 17-year-old boy’s heart is exactly the excitement in his now 79-year-old heart when that grille snapped into place. Funny how the requirements for “excitement” changed as you age. 😊
⚽ Irish Poet, William Yeats said, “There are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met”. I think old Bill is correct, but I see very little evidence that this is how we all feel about our fellow planet dwellers. If we roll back the clock to mankind’s early existence, and follow him for a day of his life, what we would probably see is someone that spends most of his time foraging for food to feed his family. More than likely, animosity towards his neighbors did not exist because everyone was in the same dire situation. Estrangement from one’s neighbors did not exist, in my opinion, until the neighbor became more affluent. Eventually, this affected countries and caused unrest and wars. Heck, we see it in our local community when there is a big disparity in income between different sections of the same town. The people that have status think they worked for it. The people that don’t have status feel those that have it inherited it from someone and didn’t have to work for it.
What can we do to change this situation? I think we start by helping those less fortunate than we are, extending a helping hand to those in need. By being a friend. That could involve money, advice, or just listening. People are more likely to resort to bad conduct when they lose hope that things will get better. We are Christians because we believe that living a “Christian life” will get us into Heaven. That is our motivation to live a good, productive life. But if the possibility of redemption was non-existent, would we be the kind and gentle people we are today? Probably not. So, I think our job as human beings is to have no strangers in our lives, only friends. And if we treat our fellowman as a friend, not a stranger, soon, in my opinion, our world becomes a better place to live.
There’s an old country saying that goes something like this, “When a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy them by asking if there’s something you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it,”. Now that’s a nail I can hang my hat on 😊.
⚽ I enjoy playing the guitar, I have never done so publicly and never intend to. My wife seems to enjoy listening to me play, but I have not practiced since her first surgery back in October. It’s been four months and since playing the guitar is all about muscle memory, as you can imagine, my muscles have forgotten a lot. I sat down to practice the other night and my fingers were having a difficult time locating the correct position on the strings. I had to watch very closely to get a clean chord. In a lot of ways, I think life is exactly that way. Relationships suffer if ignored, health deteriorates if unattended and skills erode if you stop using them often. So, how do we ensure those things don’t happen? Well, it must be something we want to do, not something we do if we have the time. I read once that if you want to see what’s important to a person, look in their checkbook, because what’s important will have many entries. I think that is very true. I look in my checkbook and I see the names of a lot of people that I love and care about, and I see their names often. I also have quite a few entries in there that reflect my enthusiasm for all things pertaining to computers. I see that my wife and I attempt to help others thru our donations to our church and charities. What I realized as I scanned the entries in my checkbook is that giving is important to us and that we do what is necessary to help others less fortunate. We travel to places to spend time with those that cannot travel to spend time with us. In other words, the things that are important to us get our attention.
I think the hardest thing to get from someone is their attention, at least for any length of time. Often, that’s what your wife or husband wants and what your children need. Most of the time we fail to give it because we are involved in our work, but sometimes it’s because we are pursuing our own special interest. Francis Baker said, “Attention is a hard thing to get from men”. There’s likely more truth to that statement than we are willing to admit 😊.