With squatters on the East and squatters on the West, old Pilgrims north in Leeswood seem like old natives in this vastly different and rapidly changing world here at Rustica. The pup, Frisco, is doing fine, a little hardheaded, but a good dog. The feathery bantams, peafowl and Canada’s offer no playmates for this puppy that’s been here only six months.
Whenever we can, we ride north to the trio of dogs at Will’s near Berkley. Isaac, Jake and Brooke romp and stomp with Frisco till the oldest of the quartet, Brooke, a 12 year old golden retriever, quits and heads inside the house. Isaac is next to drop out, no one will toss the ball, and he is sick and tired of Frisco’s persistence. Jake is stuck with Frisco who won’t stop dancing and the band has gone home.
Will’s fire warms chilled feet as we shoot the breeze inside while Jake and Frisco continue their rhapsody outside the garage. Jake is a mutt, just like Frisco. Funny how two purebreds are out of the game and the two from Heinz are hanging tough. Sorta canine bonding. Both are fixed so nothing bad can come of this reunion.
Jake tells Frisco of his misadventures with Will a month or so ago. Will rambled north to Airville on the premise of helping a friend harvest corn. Or was it for firewood? I’m not really sure but he had taken his three dogs and along the way Jake jumped ship and headed for parts unknown.
Ads were put in the Delta Star and posters were posted from there to here, with a reward offered. $100!! No doubt Will’s wife and in-laws weren’t really that happy with the outcome. Jake had a similar experience a couple of years ago and I found him huddled amongst school buses at Lowell Garrett’s garage on Route l next door to the big Harley-Davidson store his brother used to own.
Jake was in bad shape then, and surely Will’s family was worried that he could come back the same way again, or worse, not come back at all.
Well, Jake came back on his own this time, on the ankle express, also known as shank’s ferry. His paws were bloody but he was in good shape when he ambled into the little chapel on Smith road ten days later. This was the first time I’d seen him since the adventure and he looked great. That’s the trouble. Frisco is a traveler too, and they probably had a lot in common.
Some dogs stick around forever, even when you go inside and fall asleep forgetting they even exist. Other dogs are so antsy they have to find more things to do, once the owner’s show is over. Whatever. Frisco has followed a few cars out the lane. Folks in Hampton Ridge have called me to come fetch her. I thank them, don’t beat the dog, and just take her home with a few admonishments on the way.
It will run it’s course and hopefully she won’t get hit or cause an accident. When I can I offer companionship with my son’s dog, Koda, or by keeping Dave Hanson’s new golden retriever. Neither one can outlast Frisco. Least of all Koda who is about four years old. Hanson’s pup is younger by a couple of months than Frisco. But she’s a golden and laid back is the name of the gene pool where she swims.
Puppies are puppies and they gotta lot of energy to burn. Two hours of dogs running and playing is worth the watch. Their behavior is fascinating. Not everyone has more than one dog and most probably keeps the dog pretty much isolated. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Dogs are man’s best friends, for true, but you can’t tell me they don’t enjoy a little communion with other dogs every now and then.
Of course they gotta be cool dogs to begin with. Not dogs that would rather kill another dog than sniff it’s butt and make nice. These dogs of a fighting nature I have no use for, never will. Most dogs I run into offer a sniff of my hand when it’s extended and choose whether or not they like me or my dog.
You know who these dogs are, and so do your children, and so do the dogs. When you’ve got the combination of dogs, kids, happy folks and a good day, you have the best of it for however long you can take it.
It’s chilly, the wood stove crackles less belligerently as Will tosses on more wood. The dogs come closer as we sit and down a last Bud. The end of the day with the sun going down and dusk air crisping up the back of your shirt.
Back home, just like two tired kids that I used to haul around to place’s like Will’s, and Sammy’s and Larry’s, the two pups are ready to go again. I’m not. I build a little fire in the firepit outside the tool shed. Sitting there, daydreaming as night falls flat on the Ponderosa, the dogs close in near the chair. Trying to stay warm on the cold ground in front of the fire, the first fire Dave’s golden has ever seen or heard or smelled. She’s curious, cold, getting warmer and resting comfortably. Shortly after, Frisco is down and warming my feet with her tummy and shoulders.
It’s restful, sitting here with two buddies and a fire. These are the times to forget a boxwood that was nearly uprooted by a late night archeology dig in the side yard by this pair or the rocking chair getting it’s leg chewed or the two bantams that were mauled. It’s all about what was here when the puppy came and what is here now with another presence here. It takes time to sort all of this out, quietly. That is the lesson I’m learning.
Patience was always an elusive virtue for me, shorter with humans than dogs thanks be to God. The puppy settles down after a long ride, after romping with other dogs ready for a nice, quiet ride back home to the warm fires waiting; she’s a good companion and a friend. For years and years, ever since Homer choked back a sob in his account of old Argus’s wagging his aged tail and dropping dead at Odysseus’s return, poets and orators have found the dog’s devotion a moving theme.
Now that I got that offa my chest I can get to the interview about the potato gun, which readers have reminded me is long overdue.
Todd Holden writes from his home, Rustica, and never misses a chance to get out on the grass and mix it up with his dogs, and any other critters that happen to be hanging out that day.