Pals in a Place and Time

Shadow Rough Collie
Shadow Rough Collie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Buffy rolled back his upper lip and grinned. It was the collie in him. He smiled when he was excited and when our car pulled into the dooryard, he was very happy.

I loved him in spite of his lack of kindness to the feral cats. He’d sadly ended the misery for a few who had gotten in his face. I luckily had never witnessed that. This was an oversight in his upbringing that I could not reverse but, as a playmate, he was the very best. He would have given his life to protect me. This I was sure of.

When my parents ended their visit with grandma and grandpa, I would be staying. Buffy and I would have many hours to ourselves.

The chores on my grandparents’ farm, waited for no one. After a very early breakfast, I was left alone to play, while the adults did the morning milking.  Sometimes, I would spend  the first hour among the cows at the new milking “parlor”, but more often, opted to play with my pal and my imagination.

It is only now, that I realize how much my company meant to Buff. Unless the cows got out and he was asked to herd them back, he was overlooked. An occasional pat on the head was the most he could hope for when I wasn’t around.

The sound of house sparrows brings me back to, the two of us , sunning ourselves on the steps. The birds would flutter in the dusty driveway to ward off mites in their feathers. Buffy would lean into me so very hard as I wrapped my arms around his neck. The smell of dust, hay chaff and grease ( from lazing around beneath farm equipment) greeted my nostrils when I buried my face in his fur. A combination that would have been repugnant had it not been the smell of my pal. I’m sure that I will be moved to tears should I find the same odor again. What a bitter sweet surprise that would be.

Then off we’d go. I’d be a master dog trainer and he was my willing pupil. I made up hand signals for him to follow.  I’d wave and he’d jump a bale of hay and follow a maze that I had created. It took many hours and a lot of sweat to manage the hay bales alone. But, I had all day and very friendly company by my side.

Sometimes we’d just sit in the grass on the hill overlooking the barn. Buffy would whine with pleasure as I rubbed his belly. We enjoyed the breeze that that spot always had. The squawk of red-winged blackbirds and the fragrance of  phlox, each bring me right back to those moments. My grandmother’s house was surrounded with phlox of every color and the “crik” below had a marsh where the red-winged blackbirds nested.

Once in awhile, I wish Buffy  could have known what it was like to be a family dog. But, It just would not have fit him somehow. He was a dog of his time.  Instead of wondering “what if ?” , I’ ll  cherish how we belonged to each other, back then, and shared a place and time, where we needed a pal.

Lucky LaValley

We had a dog when I was a kid. My parents spotted a black puppy outside of  a shop in Bennington ,Vt. . He was the runt of his litter, so they say. A Black Lab without papers. I believe they paid 25 or 35 dollars for him. I was visiting my grandparents’ farm when the rest of the family came to own him. When we were introduced, my parents thought I should name him, since I had missed the excitement of finding him. They had been looking for a Black Lab and mentioned many times how lucky they were to spot him. I liked the name Sam, but the name Lucky was mentioned as a possibility. We decided to leave his name to a flip of a coin.

“Lucky” became a neighborhood legend.

He was a black lab and something else.

His bloodline wasn’t the best.

Whatever he was, he was one of a kind

And stood out from the rest.

Played with all kids in the neighborhood

We needn’t worry ’bout dangers.

Many a times his hackles were raised

At the sight of any adult strangers.

Oh how he loved to ride in the car,

He’d hide down on the floor.

Wouldn’t come when he was called

T’was freedom he adored.

Traveled through the neighborhoods

Black pups were here and there,

Treed raccoons and dug some holes,

Adventures… had his share.

To this day, he’s thought of still.

Been thirty years and more,

He’s talked about at campfire chats

Our Lab of local lore.

Lucky LaValley

If My Pet Could Talk

Ollie is a really good boy!

“Oh Mama, I am such a lucky dog! I get to run in the forest and chase chipmunks almost every weekend and sleep under the covers next to you every night. My Dad tastes great after he eats all those evening snacks. When I lick his face, he is the most delightful combination of salty and sweet. I’ve also come to enjoy the taste of Tabasco sauce now that I have licked many of his plates clean.

A few times Aunt Donna has slept with me while you were not home. I missed you but felt safe and happy.

Those kids step on me and take my toys but I enjoy their snacks falling to the floor from time to time. It is a good trade off. You have to admit I am the REAL “quicker picker upper” when it comes to baby formula.

Thanks for bringing me in at night when we are camping. I can hear those coyotes but pretend that I can’t…don’t even want to make trouble for them from inside the camper. Those guys mean business! That’s why I never let my girl, Katherine, out of my sight. I would take them ALL on to protect her.

You don’t have to thank me for catching mice. It’s what I do. Sorry about the bunnies…all are “chippies” to me. Besides, your garden would have been picked to the bone. (excuse the pun:-)

When the kids are playing inside the fence, don’t worry. No stranger will approach as I am on guard at all times.

Most of all, thanks for all the fun car trips. I can’t wait for the flea market to open. Many friends wait to see me and those aromas are so interesting and exciting! Walking on a leash allows me to show off those manners that I have learned. I hope to set a great example on behalf of Jack Russells everywhere.

Hey, there’s my neighbor. May I go out?”

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Children of the same Mother

This I understood

A soft whisper of a purr not unlike the hum of a ceiling fan.

One gentle touch

A hand brushes my ear, soft and supple as a tongue’s underside.

She smelled warm

Just like sunshine does when it is absorbed into a line-dried towel.

Whisper’s eyes sparkled

Dark and deep, shady pools sprinkled with the diamonds called life.

Sharing a pillow

The raccoon orphan and I slept, blanketed in safety, love and trust.

Together

Children of the same Mother.

About 25 years ago, a childhood dream of mine came true. My husband brought a lost baby raccoon home from work. She had been stranded in an entrance to a dorm. Whisper and I bonded immediately. We slept together and I fed her from a baby bottle. She was finally placed with other orphaned youngsters to be returned to the wild. I will never forget her…( Rabies  was not common here, at that time. Our vet approved of the temporary arraignment. ) Not a wise situation for today.