related by The Disciple*
I was walking in Jasper Arkansas one day with my Saddle-Dog, Katie. A Saddle-Dog is one who accompanies a driver or rider of equines.
Watching then explore; charging up a bank after a squirrel or deer; watching them enjoying being wonderfully free to range ahead or drop behind to poke in an armadillo or chipmunk hole; actively engaged instead of with nothing to do but lollygag around a backyard prison-camp each day like the mass of dogs-they, all the while honoring you by staying with your travel – it warms the heart and makes driving a wagon or buggy or riding a horse or mule lots more fun than this could ever, ever be, alone. Their joy is your joy.
Kate was staying about 8 feed ahead on the sidewalk. Whenever she got much farther than that, a gentle one word reminder would cause her to slow until I caught up.
Katie was a pure-bred Border Collie who stuck with me 4½ great years from puppydom until someone shot her. She was my companion on 100 mile wagon trains, on trail rides; and made our solo forays through the vast Buffalo National River wilderness of Newton County (the area that was our hone); and even our distant motorized travels, absolutely wonderful. Golly, how I love her and her successors Forever!
Doggies don’t seem to remain all that long with me although I want to be with each one, Forever. Seems one of the things we’re here to learn is how to let go of whatever we love very much. Maybe it’s so we’ll realize some day that when God takes something away, He’ll supply even more and better; and to force us to trust His timing. Maybe it’s so we’ll eventually realize those we love must all become ours again someday I pray.
Someone once pointed out that love, even between animals, or an animal and a human, is Eternal and is therefore indestructible. That’s not to say that in the human range, there’s really such a thing as unconditional love, as goes one of those stupid old-wives-tales said of dogs. There’s a whole separate list of foolish sayings attaché to mules, and I can smash every one.
A dog can be made fearful and “mean,” and it doesn’t take that much to do it. But on a metaphysical plane, once genuine love has gone out from an entity, it’s planted. It’s permanent in the spiritual realm. In the carnal, it can be perturbated; but never in the spiritual.
We were headed toward Sharon K’s Café, where Katie would have to wait outside. She was a well-behaved responsive Saddle-Dog; but not a Service-Dog like my last three poodles have been. Service-Dogs would come years later; God’s timing.
One thing I’ve known 20 years. If you want to really enjoy a dog, then keep only one at a time and take him everywhere you go. Make him your constant, total friend; and bestow highest honors as he complies with your regulations, rules and statures. Fully share your food and time. They do know.
Fully retied since’95, I’ve been able to do that with the 8 dogs who’ve come and gone in my life since then. The adventures, misadventures, and travels we’ve shared would fill books, warm your heart, and make you cry with sorrow and gladness.
Across the narrow street I saw an old timer rocking on a high porch, the house having the classic look of Appalachia. The clapboard siding was painted a Christmas green; not so attractive a color for a house (at least not without yellow or orange trim) but better I guess, than the gray-brown of weathered wood. I suspect it was colored with whatever paint had come to hand, and it’s probably a good thing they didn’t run out of green before they finished. That’s the Ozarks way. “Make do, do without; or do it yourself.” It works. I’ve lived it 40 years.
The gent was watching us, so I said, “Hey!”
Tha’cher dawg? He drawled, cautiously.
“No Sir. But she tolerates me.”
He visibly chuckled.
By now we’d both stopped and were facing him across tow-lane Scenic Highway 7. Katie was 8 feet away, but came to my side and I laid my hand on her pretty head.
Seven slows traffic with steep turns on the way down the mountain, dropping you from highway speeds to 20;’ then takes a hard right through the center of town. In summer the air is perfumed with eau d’ truck-brake.
“I was walkin’ in Bradley Park one day” the old gentleman said, still rocking. “Saw this gray haired woman walkin’ her dog on a leash. Big empty park; hardly anyone present, ‘cept’n us.
“Lady? Thacher dawg? I ast ‘er
“Yes! Yes, of course he’s my dog!’ she snapped.
“Wuh. W-Well, why do you got ‘im on a rope!”
“Well, so he won’t run away, of course!’
“Lady, I tol’ ‘er: if ‘e’ll run away – then ‘e ain’cher dawg!!!”
*A disciple is a student. The Disciple uses a pseudonym in order that vast public acclaim should n’t make him even more prideful. :D (Come see us!)
Copyright 2013 Clear Concepts Press. Used with permission of the author. All rights including reprint rights reserved. This writing may only be reproduced in its entirety, punctuation and spelling complete and as-is, crediting the author, The Disciple; and only with written permission from the author.