September 02, 2003
a boy and his dog
When I was about twelve years old, Missy got pregnant. She was a semi-cocker-spaniel who belonged to Finn and Michael Moffett (of tree-jumping fame). Missy spit out seven puppies and I got the pick of the litter.
I never knew for certain who my dog's daddy was, but I always suspected Old Black Sam from just down the street. He was a night-time courter and a midnight rider and pretty much a Black Lab, with some unknowable other breeds thrown in. He had a head as big and as flat as a coffee table.
He was an outside-dog and didn't take shit from any other dog. My dog resembled him a great deal except for a white blaze on his nose and four white paws. He was jet black everywhere else. I always figued that Sam nailed Missy and produced my pup.
My dog was a fat, grunting little rat. My dad suggested that we call him "Spats" because of his white feet. But my brother and I decided on "Pudgy," because we didn't know anything about spats at the time and we had a fat pup. He was our dog for the next eight years.
I liked to take him out in the woods with me when I went to shoot my BB gun. Pudge was a natural-born bird dog and always liked to fetch my kills. He would hear me shoot, see the bird drop and go get it. Then, he would bring it back and drop it at my feet. I never had to teach him to do that.
I made a bad mistake one Saturday morning in February. I took Pudgy to the Gun Club Lake, where I used to tresspass regulary. That dumb dog took one look at all that water, let out a yelp, and in he went. The temperature was about 40 degrees that morning, but the cold water certainly didn't bother that dog. HE WAS HAPPY!!!
I kept calling for him to get out, but he was showing off his swimming skills and having a blast. That's when I saw the white pickup truck coming around the lake. That was the Caretaker of Death.
All the "NO TRESSPASSING" signs warned of fines and jail sentences, but I heard worse stories than that about The Man In The White Truck. Rumor had it that he carried a shotgun filled with birdshot (or maybe rocksalt... either way, it was a horrifying tale) and he LOVED to shoot 12 year-old boys right in the ass whenever they tresspassed on his baliwick. He'd kill your dog, too.
I looked at the truck, yelled at the dog and realized that Pudgy was NOT going to get out of the water. I couldn't run off, save myself and leave my dog to be killed.
I shucked my clothes, jumped into that cold-by-God-freeze-my-ass-off water and dragged the dog out. The truck was so close by then that I didn't have time to get dressed. I kept the wet dog under one arm, grabbed my clothes with my free hand, dropped one shoe, had to stop and pick it up, then hauled my nekkid, freezing dog-toting self off through the woods. I kept waiting for birdshot or rocksalt to hit my fleeing bare ass.
That never happened, but the blackberry vines I sprinted barefoot through damn sure took a toll on me. I was picking thorns out of my feet for two weeks after that. Plus, I almost turned blue before I could dress myself again, because I had to keep one hand on the dog's collar to keep him from running back to the lake again.
Did I say that he was a GOOD dog?
Well, he was. He was PERFECT for a young boy who loved roaming the woods, even if that dog DID make me believe that I was going to be shot right square in my nekkid ass at the Forrest City Gun Club Lake on one cold Saturday morning in February.
Kids and dogs need adventures like that.
I was in college when he died and I STILL cried for him.
All content © Rob Smith