By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
To their credit, they were unaware they were breaking any laws; they looked innocent, in fact, in their ignorance, and I almost hated to disturb them. I did, though. I said sternly, “Colt! You’re in my spot! Dozer! You too! Off the couch!”
Colt, the seventy-pound black lab, immediately put on his “I’m so ashamed of myself” countenance and obediently (but not hurriedly) got off the couch, giving me his “do I get a treat for this?” expression. Dozer, the hundred-pound Stratfordshire terrier, pretended not to hear.
“Dozer! Down!” I repeated. He opened an eye, disinterested in the proposition. “Down!” I repeated.
Dozer looked up from his prone position, yawned, thought about it a moment and extended a leg over the edge of the couch to the floor. It took a while, fifteen seconds or so, before he got the other leg to join it. He then stretched and slowly dragged his body over the cushions before finally making it to the floor. As usual, he was a little indignant about it. He gave me his condescending look, tolerant, but amazed I could be so petty. I was not interested in his assessment, however. I had the couch, now, and claimed it to work on what would turn out to be this article.
While Colt and Dozer are our largest dogs, we have others that treat us with the same benevolent tolerance. All in all, they are good dogs, but still, their morals need improving. Most of them came from “animal rescue” situations, as did the four (outdoor) cats. The four horses are the result of the kids’ rodeo years, as is the miniature mule and the goat. I blame myself, for I set the example, due to a soft spot in my head for animals. If there is any wisdom that can be hauled out here, it is only hindsight from hard-earned personal experience summed up in the advice, if you instill a love for animals in your children, do it after they are at least thirty-five years old and have moved away from home.
We have never—NEVER—financially profited from our menagerie. Rin-Tin-Tin, in the silent movie era, kept Warner Brothers going with profits from his movies when they would have otherwise gone under. Then there is Lassie, Mr. Ed, Cheetah, Flipper, critters who were paid royally during their careers in film, benefitting their owners.
And then, there’s Darnell Wahler. Years ago, he phoned and said, “There’s a feller here that needs some testifyin’ to damage at the house. You seen it, ain’t you, an’ know what I’m talkin’ about? He’s a gover-ment man, an’ they might give me some assistance to fix it up. Can you come by?”
Darnell was about as familiar with Government assistance as a person could be, to not be in office. I went to his place, and sure enough, somebody official-looking was officially looking. The only introduction I got was, “This here’s the gov’ment man,” and he, “this here’s a feller that can tell you this here’s all Harrycane Katrina damage. C’mon, I’ll show you.”
We walked through the weeds that constituted Darnell’s front yard and into his modest (putting it mildly) house. The screen door was damaged, and Darnell asked me, “Now, didn’t Katrina do that? You tell me, didn’t she?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“We’re actually several hundred miles from the coast and in the mountains.” Adressing me, he said, “Sir, did Katrina do this?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“An’ look at this smelly ol’ moldy carpet. Katrina again, Mister! An’ you see that furniture?” The furniture in question was pretty much every piece of furniture in the house, torn, shredded or broken. “Every bit of that was done by Katrina!”
“Was it, sir?”
“Every bit,” I affirmed.
“But how?” the government agent asked. “Five-hundred miles away?”
“I reckon it’s like skippin’ a stone ‘cross th’ water,” Darnell offered. “You git the first big hit, an’ she bounces, an’ hits agin, an’ bounces, an’ right along ‘til there ain’t but one little hit left. This is it,” he said, indicating his surroundings.
Eventually, the agent wore down. Darnell was given some papers to fill out and promised monetary “assistance.” After the man had left, the hillbilly called, “Here, girl! Come here.” A giant pit-bull climbed through the window of the truck she had been sleeping in the whole time, wagging her tail. “Aw,” Darnell said. “He didn’t even say goodbye to Katrina! Harry-cane Katrina!”
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