PANAMA HEARS A DOG STORY
(H/t to m'pal, JT in Santa Fe, and to Red for his humanity)
Rockvale, TN, June 2007 - -
I took a ride a couple of days ago and picked up some cement blocks from a nice old man I'd met at the VA. There were a lot of them, well over one hundred, and it took me two trips over two days, so I kinda got to know my block benefactor a little bit.
The guy I got them from, a fellow VA client, went in the Army when he was 19, in 1967. He was a sniper, and he says that being a sniper kinda distances you from your comrades, what with you hiding up in trees for days at a time and, sniping being kind of unsavory and sneaky and just plain not honest, hell, it's murder plain and simple, so you don't develop many close buddies in the service.
In 1967 I was 22. So I got just a few years on him. This poor f*cker looks about twice my age, has had five heart attacks and after the last one tried to commit suicide, which they saved him from and put him in the nuthouse out at VA, which the denizens often call Club Meds.
His name is James. James is, like a lot of those we refer to as "lacking in social skills", somewhat of a misanthrope. That much contact with first the Viet Cong and now the Veterans' Administration will do that to you.
His social outlet, the thing that keeps his groove thing going the little bit that it does, is that he keeps a bunch of animals, mostly dogs but a few goats and turkeys and the odd interloping wild thing, upon whom he lavishes all the overflowing goodness of his f*cked up and failing heart that the world wants nothing to do with.
He told me a dog story, and that, finally, is the subject of this note.
A coupla years back, there appeared on James's land a pit bulldog who would hide at the edge of the woods and watch all that was going on in the yard. But when James tried to approach him he would run away.
James ultimately did become his trusted friend, though, and got him to the vet and he was full of scars. The vet said he thought the dog had been used as a "training dog" for bringing out the beast, which they call "blooding" around here, in fighting pit bulldogs. Thus he had gotten all physically f*cked up, as well as developing a deep and keen mistrust of anything on two or even four legs.
I'm jumping ahead in this part here as a set up to the story, so you can get some idea of the total desperation, desolation and sadness of this critter before he found his way to James's.
Around here we got a lotta goats. In some places the ground is rocky and you can't run cows there, so goats is it. Some folks keep sheep as well. Which brings us to the Great Pyrenees breed of dog. What a noble creature! The complete opposite of the pit bull prototype, the Pyrenees is innately nurturing and caring for all around him. They live with their charges, adopt the herd as their pack and, looking pretty much the same as the creatures they care for, provide total protection for sheep and the famous Tennessee fainting goats.
Around the time the pit bull showed up and was hiding at the edge of the woods, James had just acquired a couple of Pyrenees pups to run with his goats and turkeys. He kept the pups in a cage in his yard; wanting
them to stay outdoor dogs he didn't bring them into his house.
Each day he'd look out at the sad pit bull at the edge of the woods and wonder if maybe he shouldn't put some food out for him. But he decided against doing that, because then the dog would have no incentive to come closer, would simply continue to hang out, fed but unloved and unsocialized, at the edge of the woods. So
he hoped hunger would bring the dog to him.
But he began to notice a strange occurrence.
Every morning, the Pyrenees pups' dish would be outside their cage. He couldn't figure it out. Meantime the pit
showed no sign of being hungry, was gaining weight in fact.
And then accidentally James got up early one morning and was looking out the window of his doublewide, and he saw the pups pushing the dish under the mesh of their cage to the pitbull waiting outside. So they were sharing their food with this strange sad little guy.
Well, it nearly broke James's heart of course, this display of altruistic behavior on the part of these little pups, no more than three months old. "Just part of the way Pyrenees is, I guess," he said to me.
So of course there was no point now to withholding food from the pit so James started feeding him, first at the edge of the woods, then bringing the food dish ever a little closer to the house, until he finally won him over.
Now the Pyrenees pups are grown and watch over his goats and ducks and turkeys. Their names are Rocket and Comet.
The pit bulldog is still there, too.
James named him Pretty Boy.
In Peace and Love