Monday, February 17, 2014
Back when we were growing up my daddy was gone a lot, off working. He helped to build roads, bridges, etc. He’d be gone for a week or two and sometimes three before he got to come home for the weekend. He’d come in on a Friday night and go back Sunday evening. We all hated to see him go but we knew he had to work to make a living but it didn’t stop us from missing him really bad.
I’ll never forget one Friday night when daddy came home he brought a pretty, reddish looking dog home. He said this older couple that he ate with a lot through the week gave her to him. He loved home cooked meals and he paid the older couple to be able to get a hot supper plus he said that old lady could cook the best ya ever seen. They gave him the dog cause she was a squirrel dog and she needed to be able to run and hunt and the man wasn’t able to take her plus they lived to close to the city.
We thought she was the best thing to come along since penny candy and it didn’t take us or her long to get attached. Daddy said her name was Lady but it wasn’t long till that was changed to Old Lady. She was a very, gentle dog with a heart of gold. When it came time for my brothers to take her squirrel hunting, she’d run on ahead and have one up a tree before they could get there. We soon found out how good a squirrel dog she was. They’d bring back the squirrels and mama would cook em and make gravy or dumplins out of em. She’d wag that tail like she was so proud of herself when they’d come back from a hunt.
Then one day Old Lady went missing. We looked for days and days and the boys plowed through the woods calling out her name but she wasn't to be found and our hearts were broken. We walked around lost and couldn't get our minds off of her and where she might be, if she was hungry or thirsty, hurt or sick, and we didn't want to think the worse.
When daddy came in from work the following weekend we saw him coming out the road and we run to meet him to tell him Old Lady was gone and it broke his heart too, we could see it in his eyes. Daddy helped us hunt for her all weekend and kept telling us she’d come home soon enough. I think he only told us that so we wouldn’t be so sad and heart broken, cause he had to go right back to work that Sunday evening.
Then my uncle, came by one day just to stop in a while like he always did. He was the best feller in the world when he didn’t have a little nip in him but when he smelled of it mama would put him in the wind, if you know what I mean. On that particular day mama said something that made us all take notice. She said it loud enough for all to hear cause we’d been telling him how Old Lady was gone and we didn’t have a clue as to where she was at. Mama said, there’s one thing for certain and one thing for sure if somebody has stole that dog and carried her off she’d make sure they were thrown in the jailhouse and they threw away the key. We didn’t know what to make of it except to think that mama missed her as bad as we did. After she said that my uncle just politely got up and left.
Then something strange happened the very next day. We were out in the yard playing late that next evening when one of the boys looked up and saw Old Lady coming out the road. He hollered, there’s Old Lady and we all looked out the road and run to meet her and grabbed her around the neck. She was so proud to see us too. She was standing there wagging her tail and she even laid down on the ground to let us pet her. Then about the time mama walked up one of the boys spoke up and said, I wonder where she’s been all this time. Mama said, she’s back and that’s all that matters.
We never did find out for sure what happened to her or where she’d been. I often wondered but it was never mentioned again.
Old Lady was still around when I grew up and got married. My husband went hunting with her and the boys too. They’d even take her possum hunting with em. She’d tree a possum just as fast as she’d tree a squirrel. He fell out of a tree one night while trying to climb it and get the possum out and broke his little, pinky finger. He wouldn’t go to the doctor and it’s still crooked as Old Lady’s hind legs were.
When we got Old Lady she was about three years old and she lived to be seventeen years old. Our hearts were really broken one morning when we found she’d gone to her reward. Things were never the same anymore and I still think of her yet. She sure did earn her crown, she was the best dog we ever had. We had many dogs to come and go while growing up but there has never been another dog like her and I can only imagine the many squirrels and possums she’s treeing in heaven. Old Lady will forever remain in our hearts and a big part of our family.
© Susie Swanson, 2014