It is the People You Meet

It is the people you meet that matter most. This is true throughout life, whether on a trip, settling in a new location, or choosing to stay in the county where you were born.

It is the People You Meet in…

The Library

Ashe County A historyWhile seeking help learning about the local history, I met Lee. She and I found common ground with our family names. Actually, my older sister was named for aunts on each side of my parents’ families. Similarly, Lee’s name is a combination of her two grandmothers, ‘Little Elizabeth Ellen’, a perfect diplomatic solution. Pictured is the local history book Lee pulled from the reference stacks, a delectable, detailed history.

Mt. Jefferson State Park

Great lobeliaHoping to find a recommendation for a plant identification book, I chanced upon Wildlife Officer McIntyre in the park office. As I explained my deep appreciation for wildflowers, he was busy writing notes, his blue-green eyes smiling above his mask.

Sharing my photo of a roadside flower near my home, we keyed out great lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica. Consequently, my copy of Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, is on the way. Another employee showed me how to use my own photos for easy identification in iNaturalist, now an app on my iPhone front screen.

The NEIGHBORHOOD

Neighbors are easy to meet when walking, either for personal exercise or combined with your dog. Sugar and I walk daily along the road in front of the house.

The South Fork of the New RiverWe’ve met Joe and his dog, Bailey, our closest neighbors with a home on our street. Walking the opposite direction, we met Alex and his rescue dog. As rural residents, we are each eager to open our mailbox for the mystery contents. That’s how we met Scooby, the German Shepherd, and his owner, Alex, at an intersection of the South Fork of the New River lined with a row of mailboxes. In fact, the FedEx truck was also there. Yes, we love our delivery people too.

May you enjoy the people you meet this week!

Dogs Have Been Special to Me

My entire life, dogs have been special to me. Do you find their pure energy  attractive too? Or are you frightened by them?

I’ve Had Scary Encounters Too

When I was young, there were a pair of German Shepherds on the corner of our street. It was possible to avoid them walking home from school, but not always easy. Their snarling, barking and rushing to the fence made my heart race. Consequently, I was always extra affectionate to our family dog, a one-eyed Pekingese named Mitzi, when I got home.

Once, I was even bitten by a police dog, though not a German Shepherd. Rather, he was a docile looking bloodhound named Beau. At that time, the comedic variety show, Hee Haw was popular. I thought the bloodhound on the credits looked sleepy and harmless.

My neighbor’s husband was an Orange County Deputy Sheriff who kept Beau in a kennel on their property. I volunteered to water the plants on their back patio while they went away a few days. Someone else was taking care of Beau, but I didn’t know who. My son was not yet two and I had him secured in my backpack. As we strolled into the enclosed patio, guess who was laying in the middle of the bromeliads? Yep, there was Beau, lounging amongst the plants, copious amounts of saliva dripping off his large head.

I didn’t want to accidentally spray Beau with the hose, so I bent down, grabbed his collar and put him back in his kennel. After I finished watering some hanging plants, I returned to the patio. There he was again.. in the same place. Once again, I went to retrieve him in the exact same manner. Only this time, he wrapped his mouth around my upper arm and clamped down enough to get my attention. Then he let go. Still not getting the message, I started, once again, to grab his collar when he emitted a low growl that stopped me cold. I kept my gaze on the ground and slowly backed away, willing my fear to drop beneath his radar.

The Aftermath

As I walked the two blocks home, I lifted my sleeve to get a look at the damage. There were small bruises forming in each place a tooth had pressed into my flesh. Thankfully there was no blood.

Once inside the house, I called 911. Who else would know how to get a police dog back in his cage? The dispatcher asked all the questions about my safety and my condition, advising me to get a tetanus shot and that an officer would be over to take my statement.

Behind the scenes, they contacted a Deputy Sheriff dog handler named Jeff, who was familiar with Beau. He knew that once Beau got riled, he was uncontrollable. Jeff arrived and suited up in full attack dog training fashion. Beau almost completely ripped up Jeff’s arm protection, before he successfully returned him to his kennel. Then Jeff secured the gate so Beau couldn’t get out again.

Lessons Learned

First and foremost, I learned you can’t forget the power that resides inside any animal that feels cornered or intimidated.

Second, I realized I could handle a potentially dangerous situation with calmness, protecting myself and my son.

Third, my instinct took over and everything I’ve ever read about dog behavior kept us free from serious harm.

Some Parting Sweetness

Dogs have been special to me regardless of my difficult encounter. Here are a few of my favorite photos of my three-year-old Brittany, Sugar. Click on a picture to view full-size in a gallery.

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Sugar’s Human Mom,
Dawn

Last Walk in the Yard

One week ago today, our thirteen-year-old Brittany, Dubba, took his last walk in the yard. The decision to end the suffering of a beloved pet is hard, very hard. Carrying out that decision is a burden shared by many. This article is in appreciation for Dubba and the love he showed me, once he got to know me.

A Sporting Life

I’m a supporter of rescue dogs and my life before Wayne has included many. In contrast, Dubba was bred to point birds, specifically quail. He was a master of his craft, teaching many young Brittany pups the art of trailing the scent, pinpointing the hidden location, and then standing stock still until released by the bird taking flight.

Once the hunter brought down the bird, Dubba retrieved it carefully with a ‘soft mouth’, responding to the call of his master, my husband, Wayne. I traipsed behind the hunters one cool Spring morning and watched the symphony of man, dog, and quail in a field, dotted with palmetto islands.

Wild quail hunting is a thing of the past, their natural habitat replaced by housing tracts with cement walls and names like, “Quail Trail Preserve”. Now there are quail breeders and quail brokers. Wayne or his friend, Fred, purchase the birds right before the hunt and place them in the field. When I first saw this, I was taken a back. Consequently, I understand and appreciate the joy of our Brittanys when they are on the hunt.

A Man and His Dog

The bond between Wayne and Dubba was deep, born when Dubba was born in the same home Wayne and I now share. I’ve know Dubba four years. At first he was a bit intimidating. Within a few months, he was seeking me out, rubbing his head against my thigh.

Although Wayne had hopes of breeding our puppy, Sugar, with Dubba, that never happened. Dogs have preferences too. Dubba did not care for Sugar. I breathed a sigh of relief. The thought of raising puppies kept me up nights.

Many years ago, Dubba was a house dog, like his sister, Marilyn and Sugar are today. Dubba, however, insisted on marking his territory inside the house. He received his own house in the yard with an elevated, enclosed and covered area, front entrance, and steps down to the cool cement floor of his spacious kennel. Soon after, a lost, injured American Bulldog found Wayne in Georgia on a deer hunting trip. After diligent efforts to find the Bulldog’s owners failed, Wayne named her Daisy, and brought her home to live with Dubba.

Dogs Have Feelings Too

Wayne and I were worried about Daisy’s reaction to the absence of her friend, Dubba. At first, she was very subdued; barking and eating less, sleeping more. We’ve given Daisy extra tummie rubs, more exercise and attention. She is responding well and seems as happy as she was before. Wayne and I feel better too.

Life Moves On

For all of you who experienced your dog’s last walk in the yard, I feel your pain. I also feel your warm memories of sloppy dog kisses, endless games of fetch, and tender moments. Goodbye dear friend, Dubba.

Love,
Dog Mama Dawn