Thursday, January 13, 2011

Remembering Granny Dogs and Old Men

     Granny Dogs is a term I picked up from my sculptor friend Jan Mapes.  It’s more a term of endearment for our retired or oldest dog.  Right now, my granny dog is a half blackmouth cur/half redbone I call Quattro.  Quattro had 4 white feet when she was born, so the name just stuck. 
     She’s nine years old and still quite capable.  In fact, last week I turned her loose to run a big boar hog that’s been dipping his big toe in my tank.  She ran him about a ½ mile while working his hind end til he gave her a close shave across her flank.  No one got hurt and he got the message.  Detente! 
     It’s nice to watch my bulldog puppy loosen up Quattro’s stoic personality.  Quattro accidently found herself playing among the puppies.  Then she suddenly comes to her senses and tries to recompose herself into the old worker she exemplifies.
     My last granny dog (Jewel-see previous post) maintained her composure right til the end, but her pen mate Bodie (also a previous post) could bring out the puppy in her when she least expected it.  It’s an interesting thing to see. 
     I guess it’s hard to maintain all that dignity even if you’re a dog.  I like puppies, but old dogs touch my soul.  There is some kind of connection I have with old dogs.  You can see what they have given and the tolls that have been taken. 
     “Old Man” seems to be the terms of choice for the battle-scarred males that are hanging on.  I remember an old catch dog that belonged to a hog hunter around Quihi, Texas.  He was a Catahoula/Blackmouth cross that was a mess of dark keloid scars  from terrible cuts received while working big boar hogs.  He was a dead ringer for Fred Gibson’s “Old Yeller”.
     I saw him maybe two, maybe three times, but never got his picture.  He always came up to me with a happy tail wagging posture, and only answered to “Old Man”.  When I think back on all the headers and heelers, bay dogs, catch dogs, big-country pointing dogs, close range “foot dogs”, and the little game terriers that will dash down the dark hole, I realize I’ve been blessed with the greatest gift in the world.  I think it’s the ability to enjoy the smallest of things.
     Tomorrow---More on the small things.

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