How the farm got another animal


By Daris Howard | Special to The PREVIEW

My mom loved to tell the story of her dog, Bob. Mom was not much of one for pets. She grew up during the Depression, and to stay around the farm, animals had to have some productive value, such as giving milk or eggs. Cats at her home ran wild, catching their own food. If they were good at that, they were allowed a home in the barn, but nothing more. The only other animals were cattle, horses and chickens. Anything else was another mouth to feed and was unneeded and unwanted.

But one day, when Mom was about 5, a stray dog wandered into the yard. It was haggard, ragged and extremely timid. It obviously hadn’t eaten in a while, and his mangy fur showed that he likely belonged to no one. Mom’s parents said he could stay for one good meal, then he needed to find another home. They offered a good meal to all the people traveling through looking for work but could share little more. They felt they should do the same for the dog.

They gave the dog some scraps of food they found and a little milk. He ate it like he hadn’t eaten in years. Mom wanted to brush him before sending him on his way, but her parents forbade it. They were afraid she might get too attached.

After the dog had eaten, Mom’s father shooed it up the driveway and back to the road it had come from.

Mom decided to walk out to her brothers, who were working to get the hay in. She decided to cut across the cow pasture. She had been told never to go in there because the bull could be unpredictable, but it was a shorter distance, and the bull, along with the cows, were at the far end of the pasture. But when she reached the middle of the pasture, the bull saw her and was apparently in a bad mood. He came at her from about a hundred yards away.

Her parents and brothers heard her screams but were too far away to reach her in time. But the stray dog wasn’t. He had returned and wandered out with her, though he kept his distance, shying away from all humans.

As the bull charged, Mom’s brothers and parents ran to her aid, but the bull was far closer and running much faster. Mom’s family members screamed and waved their arms as they ran, trying to draw the bull’s attention. But nothing could distract him from his target — at least nothing could until a small dog suddenly appeared in his path and started barking and growling ferociously.

The bull slid to a stop, and he and the dog had a standoff. They circled each other, and then the bull rushed the dog. The dog leapt out of the way at the last instant like an expert bullfighter, then he jumped and sank his teeth into the bull’s fleshy skin on his hip. The bull bellowed in pain and spun to free himself from the dog. The dog was flung a short distance, then the two faced off again. Once again, the bull charged with the same results. This happened a few more times before the bull finally decided he had had enough. He ran back to the herd to cry to the cows about his cruel mistreatment.

As the rest of the family arrived, the dog fearfully started to slink away.

My mom’s father said, “Joyce, call the dog to you. He seems to have some affection for you.”

My mom called the dog. He stopped, but didn’t come to her. The others had to back away before he would, but he did come after the others gave her some space.

“Can I pet him, Daddy?” she asked.

Her father nodded. “Why not? I think he feels he’s your dog.”

They named him Bob because he had a bobbed tail. And that’s how the farm got another animal.

“After all,” Mom’s dad said, “saving a family member is probably the most productive thing an animal can do.”

To be continued.

Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN.