Thursday, 23 September 2021
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I’ve pretty much always had one. First came Junior and Brunney. Then I had Spanky followed by Shark and Nickel. Then came Duke, one of the most loyal, protective and potentially vicious. He was half-wolf, half elk hound. He loved me, hated just about everyone else. Maybe saved me a bad beating one time. He traveled a half-million miles rodeoing with me. Then the beagles and the two birddogs. Then, there was Cinnamon and Bo. Then a while without one. Then came The Libby, maybe the best of them all.

Libby loves me without reservation. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, she wants to be there. She takes every step I take. Where I sit, she sits. Where I sleep, she sleeps. Libby is devoted to me. She loves everybody. But she is unconditionally devoted to me.

I got Libby out of shelter when she was two and a half. I walked in, and she looked at me and I looked at her. I knew right then, she was the one I wanted. She is a pure Tennessee Mountain Cur, bred to tree squirrels and with a natural bob tail. They are great dogs but can be stubborn.

Her previous owner must have mistreated her because she was badly “cowed” when she came to live with me. It took a couple months for me to completely gain her trust. As time went by, she reached the point I could not get out of her sight. 

One day I took her with me do some deer scouting. In minutes, she had treed a squirrel. She went on to tree six more in rapid fashion. I knew I had a top notch squirrel dog. Then, I learned, she was horribly gun shy. The first time I shot a squirrel over her, she ran away. It took me an hour to get her to come back. She sat in my lap on the ground, shaking for an hour. It was okay. I didn’t care about shooting squirrelsanyway. Later, I learned she had been shot. Every now and then, I can feel a pellet under her skin. If I work her alone, she is a pretty good deer recovery dog. It only took one lesson. As soon as she understood what I wanted, she went right to work.

I have said on several occasions I believe Libby saved my life. I got her during a bout of deep depression. She brought me out of it. Her constant company was exactly what I needed. To see her excitement as I pulled in the driveway always made me smile. When she was young, she would jump on top of the tall freezer I kept in the garage. From there, she could look out the window and see me coming. It always made me laugh. Her warmth and pressure as she leans against me gives me comfort. Libby likes to snooze with her head on my leg or chest and I have come to expect it. She always wants to have some part of her body touching me, making sure I don’t go anywhere. If I am not available, one of my shoes will do until I get home.

Libby is nine now. She has slowed some, greyed some and maybe doesn’t hear as well as she once did. But we still play, go for rides and hunt moles. We have aged well together. Our pace is about the same.

She loves Jeanne and the grandkids, gets excited when the G-kids come to visit. But she can only spend a few minutes with them. Then, she has to come check on me, make sure I haven’t gone anywhere. When I am not feeling well, she can tell. When I am depressed, she knows. Always, she shows her unconditional love for me. I hope she outlives me but not by much. If I spend a night or two away from home, she won’t sleep or stay long inside. She wants to be where she can see if I am coming.

I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have her stretched out on the couch while I write, or sitting on the steps, watching as I work on the boat. She makes every round with me as I mow the grass. I probably could not sleep well without feeling her warmth or her legs kicking as she dreams at her end of the bed.

What would I do  without Libby? Every kid, regardless of age, needs a dog.


The Bark Box

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