Maggie and Charger
Maggie was doing her usual Ho routine of hanging her head out the window and prancing around trying to get people passing by to stop and pet her. I swear if she could talk it would be all, “Hey big boy. Hey Mister! Come on over here. I’ll lick your hand… “ She finally caught a live one. This old man stopped and after letting her sniff and lick his hand, he started scratching her behind the ears. As she squirmed with delight, he stood there blathering baby-talk at her in his deep southern accent. She was in heaven.
Finally he looked up at me and asked how old she was and if we “hunted” her. I told him that she was about two years old and that we wouldn’t know the first thing about teaching her to hunt. That’s when he started his story:
I got me a little old tri-colored beagle years ago from a buddy cause the pup was the runt of the litter and my buddy couldn’t sell him. Well I didn’t really have a lot of use for a little runty pup, but then it weren’t no trouble to have him around with my other dogs, neither, so I just kept him. Named him Charger cause that little dog didn’t seem to know he was a runt. He would charge up to those bigger dogs all the time and he didn’t back down none either. That little dog was fearless. Used to make me laugh just watching him.
When he got to be about six months old, he had gotten a might bigger and I thought I would start training him up to hunt rabbits. Well Charger loved to get out in the woods. He didn’t exactly seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer on the hunting. But he sure did enjoy it. That was one happy dog. He used to sorta smile and squirmed like this one here when we walked down to the gate at the end of the yard.
When Charger was about eight months old, he got to running this coon we called Old Stumpy. We called the coon Old Stumpy cause one of his legs had done been gnawed off. Don’t know how. He was a big old coon but he got around right fast on three legs. Well Charger just ran that coon down. He didn’t even back off when the coon turned on him. That damned coon tore most of Charger’s nose off so it was barely connected to his head.
I took Charger right to the vet and they managed to get his nose stuck back on. 1,200 dollars worth of surgery. Had to sell my old GTO to pay for it. That was ok though. Then the vet told me Charger wasn’t ever gonna be able to hunt again. His smell was all messed up and they couldn’t do nothin else for him.
[moment of silence and intense ear scratching of Maggie who was still squirming delightedly]
Well. He never was much of a hunter no how. He sure was a happy dog though. He still loved going out in the woods just as much even though he couldn’t smell right no more. And he loved riding in my truck. But he didn’t like riding alone in the back. He wanted to be up front with Dad. He used to love to go down to Wanda’s and get a bowl of vanilla ice cream out on the porch.
[another moment of silence]
I had that guy for almost eleven years. Still miss him I reckon. Well. I should be gettin on now. You take care of this little girl here. She’s a good one.
As I watched the old guy walk on into the truck stop, I found myself scratching the same spot on Maggie’s head that he had been scratching. Hoping I don’t take her for granted. And deciding to go get her a little bowl of vanilla ice cream after a long romp in the field next to the parking lot.