The skies are gray and gloomy, with mist rising up on Pilot Knob. Rain drips monotonously from the eaves of the house and the day is dreary. The only bright spots are the congregation of red cardinals draped all over the rose of Sharon bush. My mood matches the day.
Chloe, our little Jack Russell dog is missing. She has been gone now for more than a week, and we look for her every day. Only those people who own (or do they own us?) little house dogs can understand the tragedy of losing a pet. Actually, they are more than pets -- they are part of the family.
We never had a house dog until about eight years ago when our daughter-in-law presented Criss with a little Jack Russell, which at first he resisted. It wasn't long until Millie adopted Criss, and she became "his" dog. She was his faithful companion everywhere he went; rode on the backhoe, riding lawn mower, and garden tractor.
If he left her in the house for any reason, she would run from door to door, throwing her weight against it, trying to get out. She was his constant companion, and that was her undoing. He had butchered a beef and was transporting quarters of it from the cooler to the meat shop, when another dog chased her under the wheels of his pickup.
It was evident that she was badly hurt, but Patty and I took her to the animal hospital anyway. The vet did everything he could, but there was no use. Patty and I both cried bitter tears all over her. We buried her under the mulberry tree, and Criss cried all weekend.
He swore he'd never have another house dog, but Sunday evening found him on the way to the place where we got Millie. And so six-week-old Minnie came into our lives. She was mine from the beginning. I slept with her; house broke her, and bonded with her. A lot of folks say they wouldn't have a Jack Russell because they are so hyper, but these dogs were laid back. They would run and play, but were not destructive and slept a lot.
We didn't aim to get another dog. Our family was finished. (You might think we were a lonely old couple with no children or grandchildren -- not so!) It's hard to explain the space that a little dog fills. They love you no matter what (sort of like your grandchildren!) and think you are the king of their universe. They can sense your moods, and when you are in need of a sympathetic tongue, they are right there.
Chloe came into our lives unexpectedly. Our great-granddaughters, who live in a mobile home almost in sight of us, had her first. She started visiting us, and pretty soon she moved in. They would take her home, and as soon as she could slip out the door, she was back here. Finally they told Poppaw he could have her. She had already attached herself to him.
Chloe loved everybody. She was a gentle dog with a good disposition. She was a lot younger than Minnie, and more playful. As soon as we had a visitor, she would drag an old dilapidated stuffed dog that had lost all its innards to them and begin a tug-of-war. People loved Chloe in return.
She was like Millie -- she loved to ride on the farm equipment with Criss and would come running if she heard him fire up the RV. She went with him to feed the calves in the mornings, and would follow Roscoe, his squirrel dog, up on the bank and tree a squirrel. She would sometimes tree one by herself and bark at it. She was just a special little dog.
Last week she followed him to the barn, and then went with Roscoe to tree a squirrel. (They had treed the same squirrels so many times, I think they were trained!) They never ventured very far and soon returned to the house. In a little while, Criss noticed that Roscoe was on the porch, but Chloe wasn't with him. We haven't seen her since.
The boys have scoured the fields and woods, without finding a trace of her. We put a notice in the paper, offering a reward, but no responses. When it turns colder and rainy like today, a person can't keep from wondering if she is cold, or hungry, or lost. She would never have wandered from the house. Minnie is droopy and lost without her bed buddy.
I asked someone if they thought it was wrong to pray for a dog, and they told me that Jesus loved the animals -- and what concerns us concerns Him too. I understand why people grieve over their pets -- they are family.
Oh, I miss Chloe!
BISHOP DOANE ON HIS DOG
I am quite sure that he thinks that I am God-
Since he is God on whom each one depends
For life, and all things that His bounty sends-
My dear old dog, most constant of friends;
Not quick to mind, but quicker far than I
To Him whom God I know and own; his eye
Deep brown and liquid, watches for my nod;
He is more patient underneath the rod
Than I, when God His wise corrections send.
He looks love at me, deep as words e'er spake;
And from me never crumb or sup will take
But he wags thanks with his most vocal tail;
And when some crashing noise wakes all his fear,
He is content and quiet if I am near.
Secure that my protection will prevail.
So, faithful, mindful, thankful, trustful, he
Tells me what I unto my God should be.
By George Washington Doane
We received a recipe from a good friend that we want to share. It is more sophisticated than our usual country grub, but as she is a city mouse, we understand. (She really likes The West Virginia bean recipe that Lawton Posey's wife sent in, so she's not all "city.")
Beet salad (For Two)
Three fresh beets
A handful of arugula
Sweet and sour dressing
Put on dark, washable clothing (You'll see why)
Cut beet leaves from beets and cook separately
*Hint-leave two or three inches of stem on beets and they won't bleed
Boil beets until tender; chill and remove skin.
Slice beets in 1/3-inch slices. On two plates, stack slices with feta cheese between slices.
Wash arugula and chop the heck out of it. Mix with sweet and sour dressing, homemade or bought.
Cover the beets, tops and sides with arugula. These beets should end up looking like a Chia pet. Amazingly good.
From Bunny Crockett
Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at alycef...@citlink.net or write to 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.