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Commentary: Tales of mischievous dogs, butter, a bathtub and briquettes

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Dr. Lucas Boyd, Columnist

Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at coondogspress@bellsouth.net.

I have, through the years, run across several unusual pet dogs.  

Jack was a very large, black bloodhound who belonged to “Showboat” Boykin, a fullback on the Ole Miss football team. The campus was small in those years, with about 2,500 students, and it was Jack’s roaming territory.  

Most everybody on campus knew him. He was “well-endowed” in several aspects. One day some prankster put an athletic supporter on him. It really made him look obscene. You could follow his amble through the student union building by the shrieks of the coeds.

Jack usually attended the evening meal of the athletes’ training table, which was in a separate building. He would go around begging for food. His chin was the same height as the tables and he’d lay it on the corner of your table and nudge your arm to let you know he was available for a morsel. 

Jack also liked butter, which was served in pats on little cardboard squares. One evening one boy began taking him around to the uncleared tables and feeding him the leftover pats of butter. Soon Jack was surfeited with butter and would howl when offered a pat. 

To escape, he lay down on the floor, flat on his stomach, and put his paws over his eyes. When he’d peek out and see his tormenter offering him another pat of butter, he’d howl from that position. He escaped when Boykin finished eating and took him home.

Boykin was a good fullback but not a good student of English literature. After a couple of failed attempts at the required course, he signed up for Professor Green’s class. Green was a great teacher but a little unconventional. On the first day of class, Jack followed Boykin and stretched out in the back of the room to nap. Green called the roll and then spied Jack’s massive frame.

The exchange:

“I believe our room has been invaded by a very large mastiff. Does he have an owner?”

“He’s mine, sir.”

“What’s his name?”

“Jack, sir. I apologize. I’ll take him out.” Boykin got up and grabbed Jack’s collar.

“No, don’t do that. Let him stay. He’s a magnificent beast. I’ve seen him around campus. I’ll add him to our roll. Bring him again.”

Boykin made sure he brought Jack every day. And Green always called his name and marked his attendance. Jack had a better attendance record than some of the human students. Boykin often said that Jack helped him through English lit.

As a side note, Boykin lived up to his “Showboat” nickname in his last game against Mississippi State when he ran for seven touchdowns in a 49-0 victory.

Andy lived across the street. He was a medium-size dog of variable ancestry.  The town had no leash law, so Andy and the other dogs roamed freely. But Andy was different from his other canine friends. He was a kleptomaniac. As he wandered about the neighborhood, he would pick up stuff, bring it home and deposit it on his front porch. 

No small object was safe. If he could carry or drag it, he’d bring it home. He never chewed on these items or defaced them in any way. It was not uncommon to see him coming down the street carrying a tennis shoe by one lace. Shoes, caps, ball gloves, books, toys, items of clothing and even small potted plants were just some of the things that showed up on a regular basis. 

Of course, his owners had no idea where any of the stuff came from, but they devised a plan for its return. Backed into their driveway was a car that no longer ran. So, as items showed up, they would place them on the hood or top of this car. It was always festooned with the results of Andy’s crimes. It looked like an ever-changing piece of modern art. 

As far as I know, the neighbors did not lodge any complaints. They just came by on a regular basis and picked up their stuff.

Buddy was, as his owner, Mary, liked to say, a sweet pit bull. Of course, you don’t usually hear “sweet” and “pit bull” in the same sentence. Anyway, Buddy was another dog who liked to bring things home, except, unlike Andy, he brought home live animals. 

Mary lived on a large tract of rugged rural property and Buddy had a doggie door so he could come and go as he pleased. Many nights he’d go out hunting and bring back a snake, rabbit, squirrel, possum, bird, etc. that he’d injure but not kill. Mary trained him to place his offerings in the bathtub so that she could find them easily and dispose of them. 

One day she was telling some of us that Buddy had brought in an aardvark. When told that that was not possible since they live in Africa or South America, she said, “I think they’re moving into our area.” It turned out to be an armadillo.

One day Buddy got deathly ill. The vet determined that someone had shot a deer that had run onto Mary’s place and died. In feasting on the carcass, Buddy had chewed up and swallowed some of the bones, which had punctured his intestine. He could not be saved, done in by his powerful jaws.

Reggie’s real name was Reginal plus two more names with a Roman numeral at the end. He was a registered basset hound with papers longer than his legs. He would eat most anything and each morning made the rounds of the grocery stores in Bell Buckle looking for handouts.

One day his owner grilled steaks and left the top of the grill up for it to cool down. A day or so later, Reggie began to mope around, refusing to eat. It was a sure sign that something was amiss. When Reggie’s owner went out to put the grill up, he noticed that most of the permanent charcoal briquettes were missing and surmised that Reggie had eaten them. With all the drippings from the meat, they had been too much of a treat for Reggie to pass up. The vet had to operate to get them out. Unfortunately, he died on the table.

When word got out that his owner had cleaned up the recovered briquettes and put them back into the grill, someone asked him how he could do such a thing.  “Why, those things are expensive,” was his response.

And then there are folks who say “Our dogs are our children.” But I’m not going that route today.

Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at

coondogspress@bellsouth.net.

 

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