Old Yeller goes from howls to yelp
Dogs have a way of showing up at our farm-neighbors’ house, taking up the bad habit of chasing cars, then soon meeting their demise.
If a country dog doesn’t hunt, he chases cars. That’s what he does for a living. And he barks.
Afraid of PETA, the rural folks I know no longer reach for the shotgun and call the bad dog for a final walk into the woods. Nor do they take time to carry a dog to a shelter. So useless dogs simply show up and stay.
That’s how Smoky and Bandit came to live with our neighbors. They chase cars and bark, and the neighbors who the dogs adopted complain along with the rest of us.
But there is the third dog that I call Old Yeller. He’s about as no-good as Old Yeller of movie fame was in the beginning. Like Old Yeller, he’s yellow/brown and he showed up one day, and it took the neighbors a few months to like him.
Unlike Smoky and Bandit, who are built low to the ground and yelp, Yeller is a lumbering sort who had rather play than chase cars and bark. When he does bark, it is a deep rich rolling sound that builds to a crescendo.
All three dogs come bounding across the road when we show up at the Blount County farm, but only Yeller stays for a visit.
Last weekend he made an unsuccessful lunge for the take-out barbecue Regina left on the car seat with the door open.
The next morning he was back to help me cut brush along a fence row. He spooked once when he mistook the sound of brush dragging across the ground for a snake. He jumped and started to howl.
He was soon back to investigate a nest of wasps on the ground that I tried to not disturb. Yellow, though, stuck his nose in.
There was no deep bark to warn all in his presence to beware of him. He yelped, shook his head violently and took off for home, leaving me to the mad wasps.
I wish he’d just chase cars.
Tom Wright is executive editor.