Saturday, January 24, 2009
I was recently digging through the dusty archives of things written, not-written, ideas, etc. which have accumulated over the years. In it, I found the story below which I composed in April, 1990. The events are based in truth and occurred in the 70's and 80's.
She sure looked scared all huddled up in the back corner of the kennel. It was hard to believe that someone would have such a beautiful animal put to sleep. she wasn't hurt all that bad, but the vet bill was going to be higher than her owner was willing to pay.
Ninety dollars to remove her eye and sew it shut -- but, what good could a one-eyed cowdog be anyway? Wounded in the line of duty by a young horse that didn't know better than to kick at the darting ball of fur nipping at that old cow's nose. A lot of good years left, even with one eye -- but not worth ninety dollars.
I had been working for Doc almost a year and was beginning to make a fair hand at patchin' up the critters that found their way into the clinic. Doc was determined to make a vet out of me, so he let me do a lot of things an assistant normally wouldn't have had opportunity to try.
I told Doc that I thought I could sew up her eye if he'd let me. Sew it up and take her home and not tell anyone that she didn't make it to her great reward on schedule.
She didn't want to be handled. I guess instinct said that this place was not going to be kind to her. Like a wounded badger, she crouched in the corner with her teeth bared and her good eye toward me. Sometimes you have to get a little rough to be kind.
The operation went well, with only a smidgen of guidance from Doc's experienced hand. During the week of recovery, every spare minute was spent in making her acquaintance -- and she became a friend.
Finally, the time to go home arrived and Didjereedoo was well on her way to recovery. A few more weeks of fresh air, green grass and a lot of attention and she was well in body and spirit. It soon became difficult to tell that she was only one-eyed. Her adjustment to the handicap was nearly perfect.
Over the years she was a joy to my family and to me. She never was any good at chasing cattle again. She was too cautious of flying feet. For companionship though, she couldn't be beat.
During years of college and then a new marriage, she and I were often apart. She did just fine living with my parents, but I knew that someday she would move in with my new family -- and so she did.
When we moved to our little country place near town, I knew that Didjer had found the place she had been waiting for. It was her fifth different home since I had rescued her, but the gray frost on her muzzle indicated this would probably be her last.
Still lively after surviving years of puppies, snake-bite, occasional sickness and many a highway pizza, Didjer decided she was still young enough to chase cars. I guess it was the influence of the younger dogs that we had kept to give her company. She was an expert at crouching in the ditch and approaching at just the right speed and angle to make an off-side intercept at almost any time of day or night. I didn't like her ways, but she was beyond convincing that car-chasing wasn't a sport for old dogs. I was concerned that the results would be fatal.
Her end was sudden, and I guess appropriate. It was a pickup that got her -- the sad part is, I was driving. She approached on her blind side and I guess she stumbled. I knew when I felt the bump that her time was gone. Not even a whimper. I stopped and ran back, but she never moved.
It's been about two years now since I buried her under the big old elm tree out back. She was a good friend. Her pup that we had kept got to chasing the neighbor's cattle and found her end very shortly afterwards. I haven't owned a dog since. I guess I know that another dog could never replace my one-eyed cowdog, Didjer.
Note: I have since owned a number of dogs.