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By Jack McCall

My wife Kathy has a dog. It is a miniature schnauzer.

A miniature schnauzer has been a part of Kathy’s life for over 40 years.

I have been married to Kathy for 37 years. A miniature schnauzer is a housedog.

I consider myself a country boy. When you grow up in the country, you develop a caveman mentality toward dogs. Cavemen had their dogs sleep at the mouth of the cave – outside. The dogs served as an alarm system.

On the farm where I grew up we had many dogs over the years. My favorite was a little black, long-haired dog named Pudd. Then there was Ginger, King, Skip and a Doberman named Mick. They all stayed outside. They slept in the barn, in the shop, under the back porch, and on the front porch. They never came inside the house.

Submitted photo

When I married Kathy, her dog came as part of the deal.

Her first schnauzer’s name was Brandy. Brandy lived to the ripe old dog-age of 16. In her declining years, she grew completely deaf. By her 13th year she had grown fond of sleeping on the cool floor of our garage. One day, as Brandy lay sleeping behind the car, Kathy got in the car, started the engine and backed over the sleeping dog.

From all indications, Brandy had suffered a broken back. Her back legs seemed useless. It was on a Sunday. Not a veterinarian was in sight.

Kathy called her uncle, the late Dr. E.K. Bratton, and told him of her plight. After much soul searching, she agreed to have Dr. Bratton come out and put the dog to sleep. Late in the afternoon, Dr. Bratton came and administered a combination of drugs that he thought would do the trick.

I placed Brandy in a big cardboard box with low sides and transported her across Walnut Grove Road to my neighbor’s old calf barn. It was a good, isolated place for her to die in peace.

The next morning, I took my shovel and headed across the road to execute a proper burial. The double doors to the calf barn are big, heavy and noisy. As I slid one of the doors open and looked inside the barn, Brandy’s head popped up like a jack-in-the box! She was fully alert and very much alive!

It was Monday morning. We took her to the vet and found that her pelvis was broken.

That dog lived three more years until Kathy ran over her – again!

The next schnauzer we owned was a little black male we named Reebok. That was the meanest, most defiant little dog with which I was ever acquainted. I knew he would not be long for this world. If he got outside the house, he headed for the hills. One morning he ran away and met his maker on Walnut Grove Road.

After two schnauzers and almost 20 years, I was ready to give up on having a housedog.

However, I am keenly aware of, and fully appreciate the old Southern axiom that goes something like this: “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

We got another dog. It was just before Christmas. We named her Jingle Belle. For 14 years, we called her Belle.

Over those 14 years Belle developed some really bad house-habits. In her declining years, she insisted on sleeping in the bed with Kathy.

Let me say it this way. If the dog was sleeping with Kathy, and I was sleeping with Kathy; then I guess you could say I was sleeping with a dog.

And if I may, let me throw this in. There is nothing that can kill a romantic moment like snuggling up close to your wife, placing your arm around her, and sticking your hand in a dog’s mouth.

Over the last year of her life, Belle’s health deteriorated rapidly. She experienced multiple seizures and seemed to suffer from a general state of confusion. One evening she walked slowly to the foot of the bed, quietly lay down and stopped breathing. What a way to go!

Now we are living with dog number four. Her name is Chancy. And she is really smart. Kathy tells me she is the best one yet. I tend to agree. But I still think dogs were meant to live outside.