5

Givens/Dog/5

The Tale of a Dog's Tail

Pa bought the farm back in 1947 when I was five years old. It was a purchase they made from Pa's uncle who had decided at the age of seventy five that he was just a mite too old to be trudging up a skinny plank with a wheelbarrow full of cow dung.

The deal was struck and Pa, having one of his more ambitious moments, was sure that he was going to be able to straighten things out and become one of them there gentlemen farmers. I guess he didn't take into consideration the amount of labour that was going to be involved.

The farm came with a miss matched team of horses, and an old horse that was near blind, an old dump rake for raking hay and an old steel wheeled wagon, two cows, one for milking and one for eating, a dozen chickens and a old sow with a small litter of suckling pigs, an empty hay loft and very little straw in the other mow. Things were in a pretty drastic state as far as those hay munching critters in the lower barn were concerned. Fortunately there was a fair bit of grain in the granary so it looked promising for Sunday dinners as the chickens would be well fed. As it turned out, we were able to turn the cows out to pasture for the summer months and were able to toss the old sow some of the grain and there was plenty of water in the well.

Maw kept a close eye on that there well as there was an old black and white stray dog that had taken a fancy to lifting his leg on it. No one seemed to know where this animal came from and no one seemed to know as to where it went once Maw got her hands on it. I still remember that day.

She made herself up a lasso and hid inside the summer kitchen door, when that nasty beast came tip toeing up on the veranda and was about to lift its leg Maw slipped that noose over its head as neat as could be. She pulled it up tight to the veranda post and I won't repeat the words she had for it as she let out a very satisfied sigh. With her head held high she slowly made her way out to the tool shed and fetched herself a can of turpentine. She scrounged around in the garbage bucket and found herself some old tin cans. With the point of the butcher knife, she poked a hole in the end of each and retrieved a long string from a drawer in the kitchen and strung them together. Picking up a rag, she proceeded out to where the enemy was tied and securely tied the string of cans to that dog's tail, then with the rag soaked with the turpentine, she lifted its tail and applied a generous application to that small orifice that gives one so much relief after a large meal. Well that dog started snapping and growling like a mad wild cat. Maw went in the house and returned carrying a butcher knife. Taking the butcher knife, she cut the rope as the dog wouldn't let her close enough to untie it.

By this time, most of the family had congregated on the veranda to see what in the world all the racket was about. Everyone stood there watching as that poor wretched animal zoomed out of sight like a bouncing ball; three leaps and a squat as it dragged its flaming rectum across the ground trying to rid itself of that burning turpentine. It would no more then get down to the ground and the cans would scare the bejeebers out of it and it would take three more leaps.

As I said before, it seems no one knows where that dog did get to, but one thing for sure, I know for a fact that it never again lifted its leg upon our well, and Maw could be heard singing quite happily for the rest of the day.

Well that is the way things went for the first while, just zigging and zagging from one thing to another with periods of calm and periods of chaos.

It may sound like there wasn't much love or kindness in our home, but that is not exactly true. There were times late in the evening when we would gather about the old wood stove and Maw would read us stories, or tell us stories about when she was a little girl that added to the warmth of the old wood stove. It wouldn't have been home with out her tucking us in under the heavy wool blankets and down filled comforters and kissing us good night.