Thanksgiving Dogs and Turkeys

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You will have to whip this dog as he has run away with my turkey so I can not have any thanks-giving dinner. if he should bring it to you eat a lot for me with love. From Aunt Grace

Poor Harvard Starkweather. Not only did he have quite a name to carry through life but also an interesting hungry Aunt named Grace (of all things!) writing him notes telling him to whip a dog!

I once had a dog who carried me a turkey from the field to the back door. He was a stray dog, a happy one we’d named Tramp. Tramp was a large bloodhound mixed-breed mutt of a dark black color, with a lighter golden mask like a raccoon. The turkey dangled from his mouth as he stood at the glass door and smiled at me, wagging his tail in the late afternoon autumn sunlight. The turkey looked horrible, really. But Tramp was very proud.

Did he hunt and kill it himself for our Thanksgiving table? I don’t know. He may have stolen it from a hunter before it was collected. I told Tramp he should enjoy the turkey himself, and so he must have, for I never saw it again.

I have an idea that Tramp may have shared his wild turkey dinner, though – for there was a little girl dog who lived across the street over the hill a piece at the bedraggled farm of a horse-trader. Benny was, in the true sense of the word  (the old-fashioned sense of the word) a horse-trader – and often enough both his dogs and horses would run free to care for themselves if they weren’t bringing him in any money that day (and horses and dogs so often don’t!).

I’d knocked on Bennie’s door to find out if the little girl dog was his, and he did claim her, but said she wandered around a lot and he couldn’t keep track of her. Her name was Bluegirl, and she was the darlingest little blue-heeler you can imagine. Her ancestors were herding dogs, and she had the impetus within her to be the same . . . dashing round your feet she would leap and cuddle and feint trying in all her ten inches of tallness to take charge in a very foolish-looking way. When you’d lean down towards her though, her bossiness dropped like a fat apple from an old tired tree and in a sudden instant she’d flop sideways, then over, and back and forth squiggling looking for a tummy rub – and when she’d get it she  became a gleeful squiggling machine making little squeaky doggy noises with tiny slurpy pants in-between it all.

Bluegirl loved Tramp, and he tolerated her. He’d lay on his side on the back deck to relax and she’d slide herself right in next to his tummy, and if she were a cat her purr would have deafened the world she was so happy!

One day there were loud barks in the front yard near the pond and over the wide green stretch of grass I saw her surrounded by three huge dogs, all running and barking as if it were . . well, the closest thing that comes to mind at the moment is a football game, but the dogs hadn’t painted their faces bright colors in this case.

It turned out that Bluegirl had not been ‘fixed’. That was apparently something Horse-Trader Bennie hadn’t done. I got her into the house (in the vernacular this is called ‘putting her up’) I put her up and called Bennie on the phone and talked to him for a while. At the end of the conversation he said he wouldn’t mind if I took her to the vet to have this taken care of – and so it was.

She lived with us for about a year, then disappeared one day. I called Bennie to see if she’d been over at his place. He told me she’d been by and that he’d sold her to his mother-in-law (who lived in Florida) who wanted a little dog who wouldn’t be much trouble.

So, to Bluegirl and Tramp – Happy Thanksgiving! You were dear parts of our lives, and I send you both big tummy-rubs.

Little “Buddy’ in this video looks quite a bit like Bluegirl.


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