When Nicholas Sparks wrote, “Every great love starts with a great story,” I am pretty sure he was not talking about me and my dog, SH, but his quote describes our love story perfectly.
In February 2011, I started noticing at night, there was an odd barking around my house. Odd in that it wasn’t the usual sound of coyotes yipping and howling. It was a deep, lonely bark that only seemed to start after I had gotten into a nice, deep REM sleep.
As the nights went on, this unique, mournful bark was etched in my mind and on my last nerve. Then, as fate would have it, my husband, Will, and I arrived home late one Saturday night after an evening out only to be greeted by a skinny, smiling dog. I have never seen a dog smile before or since, but SH does. He was so skinny that Will put him inside our backyard fence and fed him some leftovers before we went to bed.
Because we live in the country, and because there are a lot of heartless people in the world, we often have dumped dogs wander up to our house. They usually come and then go, but this little guy came and stayed, which scared me a little. The last thing I said before we went to bed that fateful night was, “We are not keeping that dog.”
The next day, my children, who were still young at the time, woke up squealing with delight at the sight of a dog in the yard. They went straight to work fattening him up, sharing bits of their breakfast or getting him “just a little” cheese. They oohed and ahhed over him and, with all the subtlety of a game show host, pointed out how well-behaved and smart he was.
I just kept repeating my mantra “We are not keeping that dog.” To prove how serious I was, I took a very flattering picture of him and posted it to Facebook, hoping against hope that he was a runaway. I got several messages from people who were just sure that he was their long lost pooch.
Each person who came out to look at him concluded the same thing – he was not their dog. This went on for a couple of weeks, and although I kept up my strong exterior of opposition to keeping the dog we now call SH, inside I could feel myself caving.
We were out for a stroll in the yard one fateful evening when he must have sensed that I was getting soft. In true SH fashion, he made the most of the opportunity by putting his hunting prowess on full display, making quick work of a very big water moccasin that had taken up residence in one of my flower beds. It was at that barefoot-in-the-grass moment that I knew he was here to stay.
I am absolutely sure all of your dogs are well-mannered, smart and good-looking, but trust me when I tell you that SH is, without question, the best dog that has ever lived. He is a dutiful watchdog who barks ferociously when anyone comes down our driveway, but he also melts into a puddle of love as soon as anyone approaches him. He has the heart of a herder, and when the cowboys come to work our cattle, he wishes he were a cow dog.
He and I have walked hundreds of miles up and down the county roads near my house, picking gallons of dewberries together and when something is weighing heavy on my heart, no one is a better listener than SH. Throughout the years, he has earned a special spot in my heart. I love that guy, and his home is now and always will be with me.
One of our favorite things to do together is to pick dewberries. Although SH has proven himself a skilled snake killer, I don’t want to tempt fate, so we load up in the UTV and ride the fence lines, listening to music and picking from the relative safety of the vehicle.
SH loves a little berry snack, so sometimes, our harvest is a little light but not this year. Thanks to recent rains, we had a bumper crop and my purple fingers and expanded waistline are a testament to their deliciousness.
A few weeks ago, after a long afternoon of berry picking, SH and I whipped up a fresh, hot cobbler. If you don’t have any dewberries handy, any fruit will work in this quick, easy and tasty dessert.