A Dog’s Life

There used to always be dogs, lots of dogs, in  the lives of the Garrisons, and we boys, who all wanted to be scientists, used to experiment on them, all in the name of science, you understand.

Now, old "Pamp" and ole "Jim" had been around for ages untold, and lived at Grandpa's house. He claimed they were his, but they were so independent, I don't think they were owned by anyone.

They would take it upon themselves to go hunt and just leave. You could coax, holler, or cuss at 'em, but to no avail. Somewhere there must be a fox that needed chasing, and they'd go do it. Grandpa said that every time they chased this one ole fox, he would go over to Uncle "Pet" Garrison's place so he could cross the road in a culvert so as not to be seen.

The dogs were smart though, and they wised up to this trick. After they jumped the fox, ole Jim would leave old Pamp to run the fox. He would head straight for that culvert and wait for the fox to come running through. When the fox appeared, ole Jim would take up the chase and ole Pamp would wait for the return.

We boys figured that maybe if we charged up one of those ole dogs, they'd catch that ole fox and put an end to the above story. We got a long piece of copper wire that was pretty stiff, and went looking for a dog. Well, we couldn't catch ole Pamp, so we settled on ole Jim because we could catch him. He wasn't smarter than us. Starting at the base of his tail, we wound that wire round and round his tail until we got to the tip. We bent a hook in the rest of the wire and dropped that hook over my daddy's electric fence.

Well sir, that sure charged up that Jim. He really put'er in high gear, and he howled a good bit also. He was fast alright, but pretty dumb, too. Instead of running away from that fence, he ran right down it. I mean he pulled that electric fence wire right off the posts all down one side of the field. When he came to the corner, he didn't stop for nothing. Neither did he make that corner. He kept right on running until the copper wire was stripped off his tail, and he was free. You could tell he was happy to be free because he was howling all the time he was rushing out of hearing.

Grandpa never did figure out how a dog could skin up his tail so bad while fox hunting. We didn't volunteer to talk either.

We proved that the dogs sure could run faster if they was charged up a little, but how do you do that when you're in the woods, especially when you couldn't catch a dog anymore.

You notice that I've used "we" in this narration? There wasn't no "we" left when my dad got home found his fence all ripped down and that charger going "whomp-de-whomp." We had disappeared and there was only I left. After making up a meaningful alibi about his ole fence, we got on with "it" and "I" put the dad-blamed (no pun intended, Dad) fence back up.

More dogs… Since ole Pamp and Jim were getting old and sorter long in the tooth, I guess Grandpa thought he needed to get a young dog, so the ole dogs could teach him how to run a fox before they went to the happy hunting grounds in the sky. Anyway, he brought home a big ole Walker hound-looking thing that he called Archie. Now, Archie was hardly more than a puppy, but he was big. I mean big!

Well, one day, us boys decided to go rabbit hunting. Ralph was to use Dad's bolt action 22, and I had Dad’s semi-automatic 22. Ralph could shoot like anything with that 22, but when I unlimbered my 22 on a rabbit I was likely to empty the dern thing before and if I got my rabbit. I don't know what Polly carried, but Richard had a single-barrel 20 gauge shotgun. He liked the firepower I had and I liked the wide pattern his shotgun threw, so we swapped. On this particular hunt, we were to hunt from my house through the woods behind Richard's house and on to Grandma's house where we were sure to get cornbread and coffee as refreshment. We loaded up and went hunting. We shot at a few rabbits, but I don't think we even haired one.

When we got to Grandpa's house, we all leaned our weapons up against a big ole oak tree that grew just outside the picket fence. Now Grandpa had a picket fence all around his house to keep out the varmints and cows, I guess.

Two pickets in the center of the side gate had been broken off at some time or other. I don't know if it was done on purpose or not, but when Pamp and Jim decided to go chase a fox it was their exit to the world. But, Archie, being young, inexperienced and clumsy, hadn't at that time mastered that act yet. What he'd do is wait at that gate, and the minute someone opened it, even a crack, he was out and gone.

Well, that happened to us. One of us cracked that gate and ole Archie was out and running. We hollered and we screamed, but ole Arch paid no attention. In the excitement, I guess ole Richard forgot. He grabbed his 20 gauge, yelled, "Come back here, Dog, or I'll shoot you." Then he cut down on ole Archie. I don’t know who was more surprised—Richard or Archie. None of us had emptied our guns, and ole Richard just wasted one of my shells. Ole Archie heeded though!

Ole Archie made a pass around that ten acre clearing and then a short pass through a wooded section, tore back to the house, jumped through the gap in that gate, and skidded under the house.

Meanwhile Grandpa had come out to see who and what was shooting because he had no idea we was on the place. We told him we were rabbit hunting, and he went and got in his swing.

He was sitting there when ole Archie decided he'd had enough freedom and sailed over that gate. Grand looked surprised and said, "Hmmp, wonder what got into him. He never could do that before."

We boys hurried on in the house for cornbread and coffee. It was good, but not as good as Aunt Annie's. Aunt Annie put sugar in hers.

Another dog story… Now that ole Archie had learned how to get out of the yard, we began to see him at our house and at Richard's house. He was easy to catch so we young scientists could continue our experiments into dog reactions, etc.

One day, we found a yellow jacket nest behind Aunt Carrie's house. Well, we didn't exactly find it—they found us!! Right where we landed when we practiced our parachute landings out of a tree was this yellow jackets nest. We didn't know it at the time, but we sure found out in a hurry. It seems they took offense to parachute troops landing where they were domiciled. After we were stung once or twice, we took offense, too. We'd stand off aways and lob sticks and mud at them, and they'd swarm around as mad as hornets. Some one wondered what their reactions would be if something not as smart as us, say a poor, dumb beast, wandered in. Would they react the same? Aha!

We took off for Aunt Carrie's house. There were plenty of cold biscuits on the back of the stove, so we copped a shirt full—all in the name of science, you know. But we couldn't find a poor, dumb beast—only to have old Archie come plodding up, smelling at our shirts. We trolled him off to that yellow jackets nest for our experiment. When we started throwing chunks and mud at that nest, ole Archie was kinda hard to hold. He liked Aunt Carrie's biscuits as much as we did, so we kept feeding him little bits. We had to be careful and not feed him so much he wouldn't eat anymore and spoil our test.

When we got them yellow jackets all stirred up and mad again, we started throwing a biscuit trail right up to the hole. Ole Archie must've thought it was his lucky day. Here we were giving him all of Aunt Carrie's biscuits—and not eating a one. He was gobbling them up one by one and getting closer and closer to that nest. We couldn't chuck any more for fear of hitting Archie, and we were beginning to get worried ole Archie was gonna get off scot-free, and with a belly full of our biscuits besides.

We needn't have worried though. Them yellow jackets came through with flying fury. At first, ole Archie would twitch and quiver, then pick up a paw and shake it, but one of them yellow devils must have got him right on the nose or eye or somewheres tender, because he reared up, fell over backwards, howling all the time. He jumped up and took off howling and yipping through the woods for Grandpa's house.

Which goes to prove that yellow jackets are mean devils, and they'll attack a dumb ole beast as quickly as  young scientists. I wonder why that dog didn't swell up like we did?                                                                                                                   

The preceding article is reprinted by permission, and is one of many included in A Gathering of Garrisons, and the Ancestors, Family and Descendants of Lot Garrison and Margaret Erwin, a 722-page book written by Sylvia Kelly Smith, a descendant of Lot Garrison and Margaret Erwin.

A copy of the book may be purchased direct from the author. The cost is $55.00, which includes postage. Send your check to:

Sylvia K. Smith

105 Fleetwood

Franklinton, LA 70368