Whitesburg KY
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Dogs, a herd of deer and persimmons




Eleven years ago I somehow or another got talked into adopting three pups from two different people and I wondered why in the world we needed three dogs, but I have come to accept the answer to that question. It is because these little guys, a sheltie, a red beagle and a tri-colored beagle add so much to our enjoyment of life.

When the man brought me the beagles to adopt they had spent their early months in a tiny little dog run outside an apartment house in a nearby city, unable to hunt or even to get out of their own excrement. They smelled so bad I almost did not take them, but then I felt so sorry for them I relented and brought them home in the trunk of my car with the trunk lid up so the two pups in that carrying cage would not suffocate and hoping maybe some of the stink would leave them.

The other dog we acquired soon after when someone dumped his mother at a friend’s house and she immediately gave birth to five pups. This man managed to give four of the pups away to others and begged me to take the last one. He agreed to keep the mother; had her spayed and she lived many years under his loving care.

Now we had the third dog, a male, along with two female beagles and so you know the problems we faced there. The first thing we did was have all three of them admitted to the local vet’s hospital area and erased the specter of unwanted pups. By this time, too, the beagles had been able to run around on our 32 acres in the fresh grass and sun and had been able to swim in the pond and the little creek that runs behind our house. They smelled like something we might want to keep and now I’m glad we did. They just add so much enjoyment to our lives and they each have completely distinct personalities.

The red beagle, which my husband named Goldie because of her nearly golden eyes, is the thinker of the bunch. You can ask her something and she will respond with a two-syllable answer. She will do that twice. If you ask her a third time she will give you the strangest look and walk off. You just know she is telling you to just shut up. She has answered you twice already. Sometimes she will wrinkle her brow when you ask her something just like she is trying to decide how to respond.

The tri-colored beagle, Beau, is kind of dumb actually, but if any of us had been hunters and let her out in the field to be shot over, she might have made a decent rabbit dog. But now, at 11- years-old, all three of the dogs are growing gray on their muzzles and Beau has trouble with arthritis in her hips.

All three of the dogs dislike having large birds like geese, turkeys and crows land in their yard so they are always chasing them off. They also have an on-going war with the deer. The third dog, Jake, thinks the deer are his to herd around and spends his entire life patrolling around the house looking for them. If he sees one he immediately gives chase.

Now these deer are not stupid. They have lived around us long enough to know that the dogs are too old to catch them and we are not going to shoot them. The dogs even know they cannot catch the deer, but they continue to give chase.

Outside my kitchen sink window there is a huge persimmon tree at the edge of what I call the “wood lot” that is absolutely pink with the ripening fruit which the deer love to eat. I am beginning to think they can hear them fall or see them drop or something. The deer keep the ground cleaned up for us by eating these sweet treats.

Several times each day you can see the deer come trotting quickly out of the wooded area to this tree and start eating these persimmons. Jake will see them on his rounds and give chase. I watched them as the deer stood and watched Jake until the two could almost have touched noses before it took three bounds away from Jake and then stopped.

Jake gave up the chase and sauntered up by the garden, looking back to see if the deer was going to go on into the woods. It did not, so he gave chase again. The deer went into one opening into the woods but I could still see its white tail sticking up. As soon as Jake turned his back and left the deer was right back under that persimmon tree.

Don’t anyone ask me if they can come and hunt the deer. I wouldn’t have one killed for the world. They are too much fun to watch and chasing them is about all the exercise my three little dogs get.

Helen Ayers is a Letcher County native now living in Freetown, Indiana. She may be reached by e-mail at hayers7256@yahoo.com.


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