Whitesburg KY

‘Old dogs and watermelon wine’

Points East

One of Tom T. Hall’s greatest hits on the country music scene was a song called “Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine”.

“There ain’t three things that’s worth a solitary dime but old dogs and children and watermelon wine.”

I’m still skeptical that there is such a thing as watermelon wine. At least I’ve never been offered a taste, but I do know something about old dogs and children and the affection they develop for one another.

Twice, since I’ve lived here on Charlie Brown Road, I have seen little girls sort of herding old graymuzzled dogs along the road as they rode their bikes along and made sure that the pooch didn’t get hit by a car. And when he or she of the canine persuasion got tired, they would get off their bikes and offer some encouragement and pretty soon, they’d all be off up or down the road again no matter how laboriously the dog was panting.

This is called love and it would be impossible to say who was loving it more. The kids certainly knew that the best thing they could do for their favorite pet was get him or her some exercise. And the old dog, instead of lying down and dying in his sleep, is far more than willing to happily, however stiffly, walk along with the only ones who ever loved him.

Twice our kids have watched dogs grow old and die. First old Patch who came to Kentucky from New Jersey, having been born when our youngest son was whelped himself, and later Blue, who saw Jennifer, Genny and Chris through adolescence, were gentle guardians and mindful of the kids at play and they would take all manner of seeming abuse when the kids wrestled them around the yard.

Fairly big dogs were Patch and Blue — in the 50 plus pound range — but the more they were ridden and pounded and tugged upon the more they loved it. And woe be to anybody, including yours truly, who so much as raised a hand or voice to the kids. On many occasions I’ve had to endure snarls and growls for the merest of chastising.

So we have well marked graves for Patch and Blue but after a time they’ve become emotionally forgotten by the kids and the memories are only recalled when we pull out old pictures or post one from time to time as wallpaper on our computer monitors. Carol, now 40, will still well up when she sees a particularly attentive shot of Patch and Chris will sit at stare at a particularly good shot of Blue.

We now have a steadily growing older chocolate Lab who is only happy when John and Celeste Edwards bring their three 1- through 8-year-old girls on the place and the more they wrestle him and ride him and make him fetch whatever it is they want to throw the happier he is. And believe me, Johnna and Alyssia can put him through his paces for hours on end. (I have a superstition about mentioning pets’ names in the paper, but you get the picture.)

Last Sunday evening, late in the day, he was pacing back and forth across the lawn figuring that the Edwards crowd might arrive at any minute but it was not meant to be. So he heaved himself up against my feet at the front porch swing and sighed.

And I thought to myself that he is getting to be an old dog and I love the children as much as he does. And then I started wondering just how does watermelon wine actually taste? If anybody is making some, I’d like to take a swig.

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