Buck was an Anatolian cross, a big guy with a huge loving heart and an ingrained protective device for us kids. We all loved him more than any pet we had ever had. Between him and our big German Sheppard we called Wolfe, we were protected. The coyotes are howling in the dark distance, hungry and ready to steal what ever is the easiest. Those two together could send off a pack of coyotes in a hurry. Every year my dad would order 100 baby chickens. Strange, I can remember them coming in at the post office. I remember how cute they all were, all different colors and grew into different sizes. Black Minorca’s would lay a large white egg, while the Dominique’s and big breasted Cornish grew larger. The Rhode Island Reds were the prettiest, especially when they were crossed with the spotted Dominique’s. Growing up they all became our pets and we hated to think of what they were raised for, but we all knew, it was a way of life. Without the animals we raised, we may have starved to death. We always had pigs, chickens and often rabbits that dad would raise for meat. We usually had a summer garden that was canned when it was ready. Back to my friends Buck and Wolfe. Dogs were truly our best friends. They were trained to keep the pigs in the hot wire fences. I can see them making their rounds completely around the farm several times a day, never to be told. Katy bar the door for the one that got out though, the fight was on and the pigs usually lost. More than one pig was injured by our dogs. Occasionally one had to be put down due to injuries. They were never malicious to people and were very behaved. Buck with his long, white fur that could almost be brushed was kind and loved to be petted. Wolfe with his brown and back fur that was easily identified anywhere. They were farm dogs, working dogs and friends, they did their job well. I suppose it was on a Sunday that we went to visit my grandmother and grandfather in Roaring Springs. Mom was always ready and happy to be with her mom and dad, so were we. Dad would usually have a big day with all the brother in laws. There were always at least half a dozen of them. The Sunday draws near closing and mom and her sisters tidy up my grandma’s little house and we all pile in our old car. As said before, no air conditioning, all the windows down and me calling back glass seat, if I was fast enough to beat Buddy to it. I didn’t know that going home that day would be one of the saddest of my childhood. After about an hours drive we made it home to the little farm, down the old dirt road. Dads work didn’t seem to ever be done, so as soon as we were home he would begin checking on the animals. He made sure they had water and walked the fence to remove any debris that might have blown up against the hot-wire fence and short it out. All the while Buck and Wolfe making every step. All was well until dad went to check on his chickens. He had a nice chicken coop built for them, one that could withstand coyotes with Buck and Wolfes help. Setting under our shaded play area, we see dad approaching quickly with a snarl, cursing and extremely distressed. First in his own way, let me say he loved Buck and Wolfe too, he’s the one that got them for us and we had had them for years. Anyway, what dad was doing was coming to the house to retrieve his 22 rifle. While we had been gone that day, the dogs had broken in dad’s chicken coop and killed all but one of dad’s chickens. 99 of 100 chickens were killed that day by our playful friends. The one chicken that was spared was quickly snuffed out by dad catching it and ringing its neck and throwing it across the ground. They were all dead. They were not eaten. All I remember was looking at the hole in the chicken wire the dogs had torn through, finding only brown and black hair, no evidence of a white strand anywhere. It was Wolfe, our German Sheppard that had gotten into the chicken house and had a field day of fury, displaying a scene of mass murder. On close inspection of Wolfe, there were places that he had hair missing, hair that was found clung to the wire of the chicken pen. I can still see my dad with the 22 rifle. Wolfe had not made it all the way to the house when dad called him when a shell ripped from the rifle, hitting Wolfe in the front leg. I can see him taking off as a streak of lightening, making it about 500 yards before another round was sounded and he fell. We were devastated, even more so that we were made to watch this extracurricular activity of how to prevent your food from being taken from you. After walking out and being satisfied that Wolfe was dead, my older brother, I believe Kenneth took off his collar, we couldn’t hold back our tears and our plea’s of remorse and how we would make it all better if he just wouldn’t kill Buck went unheard. Buck was a friend, he was a person, so soft, meek and loyal. We kept telling daddy that there was no white hair found in the chicken coop anywhere, begging, pleading through blurry eyes and breathless begs for him to please spare our dog. Buck was so obedient that he would come every time he was called, it didn’t matter how far away he was. He was not feared of us, because he had never been abused, he was all loved. If you can stand to continue reading my therapy session, I can tell you that daddy called Buck. He had been resting at the entrance under the house where it was cool, his favorite place. Daddy knew where he would be. I have to say I loved my daddy now, before I say I hated what he did. He called our friend Buck, Buck came right up to my dad, his pink tongue half way out of his mouth, showing the black outline of his lips, his eyes bright and alive. We were crying, we were witnessing trauma and it still lingers with me today. “Buck come here”, dad said. Buck gets up, his long white tail wagging, his stately tall body obeying the command. Dad grabs him by the top of his thick, leather collar and holds it for just a second, as if he was giving it a second thought. We held our breath in hopes and prayer as we hear a single shot go off. Dad had shot our Buck in the back of the head and in an instance, he was still, his large frame unable to drag us around or take a ride any longer. Our orders were given to go and bury the dogs. They were big and we weren’t able to carry them. So, to make a memory worse, we lifted Buck into our little, broken down wagon with the warped wheels, his bright red blood still dripping. Fighting back tears, Rodney, me, Buddy and Kenneth pulled the old wagon toward the old well house. Kenneth began digging a deep hole, Buddy and I tried to help as much as we could. I wished it had been a proper ceremony rather than digging a hole and throwing one of our best friends in and covering him with dirt. After we had finished with Buck, we gathered to where Wolfe had laid for a good 2 hours or so before we could get to him. He was stiffer than Buck, not as big, but beautiful just the same. Kenneth carried him. I was as mad at Wolfe as I was in love with him for doing what he had done. It gook a long time to adapt to farm life without those two. We kept their large, thick collars for a long time. One of the older boys had scarred their names into the collars. After they were gone, no other dog ever measured up, except one, nearly! Her name was Gal. She made a good pig dog and the pigs respected every round she made. She wasn’t quite as nice to look at, sandy brown, not very pretty and not as loving either. Perhaps we wouldn’t let it be so. I have forgiven many people for many things and I forgive my dad for what he did. I knew we were poor and a lot of energy and money had gone in to those chickens. They had just started laying and getting ready to start eating. Dad had a rage that day, one we had seen before, one that finally faded in later years. I waited for a long time, but no apology ever came. I remember those big ole boys as if yesterday. They followed us through the forest, up the shelter-belt, down the ravines and up the rows as we chopped the cotton. I have a memory box in my heart and mind where the good things go, they are there. I open the old box once in a while and see them with their sparkling eyes and eagerness to please. It was a short ride, but they took us lots of places.
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