On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 31, 2021:

This column is dedicated to Judge Wayne Wolfe who passed away early last Thursday morning. I didn’t know him very well, but I knew him well enough to know that he was a man who loved the Lord, his church, his family, and Rains County. The only animals I saw on his Facebook page were cattle, so a story about a dog might not be his favorite, but maybe he would relate to Dobby, a character from the Harry Potter stories who was willing to give his life in the service of those he loved. It’s true that I didn’t know a lot about Judge Wolfe, but this Facebook post from someone who knew him well says all that needs to be said: Uncle Wayne made doing the right thing seem easy even it wasn’t.


Kent and Stella are visiting his family this week, so if you’re a regular reader, you know what that means. David and I are staying with Spike, the Great Pyrenees who chose Kent and Stella several years ago to be his family. Shortly after his arrival, we became Spike’s official dog sitters when his family travels, and now we’re more like a step family to him.

We’ve been through a lot as he grew from a willful, energetic puppy who required a strong leash and quick hands to control his wandering ways. But like most of us, Spike has become a bit heavier, a bit more settled, and a lot more fond of the air conditioning than of running in the fields. When Stella contacted me earlier this year to ask us to save this week, we expected to spend a restful week – except for the part where he stands at the window and barks at the coyotes at 3:00 am. But things have become a little more complicated since then.

A couple of months ago, another canine orphan showed up at the ranch. Coincidentally, he’s a blond Great Pyrenees/Lab, and he’s about the same age Spike was when he showed up. Of course, everyone’s first reaction was that the ranch offers plenty of running room for two dogs, but Stella said the new pup was too playful with the cows, and she was afraid he would get himself killed. Since then, she has asked every friend she has if they want a dog and called every no-kill shelter within several counties with no success. So David and I will have two four-legged babies to play with this time around.

Stella invited us to lunch after church on Sunday to meet the newcomer and to become familiar with the new routines. We arrived at the house first and were greeted at the car by a friendly, half-grown fur baby who asked to be petted and licked our hands in return. He tried to follow us into the house but was fairly easy to convince that wasn’t a good idea.

We had a great visit over a delicious lunch, and then it was time to get down to business. Stella showed me where the dog and puppy foods are kept and which dog gets how much in which bowls. We visited the newcomer on the patio where he was napping away the mid-day heat. She had a handful of mini-dog biscuits, and she ran him through his repertoire of obedience training lessons. It was a short run – sit. He also lies down if she puts the biscuit on the ground, and he comes if he sees a treat in her hand. His understanding of stay still needs a lot of work.

“He doesn’t come in the house or the barn because he chews on things,” she explained. “He howls if we tether him, so he basically runs free and takes his chances with the coyotes. He and Spike aren’t allowed to run free at the same time because they always end up a mess. They’re favorite game is to run in the woods, cool off in the pond, and then wrestle playfully in the sand near the house.”

While all this was going on, Kent went to the barn to check on Spike. He had managed to clean himself up from his latest session of mudding, so he was brought into the house to say hello. He nuzzled David and me and indicated he was ready for a week of being spoiled. As David and I prepared to head for home, I had one more question.

“You told me what you named the newbie, but I don’t remember,” I said.

“It’s not a permanent name. His real family can call him whatever they want. But one day he looked at me with his ears straight out from the side of his head, and he reminded me of Dobby.”

Dobby is the house elf from the Harry Potter saga. He warned Harry of an evil plot and Harry, in turn, freed him from his malicious masters. In a later movie, he saved Harry and friends but lost his life in the process.

Whether or not Dobby lives up to his name remains to be seen, and whether or not we have a restful week is anyone’s guess. If we have a quiet few days, you probably won’t hear any more about Dobby. But if he provides some of the same adventures we had with Spike, there will probably be another column.



Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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