Those of you who read this from time to time know I was born on a ranch, grew up in a small town and spent 55 years editing and publishing small town weekly newspapers.
When we retired, we opted for a country house on a Central Texas riverbank with 2.5 acres of yard and 735 feet of river frontage and within weeks became first owner and master, then devotee and follower to The Puppy.
Soon after we moved, in late May 2007, this little ragamuffin, 3-month-old puppy appeared at our gate while I was working in the yard. Someone dumped the little black and white dog, on our country lane. He approached our gate, pink tongue sticking out and tail going “to beat 60.” I figured Life Mate wanted another dog, since a few years earlier her beloved Little Dolly had, at age 14, wandered off and never came back.
So, in came The Puppy, who was dubbed Sawyer because we lived on a riverbank and what else would you name a river vagabond except after a famous river vagabond — Tom Sawyer.
Of course, he quickly wormed his way into our hearts. His high level of intelligence and a touch of mischief led to other nicknames.
His first new title came about because of his tendency to wildly gallop through the house at breakneck speed for a short-legged dog, who we determined finally, with the help of a couple of breeder-dog experts and the Internet, is a Tibetan Terrier. We began to call him “The Little Wild Dog (TLWD).” Once we jumped the river into Louisiana that translated into “Le Pup Savage.”
When we began to try to teach him to play “fetch,” he refused to give up the ball and HE turned the game into “Keep Away.” That’s when other names began to come into use.
Some mischievous moves brought on the label “Little Pooty Dog,” and our spoiling attitude earned him the title, “The Perfect Precious Puppy.”
While I’ve always loved dogs, and have had a number throughout my life, I’ve never ascribed to the notion dogs could get on furniture and CERTAINLY could NOT sleep in the same bed as their masters. We knew he had hair rather than fur and didn’t shed. That became rationalization for: “well, he can get on the furniture.”
Then, when it was proven he had no odor, we determined he could get on our bed once in a while, especially since he’d proven to be so snuggly. That and our growing affection led to more freedom. Okay, we bought a king size bed so there’s room for him.
Sawyer manages to choke down dog food, the good stuff (expensive), but he prefers what we eat. So, he gets slivers of roast beef, turkey, chicken or hamburger meat crumbled over the Science Diet. And, the little black and white bundle has gained some weight. So The Mom declared, “Y’all need to take a walk every day the weather allows.” (Hmmm, I thought, unfortunately that’s at least five days a week.)
What began as moderate dread has turned into a routine of amusement, watching this smart (sometimes too much for his own good) little animal as he trots, walks, creeps and lunges in whatever way the moment calls for in the completion our appointed rounds.
Sawyer is drawn, in no particular order, by clover clumps, pecans, small twigs, trash piles, garbage cans, ant beds, cut tree limbs for haul off, other dogs and cats, the smells-trail-leavings of other animals, mail boxes posts, trees and so on, ad infinitum.
And so it goes, after 50 plus years of hard work, I am learning from Sawyer to eat the good stuff, play with abandon, and to stop and smell the trash piles, er uh, flowers. Such is life.
WILLIS WEBB is a retired community newspaper editor and publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.