Sure do hope you’ll be feeling better by the time you get this letter. Your mom told me that your old friend Thane had died and that you were really sad. A good faithful old dog is special and I know you will miss him. I know because I have had some special animal friends too and I haven’t forgotten them, even though I am getting to be an old cowboy. I’ve known some horses, cows, dogs, billy goats, and a catfish or two. Sometimes it’s fun to remember stories about them-that way even when they get old or get hurt and die, they are never really gone.
My very favorite animal friend was a big black dog that came to live with us when I still lived at Oma and Gran Gran’s old home ranch, where Great Uncle David lives now. Early one morning Gran was sitting on the front porch drinking coffee and saw this dog slowly trotting up the road, now and then stopping to sniff out a trail or just to look around, as if he were lost and didn’t know his way home. Gran whistled to the dog and talked quietly to him and asked what his name was and where he was going. That big dog just sat down in front of Gran and, in dog language, told Gran that his name was Blackie and that he was trying to find his way home, but he was so tired and hungry that he stopped at our ranch to see if he might have some breakfast.
Gran told Blackie that he thought he could have some dog chow and then he should meet a certain young cowboy that he called Jimbo. I met Blackie where my Dad had tied him next to the huge old ash tree. The dog raised up and stood watching me and as I walked up to him, his pointed ears perked up and his big yellow eyes looked on mine. The hackles rose a little on his shoulders as he sniffed my hand, but when I rubbed his head and scratched his ear he relaxed, and shook every bit of himself starting at his nose and ending up with the tip of his tail. Then he sat down, thumped his tail a time or two, grinned at me with his special dog smile and asked me, “What’s our job gonna be today?”
This is how Old Blackie greeted me about every time we saw each other for the next few years, though looking back over the years, it was more like, “What are we gonna get ourselves into next?”
Xander, you should write down stories of your favorite times with Thane. Maybe I’ll write up some of Pa Pa’s adventures with Old Blackie. That way those animal friends will always be a part of who we are.
Pa Pa, aka James Monroe, is my dad and an old cowboy. When he isn’t bulldozing cedar trees or chasing cows, he occasionally sits down to write down one of his adventures about growing up and living in the Dry Frio Canyon of South Texas.