The Special Ones 


I’ve always laughed at city folks and their duded up dogs and fully clothed cats but I can relate to them on some level. I can even sort of understand the bleeding hearts trying to save the so-called “wild” horses”, even though many of them carry the brand of their previous owner. I can relate to these animal lovers because I am one. We all have our favorites and they come in all shapes, sizes and species. Here are some of mine:

Cindy- The best dog I ever had. She was a German Shorthair and there wasn’t a mean bone in her body, although there was a broken one. To this day I can vividly remember sitting with her under an orange tree after she got hit by a car. My alcoholic father wouldn’t let us “waste” good money by taking her to a vet even though I offered to drain my piggy bank to pay for it. I hated him for it but Cindy, who walked on three legs for the rest of her life, true to form, never showed any enduring animosity.

Cindy was named after my brother’s girlfriend, it’s quite an honor really, although I’m not sure the girlfriend fully appreciated it. Sweethearts come and go but Cindy loyally stayed with us to the end. She learned all the tricks and greeted all visitors with her paw extended to “shake hands.” One time all the little bunnies in my rabbit feedlot escaped and Cindy retrieved every one in her soft mouth with nary a scratch on any of them. She waited for me by the back door every morning to feed my animals and every day after school to repeat the process. She’s the only animal that ever drove me to poetry.

Amos and Andy– Named after two favorite politically incorrect comedians, this pair were the first animals I ever raised for profit. At least that’s what my ag teacher predicted when I borrowed the money to pay for them. I paid $30 each for them as 40 pound feeder lambs and sold them weighing 100 pounds for $28 each. Welcome to the livestock business! They were the best cared for lambs in history and I think even Cindy was a little jealous about all the attention I paid them.

Pancakes– The first hog I ever raised was named after her favorite food, my mom’s flapjacks. Those pancakes were the only way we could lure the hog back into her pen after she’d gotten out and terrorized my mom’s sewing customers. I admired Pancakes for that. We tried to ride her but after a couple trips around the pen she’d dart into her house and leave us sitting in the dirt, gasping for air and bruised where the low slung roof caught us in the chest. Then she’d sit there laughing. I loved raising hogs and might have considered it a career if only they smelled better.

Abe- My first beef animal, an Aberdeen Angus I named after man I admired. Abe was the meanest animal on earth and nearly killed me and my ag teacher but much to everyone’s surprise, darned if we didn’t win showmanship at the country fair. (It was only because Abe’s killer reputation had proceeded him and all the other steers were jittery in his presence.) I cried the day they hauled that mean old sorry steer away.

Gentleman- There will never be another Gentleman. He was the first horse I ever owned and he taught me the cow business. He even advanced my literary career when we wrote a book together called A Gentleman and A Scholar. I was supposed to be the scholarly one, but sometimes I wonder. Nearly 30 years after that book came out I still get people asking about Gentleman and one man came all the way from Nova Scotia to see him

I taught Gentleman several tricks, including how to show his teeth when he laughed and how to remove an apple from my back pocket. To this day a smile creeps across my face when I think of my wonder horse.

Yes indeed, the special ones can get under your skin, inside your head and forever hold a special place in your heart long after they’re gone.




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