Tray was the ugliest little
dog possible. He was a copper color, only about knee high, and had the
most frightening colored eyes, like the stereotype of some alien creature
who has amber eyes. As if this was not enough they were snakelike too. At
first the dog worried the children. He didn't actually nip at them but
rather seemed to be nibbling. That is until the two-year-old discovered
he hated to have someone blow in his face. Ada was about the same height
as he was but she would run him all over the yard with Tray trying
desperately to get away from her lest she blow in his face.
The mutt was a found
creature but had endeared himself to them because of one saving grace.
A small copperhead snake they on occasion uncovered under some rock or
maybe in the fence line brought him redemption. For every paradise it
was almost like there has to be one negative. To bring back the balance
Tray came into their life. Something about the dog's ancestry gave him an
ability to hunt snakes. No sooner was he freed from his night time pen
until he was zipping up and down the fence lines searching. If there
happened to be a stick or something, anything with some length to it he
immediately attacked, dragging it out with his sharp teeth.
Where they lived had been
country not too many years ago and one would think the little serpents
would find a more protected area, but not so. For this reason Tray was
less than well bred but still appreciated, and became accepted.
Sunday morning saw them
early off to church and when they returned they were greeted with tears
and sobs from their little granddaughter.
“Gramma! Gramma! There
was a mean lady and a terrible man here who said they were going to shoot
“Oh no! Surely not. Has
he bitten someone? Oh dear I do hope not. He never has. What is this all
about?” Dee asked her daughter.
All the crying and carrying
on continued until Dee had to stop to console the granddaughter. “No one
is going to shoot Tray.”
“Gramma! They said the
policeman told them if he bites their little boy they can shoot him.”
“No! No! In Oklahoma it
is against the law to shoot a dog. Did he bite someone?” Dee asked one
“I asked them if I could
see the bite. They said he had not bitten the child he was just afraid of
him.” Dee's daughter, Sheila, looked off into the distance.
There was no way Dee could
laugh. Everything was in such a tense situation. “Ooooh sheesh! Now I
feel sorry for Tray. Bless his heart he can't help it because of his ugly
fearsome look. I'm sure he looks ferocious to a child. He makes himself
obnoxious too, nibbling at people the way he does. One woman complained.
“Don't do that Dog, that tickles!”
Why didn't you tell the
mother what Ada does to run him off? Blow in his face.”
“Oh the mother was in a
rage. I didn't dare say too much. Anyway Elsa was screaming and crying
because they said they were going to shoot HER dog. The woman's husband
was backing her up by saying, “I can take care of it.”
Dee visited with her friend
about it which was almost like talking to no one. The woman was always so
peaceful and placid about everything. Her solution was to advise Dee to go
meet the woman and apologize. For some reason Dee had no intention of
walking into a stranger's yard especially since her man had already
confessed to owning a gun. They were new to the neighborhood, but she was
feeling that surely there was some other way to get acquainted. And, too,
she had a little trouble with apologizing to them. After all they were the
one's who came on her property threatening mayhem and murder for poor old
Tray who was just doing his job as his ancestors must have done.
The weather was
unbelievably miserable. For some reason the spring of 2003 was very slow
about making its presence known. Every day was a drizzly day, cold and
bleak. Occasionally a few warms days would come around but, for the most
part it was rain, heavier than a mist but, on the other hand, not
pouring in big drops. In these conditions Dee turned her attention to the
very front of the property, which needed help as always. The drop of the
heavy clay hill was to make the slope dry and for the most part barren.
For over the thirty years they lived on the property she had never worked
on it because she knew there was a lot of work to be done.
In this weather Dee began
to transplant, fertilize and pull mulch on to it. The traffic on their
small road was something they mostly ignored even though over the years it
had increased. Their house set back a good way and it wasn't a bother.
However, it may have been part of the reason Dee didn't work on the edge
of the front property.
The heavy shovels of red
clay she moved to one side in order to set mulch on it and then cover that
again with more shovels of the miserable hard packed substance which
could loosely be spoken of as soil. She knew she looked ghastly with her
gray hair wet and plastered to her head, but something about the work was
They had come through a
hard winter with her daughter driving every day through ice and snow,
rain and storms to attend the little college only fourteen miles away.
This was nothing unusual because so many of the young people in the area
did the same thing. The difference was that money was close so her
daughter vowed she would make straight A's in order to get a good
scholarship. They were so over joyed when she achieved her goal and was
offered a very fine scholarship, or at least the opportunity to apply for
it. If their joy had a let down it was what she knew they must go
through. It was this let down which made the scene with the woman and the
dog harder to accept.
For once in her life she
appreciated the heavy packed red soil. Its heaviness was a challenge.
Too, the very young looking woman who had created the scene always
zoomed by in her shiny new large truck neither looking right or left.
Dee wanted to chastise herself for thinking of the spirited colts of her
youth in what seemed like another century ago, who had to be tamed through
association. Not too much at first, mind you. They can't be spoiled or
they will be hard to control, but one must get acquainted, slowly.
She smiled to herself,
“It's the code of the hills!” Too many of her Dad's “old sayings”
seemed to fit.