Dogs may be man’s best friend…

Published 12:33 pm Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they’re not great church members

Jean Outzs is the Climax correspondent for The Bainbridge Post-Searchlight. She can be reached by emailing jaouzts@dishmail.net.

With the hot lazy days of summer in Climax, sometimes known as those “gnat-filled dog days,” talk on the streets goes something like this, ”Don’t think it was this hot when we were young-uns,” or “I know the gnats wasn’t this bad.”

Now folks, wait a minute. I remember no air conditioning, going barefoot, and sore eyes all during the summer. It was so hot on those summer nights, that Mother or Grandmother would fan us with a hand-held funeral home fan or a page from the Post-Searchlight newspaper folded like a fan, until we fell asleep.

The fan not only provided a slight breeze, but it kept the mosquitoes at bay. Then, in the daytime, those same fans knocked the gnats away for a short while. With the coming of dog days came the gnats, and that meant sore eyes for us children.

My Daddy often said the dogs got lazier during dog days. Having told me this, one summer during my youth, I determined that our dogs would not get lazier.

First, I must explain that we had bird dogs; my Dad had prize bird dogs as he was an avid quail hunter, so several bird dogs were always in our family. However, Daddy’s favorite was a black and white female gentle breed, and very obedient, named “Queen.” She was also my favorite, for the same reasons.

This particular summer, I decided to teach the dogs different tricks, and did have some success with fetch and other tricks. But I soon became bored with the tricks, and lost interest also in playing dolls with my little sister, Myra.

I must have been in about the fourth or fifth grade in school, and even tried to teach the dogs to write with their paws. Then, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea—the dogs and I would have “church.”

I sat them in front of me and began to talk about God and Jesus to the attentive audience, but something was missing. I looked at my dog church members, and realized they weren’t dressed for the occasion! Allowing the members to have a break, I slipped into the house and to Mother’s clothes closet. Queen needed a nice church dress with a hat, as was the style of the day, and Prince, the male dog, needed a shirt and tie.

Queen’s wardrobe was taking shape when an interruption occurred, in the form of Mother coming near her room. I slid outside, without her knowing I had her best Sunday church dress. I didn’t have time to get a hat or gloves, so Queen had to wear my doll cap for her Sunday hat.

Prince did not get a shirt or tie, either. Now, in retrospect, I think that might have been for the best. I dressed Queen, as she patiently allowed me to slip Mother’s dress over her head and her front legs into the sleeves. The lace-framed doll cap completed her outfit. She proudly sat back in all her splendor for me to admire her in the Sunday finery.

Then all pandemonium broke out, in the form of my tabby cat. Tabby came slithering up to my leg purring and expressing her devotion, and Queen couldn’t take it! All of a sudden, it was a dog and cat fight in Mother’s Sunday church dress.

The farm houses back then were open underneath with pillars made of large wooden blocks, and Tabby made a beeline under the house with Queen close on her heels. Tabby escaped to the other side of the house, while Queen’s church dress got caught by a nail on one of the wooden pillars under the middle of the house, and there she froze, pointing at Tabby!

Mother came outside to see what the noise was all about, and to my devastation, she looked under the house at Queen, in her best church dress! “Jean Ann, just you wait until your Daddy gets home, ruining my best dress like that,” she exclaimed, almost in tears. “Your hide won’t hold shucks!”

Well, Queen was hung under a narrow part of the house where I couldn’t get to her to untangle her dress, so there she stayed all day. Picture a beautiful bird dog adorned in a doll cap and pretty dress trapped under the house.

I worried all day—with good reason—knowing Mother would tell Daddy first thing upon his arrival home. He looked at me and said not one word. He just crawled under the house, untangled Queen, and brought her and the dress out. Then, he gave me the worst paddling I have ever had. While Mother thought I got the paddling for ruining her dress, I knew I got the paddling for placing Daddy’s prize bird dog in danger.

To this day, I don’t like dog days, gnats, or much care for the bird dog breed. I’d much rather have a mixed breed.

Stay cool and don’t play church with your dad’s dogs, unless you have permission to dress them!