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COLUMN: You have to take care of your animals
New American Gothic

COLUMN: You have to take care of your animals

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I’ve already seen two nice-looking dogs, obviously dumped, along the road during my travels with John Bennett.

He doesn’t like the main roads, so we end up taking the “short cuts.”

Now that the snow and ice are starting to melt and break up, the kind of people who want to dispose of a dog are back to work.

Every dog I have had as an adult has come from the side of the road. They all turned out to be good dogs after a while.

Sadie dog, who was sitting patiently on the side of a mountain road these many years ago, was a stellar dog from the start.

Good dogs always wait for whoever dumped them to come back and pick them up.

Sadie had been waiting awhile. I had seen her on the way down. On the way back up, I stopped and talked to her.

She sat and listened.

Then, I said, “You want to get in the truck?”

She stood up and jumped into the passenger seat, and that was that. I had the best farm dog, best dog, ever.

She would run, just on her hind legs, barking up at any hawk that came too close. She would track down chickens lost in the snow and sit with them until I came out to carry them back. She would chase coyotes and come back home with a tuft of coyote hair in her mouth.

She would take care of the children and stand between us and them if she thought we were putting their shoes on incorrectly.

Out haying, she would clean the field of as many rodents as she had time for. And, she would be friends with other dogs as best she could.

I didn’t train her, that’s who she was when she arrived.

The sad story is, it was obvious she had been loved — and for many, many years — making it obvious that after someone’s death the clever relatives or caretakers decided they didn’t want her, so they took her to west nowhere to dump her.

Well, lucky me.

Sadie was dumped just this time of year, still half a foot of snow on the ground in the woods.

That’s when the people who are taking the dog “to a nice home in the country” start. That lasts awhile. Then, they start again in the fall.

When I’m driving and I see a good ol’ dog pacing the road waiting, I want to pick it up.

The problem is I only have so much energy and so much money.

My good old dog Mia, the current generation of side-of-the-road dog, needs my attention and that energy.

She was a tough one. She killed four chickens in the first month she lived with us.

Now, years later, the chickens hang out with her and she and Mr. Rooster Head often take naps together.

The first thing we have always done once we decide to keep a road hound or stray cat, and they have decided to keep us, is to have them vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

At times the cost and effort were a stretch, but we did it anyway. You have to take care of your animals.

You know sometimes, especially of late, I’m not too impressed by humans. But I have always been impressed by my good ol’ road hounds.

Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley, N.Y. Leave a message at


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