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If people were just half as faithful and obedient to the Creator of dogs and men

Straw Boss

By --December 29, 2012

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In wintertime, a strong wind in the Mississippi Delta is painfully cold, partly because it is always full of humidity, but mainly because it howls across ironing-board flatness unchecked. Delta folks call such cold winter winds the “cuttin’ body hawk.”

At daybreak one freezing January morning, the hawk sliced through my body and those of my duck-hunting partners as we pulled on waders and loaded shotguns.

Just as we began slogging across a field of straw stubble toward our blind, I heard a pitiful, weak whimper. It was a puppy, nothing but skin and bones, shivering in the straw, so near death that my partners suggested I end his misery.

He resembled a Doberman Pinscher — solid black with rust-colored jaw patches and feet, and a long snout. When I squatted before him, his dull, mucous-clouded eyes, filled with fear and hopelessness, looked straight into mine. That was all it took. There is enough suffering in this world, I thought. I am not about to shoot this helpless, starving puppy. Gently, I picked him up, wrapped him in a warm blanket and put him in the truck.

Later that day, I took him to the local veterinarian, known by all as Old Doc Tom. He examined him, shook his head gravely and said, “He’s feverish, dehydrated, extremely malnourished, sounds like he’s got respiratory problems, and is obviously more dead than alive. We’ll do all we can for him, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you.”

A few days later, Doc Tom called. “Believe it or not, this puppy is still living, and with proper care, might survive. He’s definitely a Doberman. What are you going to name him?”

Maybe it was because I found him unprotected from a biting cold wind in a field of straw, or maybe it was because of the fearless assertiveness characteristic of his breed, I’ll never know for sure, but a name popped in my head: Straw Boss.

The puppy and the bond between us grew at a rapid pace. When I took him to have his tail and ears cropped, Doc Tom said, “Surely that’s not the same emaciated runt that I had all but given up on!” And judging by the size of his paws, he’s going to be huge.”

Huge indeed. In two years’ time he stood about two feet tall and weighed nearly a hundred pounds. As he grew, his faithfulness and obedience to me grew proportionately. We were constant companions. Riding in my pickup, he’d hang out of the window on warm days, lapping at the wind; on cold days, he’d snuggle up against me and nod off to sleep.

That beautiful dog and I enjoyed many happy years together. Reflecting on our love for each other, I can’t help but think … if people were just half as faithful and obedient to the Creator of dogs and men as that Doberman was to me, what a far better world this would be.

Miss you, Straw Boss.

Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran, former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer, and retired college teacher. His collection of short stories is available via, telephone 662-236-2262.

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