The Alabama Housewife
Southern Humorist, Storyteller and Writer
Once upon a time my family had three dogs. Otis-a poodle, Sugar Bear- a pomeranian and Dixie-a chocolate lab. They were all terribly spoiled, smothered with love and they collectively ruled the roost at our old home up in Alabama. The Long Family Ark was full….or so it seemed.
That is until one morning my husband woke up and shared with me about a vivid and moving dream he had about his aging uncle. My Prince Charming is not at all prone to sentimental gestures or sudden decision making so when he announced he was skipping work for the day to make the two hour drive to visit his Uncle Ed; I knew he felt quite strongly about that dream. He made the trip, they had a great time catching up on old stories and then on his way home he called to announce he was going to close out his day with a quick stop at the hunting camp. He and his late father spent many afternoons hunting together with Uncle Ed so his decision went right along with his unexpected, overly maudlin mood. I told him to stay as long as he wanted—spend the night even—and that we’d see him when he got home.
Not long after that call he rang again and told me he had picked up a dog on the dirt road to the camp house. She was starving so he fed her the week old leftovers from the refrigerator, made her a big bowl of water and walked out into the woods for the afternoon. He sat for hours by his favorite field at Moon Lake….all the while secretly hoping she would be gone when he returned. As you likely already know, that hungry dog was still sitting there by his truck when he got back and because he is the man I love—he couldn’t bare to leave her there. She laid calmly in the back of his truck all the way to our house and stayed with us for the night. She was petrified and it was clear someone had been cruel to her so I spent the evening right by her side petting to her and talking to her sweetly. We agreed we couldn’t keep her but decided to clean her up and find a good home for her rather than risk her fate at a shelter. The next day I loaded her up for a visit to our vet and he ran after me yelling: “Do NOT spend more than $100 on that dog. I mean it!” Clearly he had not made many trips to the vet. I smiled and told him she absolutely had to have a bath and a rabies shot if she planned to bunk with our other four legged children for the time being and I assured him I would do my best to stay on budget.
Later that day our vet phoned to share the bad news about our new friend—who by the way only was skin and bones and could barely walk—and told us that not only was she covered in ticks but she was also suffering from the ever dreaded heart worms. The recovery would be long and difficult and would most definitely be more than $100.
I can’t stand to cry. I hate it more than I can say. I think it’s weak and it makes me insane. But on that day—I started to tear up. I knew there was no way we could find a home for a starved, sick dog in need of expensive medical care. I dreaded telling him and when he walked in to see me so upset—because when I publicly show emotion like that it is the most out of the ordinary thing you can imagine—he knew it was bad. I explained the entire situation along with the anticipated costs and out of the clear blue sky the good old boy I married (who is as rough and tumble as they come) started crying right along with me and said “Call them back and tell they we’ll save her!”
The vivid dream and the visit with Uncle Ed combined with the hunting expedition that carried him straight down memory lane hand in hand with his Daddy had him in a loving, nostalgic frame of mind I had never seen before. I'm pretty sure our vet bought a new lake house by the time we had Miss Molly on the mend but it was well worth the effort.
Saving that dog is the most pleasantly surprising thing he has ever done as long as I’ve known him.
We lost Uncle Ed a few years after Molly came to stay. And Otis has joined him since then too. But all these years later, Molly is still here— happy as can be and living a true fairytale life. We all packed up and moved to the beach a few years ago and the coastal climate is treating her quite well. She and Dixie are like sisters and Sugar Bear bugs them both to death just like a little brother should. She sheds like she’s getting paid to do it and we have long since abandoned the thought of ever owning black clothing ever again. But she nuzzled her way into all of our hearts and we love her so. She is without a doubt the most grateful member of our family and I’ll be forever indebted to her for teaching me that there’s always more room in the ark.