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Bull Dogs and Strays

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie

Many times the events we experienced in childhood seemed a great deal more important, exciting or exaggerated than they do now in adulthood. I was 6 or 7 at the time. I recall one warm summer afternoon very near the end of WW-II; my family and I were visiting with the Stewert family. They lived in the community of Walton Center, Texas. That is in southeastern Cass County on FM 125, only a couple hundred yards from the Louisiana State line. It was about six miles from my childhood home on the Rambo oil lease. The Stewerts had an older son who was serving overseas in the US military. My parents and we kids had stopped by to check on him and see when he might be coming home. But more importantly to me at the time, they had children to play with near my own age.

Old Uncle Jim Stewert had a big English bulldog named Mary Ann. That dog seemed very big and ugly to me. She lay around on the front porch sleeping a lot. But, when spurred into action, she could be terribly mean and vicious to other animals, especially to stray dogs. That seems, I have learned, to be the natural character of some large Terrier and Bulldog breeds. I have also read some place where dogs aren't naturally mean and vicious, but man makes them that way through agitation, prodding and attack training.

We children were all playing out in the red dirt road, when a large black stray dog came bouncing down the road wanting only to pass us by and move on along. But, as carefree, playful kids, we all wanted to pet that stray. So we blocked the dog's path in order to stop it and pet it. (Please don't try that at home) Mary Ann sure didn't like that. Jealous that we kids would pet another dog, not to mention hating stray dogs, she rapidly moved into action.

As Mary Ann came up close, that stray tried to flee. Mary Ann caught it by the back leg and scuffled it over into the road ditch, where the two fought viciously for a while. We kids, not knowing how this dog fight would turn out, got very excited, gleefully jumping up and down and cheering for the underdog; the stray. Wow! A big dog fight like I had never seen before, nor since, right there before our very own eyes. ----- Too soon though, all the joy, jubilance and excitement turned to sadness, fright and screaming, crying children. Mary Ann had quickly gotten the upper hand of that stray. She locked her jaws on that dog's throat and didn't budge an inch until it lay lifeless. We kids were severely shocked. Never having seen such a horrible sight, I was frightened to death. Terrified, quickly I ran fast as possible to the house where the adults were sitting on the front porch sipping hot coffee from a saucer and talking. Exhaustedly I told them what had happened out in the road. It seemed of little or no surprise to Uncle Jim. No big deal! He said Mary Ann was very capable of that and did it quite often. It was just one more dead dog for him to have to drag off, dig a hole and bury. But, I can tell you; it was a big emotional deal to us kids. A very sad and gruesome sight young children should never have to witness. I would never, never forget what I, as a young lad, saw there that afternoon.

It was now late in the day and after a while, my family and I got ready to leave. We all piled into our old 1939 Chevrolet pickup and headed for home. Dad, mom and one sister usually rode in the first class section, "up front" in the cab. Another sister and I frequently rode in the fun and game section, the "open air" back pickup bed. Back there, my dad had built a nice little board bench for us kids to sit on.

As we arrive home and pulled up into the yard, my little "Poochy" dog came running out to greet us. Picking him up in my arms, I hugged and hugged him, thankful he was safe and sound. "Poochy" was the fuzzy, cuddly little puppy Bessy and Bud had given me several months earlier for spending the night with them in their home at Huffines. He was a good, frisky, loyal little pet and he lived to be thirteen years old.

Maybe I'll see you on down the road!

N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray" >
March 28, 2007 Column

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