“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”—Cesare Pavese, Italian novelist, poet, short story writer, and essayist.
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One of the best parts of telling a story in the newspaper every week is how it keeps me in touch with friends or reconnects me with those I haven’t talked to in many years. It’s a process which usually leads to more stories … like the one about the dog that came back to life.
That’s what happened last week when one of my missives resonated with Huella Campbell up in Mount Pleasant. She wrote to share her thoughts, reminding me that she and her husband Weldon were friends with me some years ago when I lived there.
While I remembered Weldon and Huella very well, most days I can’t remember where I left my keys ten minutes ago. It’s been said certain moments reinforce memories. Perhaps that’s what accounts for most of my circle of friends who mostly remember moments like the day President Kennedy was assassinated or the day Elvis died.
It was one memory leading to another during the email discussion with Weldon and Huella last week that helped me recall how Weldon and I met when we were both teachers at Frances Corprew School eons ago. And that reminded me of the day he and I witnessed a dog, given up as gone, “miraculously” come back to life.
Weldon was also a partner in a boat dealership then and invited me to assist one day after school in checking out a used boat. As the last school bell rang that day, we were on a work-related mission to one of the new lakes at that time, Lake Cypress Springs. The older wooden-hull inboard speedboat outfitted with a hot-rod Ford V8 motor made the work fun. However, our squeezing in some skiing time on a spring afternoon was, I’m sure, purely coincidental.
Nearing the lake, I noticed the black and white dog lying in a driveway off the two-lane country road and smiled at the typical canine surprise attack mode for chasing cars. Sure enough, “bullet dog” charged into the road barking in hot pursuit of a tire as we passed by. I watched and wondered the same thing we all do about dogs that chase cars: what would the critter do if it actually caught one?
The sport of the chase over, the pooch pulled back and slowed down. In doing so, it apparently failed to notice one small detail—the boat trailer approaching from behind. I still remember seeing the trailer wheel catch the unsuspecting pup, roll it around a time or two, throw it up into the air and off into the ditch where it landed in a lifeless lump.
Weldon turned around and went back where we were met by the dog’s owner, an old farmer type. As we gathered around and unanimously agreed the dog was a goner, Weldon apologized profusely and tried to pay the man for his poor animal. The fellow laughed and said, “Don’t worry about it, you did me a favor. I didn’t like the dog anyway.”
All seemed well, and we were about to leave when suddenly the dog moved. In unison, we all turned to witness the miracle about to unfold. The dog shook its head, slowly got up, and wobbled its way back toward the driveway.
A momentary silence was broken when the man said with genuine disappointment, “And here, I thought I was finally shed of that darn dog.” We shared laughter of nervous relief that it was not dead and continued our journey on to the lake amid disbelief of witnessing “the dog that came back to life.”
Passing the scene of the incident later that evening on the way home, we saw no sign of the dog waiting for its next chase. Instead of wondering what a dog would do if it actually caught a car, this time I silently pondered what a dog might remember after it has been caught by a car. Perhaps the dog’s memory was good enough for it to give up chasing cars. But if not, would it remember that moment well enough to look back next time to see if there is a trailer coming?
In fact, it’s a story I’ve remembered during my own “car chasing moments” over the years.
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