“The Great Poochie Adoption – Day 1”
Del Rio, Texas
Sixth grade was a Nightmare! Mrs. Deloach hated me, and I ‘ventually hated her right back.
See, in fifth grade (my last and totally glorious year at North Heights) I had Mrs. Gunkle, and she didn't believe in homework. Hardly any--EVER!
Noooottttt Mrs. Deloach! She thinks homework powers the whole universe or somethin’, and she made sure that it (homework) AND her big ugly face landed right on my head every single day.
At first, I just didn't do it. I had learned that NO homework was the way to go; and, so, that's the way I went.
Well, one day, right in front of the whole dang class, she yelled, "...for years I've been hearing about how great you are, and now that you're here, I see that you're a waste of time!"
And that's how I learned to hate her right back.
If it hadn't been for Spanish lessons with another teacher, I'da gone crazy by now.
Anyway, all of this to tell you that I'm ready for a change this summer! LEAVIN Mrs. Deloach behind is like eating a big fat Sissy Burger from the Dairy Kreme on Saturday night! Pure Heaven.
AND something weird happened this morning.
I was walking up to the vacant lot behind William’s house (gotta get back to work on our fort) when a big brown wiener dog came wigglin’ up to me.
He had a strong leather collar, but no tags, and no name. He was so sweet and so friendly.
So, like ALL doggies, I stopped to pet him and talk to him. And he almost talked right back. He looked me right in the eyes and seemed to be saying, "I don't know you, Billy, but I sure do love you!"
Anyway, he followed me up to the fort, a big hole started by others and expanded by me, Butch, William and Donnie over the past 3 years, and now he's disappeared into the bushes.
I don't know if he's gone back to his home or what, but it doesn't matter because he's not mine. I haven't had a dog since our little black cocker spaniel, Buster, got smashed by that truck in front of our old house on 4th street a long, long time go. THAT was a bad day!
Oh! Here he comes back. Seems his tail almost wags Him. SO cute, and now I see what he was doing out in "the briar patch" with Br’er Rabbit. He's got a half dead horney toad in his mouth.
"Good Boy, Poochie!" I don't know his real name, and he won't tell me, but all dogs are "poochies," right?
Back home for supper, I tell Daddy about Poochie, and as usual, he says zactly nothin’. So I wait until just after the meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
"Daddy, that wiener dog sure looks hungry. Can I give him my left overs?"
"No sir!," he says. "He belongs to someone else, and he needs to go home."
Well darn. I hate that answer, but I'm not done yet. If Poochie’s still outside tomorrow morning, he and I'll come up with another plan.
Meanwhile, I spend the whole evening in my room working on my latest invention--proly won't work 'cause they usually don't. But, I keep thinking about Poochie and the way he follows me and looks into my eyes. I've never known a doggie quite like this. Even Pam and JR's girl weiner dog, Fancy, isn't this sweet--or smart – not to ME at least!
Daddy tucks us all in, and I secretly listen to KOMA on my little red crystal radio set. It only works with an ear fone and only at night. Just after Petoola Clark sings "My Love Is Warmer Than--something," I shut it down and roll over. My mind is filled with little brown, wiggly, waggly Poochie scenes.
I love--just love--waking up on summer mornings. This early in the year, we sleep with the windows open. Only screens between me and all outdoors! The doves are already cooing and feeding their little babies. Sweet smellin Del Rio air fills me with my first Big breath!
Stretch both arms way out. Tighten and relax every muscle. Down the hall to the bathroom. Back to throw on my jeans and shirt, and OUT the door before anyone else even stirs--especially Linda who will proly sleep all the way to 10:00! Sheesh!
Where's Poochie? Surely he's still here.
Nope. Nowhere. Not at the garage door where I saw him last night. Not under the pecan tree. Not over by the chimney water pipe. NO WHERE.
Heck. Only one thing to do.
I grab my red and white bike and start peddling--fast.
Around the corner past Fred and Martha Jean's. Past Philpot's house and on down to Star Park. Gotta be quiet going past Pam’s house. If Deb is visiting, sure don't want Her to see me. I’m so shy, and she’s so pretty – and popular.
But--Poochie is nowhere. He's gone--I guess.
So, I slow down, float past Gronde Hall and swing into our alley like a landing jet fighter.
For the next fifty feet I ride with my eyes looking straight down at the caliche. I know this path so well, and I can sense when it's time to hit the brakes and skid to a stop right by our first gate--AND our trash can!
Wow! Wow! Wow! BOW WOW! Here he is!!!!
Poochie!!! He's found some old rotten lettuce or something, and he's havin’ a little snack.
I drop my bike right here, and hug his neck!
There goes that tail again, and this time he licks me right on my mouth.
"Thanks, Poochie! I'm so glad you didn't leave."
(To Be Continued)
“The Great Poochie Adoption – Day 2”
Del Rio, Texas
The gate to our back yard is right here, but when Daddy says, "No!" the way he did last night, he usually means "really, Really No!"
I dare not take Poochie into the back yard--at least not while Daddy's still home. So, we gotta go around--- just me and "my" wiener dog.
So, I walk my bike north toward 5th street and call back to Poochie, "Come on, boy!"
He perks up his soft, floppy ears and looks right at me. Cocks his head left and starts running--sorta--through the soft, dry caliche powder.
I'm thrilled that he listens to me and seems to do whatever I ask him to do.
I turn right at the near side of 5th and walk east toward my street, Ave. D.
Now Poochie's right beside me as we pass in front of Mr. Doug Smith's house. Nice man, but I remember the day Butch and I peppered our side of his wooden fence with dirt clods. It was so cool because Mr. Smith had just painted the fence reddish brown, and we could see exactly where every clod hit!
Mr. Smith wasn't too happy with us that day, and that's how me and Butch started learning how to paint fences.
As Poochie and I get near the corner of Avenue D, he starts walking ahead of me and turns at exactly the right spot and cuts the corner through Mr. Smith's grass just like I always do.
It seems like Poochie knows exactly where we're going!
Whoah! He's running now like a Jack rabbit! Has he decided to leave me and go "home"?
"Poochie!", I yell as he runs right out in front of a car traveling north on D. Oh NO!!!
My heart almost busts wide open.
I can still remember the foggy look in Buster's eyes after HE got squashed, and I can't bear to see it again.
So, I look away and wait for the squeal.
But, no noise at all.
No screech. Nothing.
Opening my eyes just barely, I see something I'll never ever forget.
Sitting right in front me.
Staring up at me.
Mouth open, tongue hanging just a little.
Tail just beginning to think about wagging.
HE's OK! And he's looking right into my soul again.
"Poochie! You sure scared me! Don't ever do that again!" I sorta shout.
He just keeps on panting, and waiting on me as he looks back across the street.
There, way up in the big ole mesquite tree, I see the Hornbuckle's cat. No wonder.
Sheesh! Almost smushed over a stupid cat! What next?
We head on home the last half block, and there's little Sterling standing in the driveway WITH his blue-green Tommy Tippie cup in his left hand. Proly full of chocolate milk. Heck, I didn't even know what that was at his age. He gets everything but whippin’s around here.
"You know Daddy said we can't keep him, Billy!" he threatens -- and then adds, "I'm tellin!"
I have to bribe him with the promise that he can help me and William with the fort after breakfast.
What a little cow pie he is!
In we go to breakfast as I tell him he should get dressed before coming outside. He looks so dorky in his jammies--especially outside in the front yard.
And I figure somebody needs to protect him.
Breakfast is ready, and Mom already has two fried eggs on my plate. She adds a slice of thick pepper bacon, and I smell Mama's hot sauce on the stove. Mmmmmmm! I love my breakfasts!
Linda is last to the table and Mom asks me to say the blessing this time.
Six heads bowed. Twelve eyes closed.
"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this food. Please bless it to the nourishment of our bodies, and please feed everyone else who's hungry this morning.
Forgive us of our sins, Lord, and please help Poochie find his way home so he can eat.
This I pray in Jesus Name.
Of course, God and I know that when I pray about Poochie and "home," I mean right here at 604 Avenue D, Del Rio, Texas.
(To Be Continued)
“The Great Poochie Adoption – Day 3”
Del Rio, Texas
Since I didn't go back to the fort yesterday with Sterling as promised, I better take him up to the vacant lot this morning. At breakfast he had that "look" in his eye that said, "I'm gonna TEH--uhll..." and I better not risk it. Not time yet for Daddy to know that Poochie has done moved in.
Poochie's sitting out by the driveway, and he jumps up and starts wagglin’ as soon as he hears the garage door creeeek.
He looks hungrier than ever, but he's smiling anyway. Once again, Daddy didn't let me feed him last night after supper, and I'm startin’ to worry.
Straight north we go. Past 5th street--carefully avoiding the mesquite tree--and on up to the ally behind William's house.
Turn right into the ally, and as we pass by the tall salt cedar trees behind William's house, I check for Poochie. Almost forgot about him 'cause I've been thinking about all the materials we're gonna need for the fort this summer.
He's still right with us and seems happier than ever. But he's GOTTA be hungry!
Turn left between the small mesquite bush and the huge "jungle" of prickly pear cactus.
On down the crooked path we go -- taking all the right turns at each fork. Sterling would never find his way in here without me--but Poochie leads on as if he's been here a thousand times -- instead of just once.
Finally, we reach the front opening of the "sacred ground" where our fort is. It's surrounded by Ceniza bushes and all kinds of thorn trees, but we play here like it's the greenest grassy lawn in the best neighborhood in town.
William and Donnie look up from the bottom of the nearly 4-foot deep hole, and Donnie says, "What's that?!"
I say, "Sterling of course." but he's talking about Poochie who has already crawled down into the fort through the key-hole entrance ditch. He thinks he's gonna help us dig, or kill Indians, or defend some princess somewhere.
What a cute wiener doggie!
Well, after an hour or so (Sterling's patience limit and attention span) we've got the walls all pretty straight again. This fort gets wider and longer and deeper every single summer.
When we get ‘nuff boards collected, we'll have it covered over--all 6 feet wide and 10 feet long. We'll then cover the boards with a layer of dirt so no foreign enemies can ever find it--Or Us!
Just after William finishes carving out a new hole for our candles, we decide to call it a day and head home for our dinners (the noon-time meal). William lives right next door. Donnie lives across the street from him. And Sterling, Poochie and I live just around the corner from Donnie.
Notice I included Poochie?
Though no one else believes it, Poochie and I are still plannin’ on it!
After an argument about who's gonna take care of the shovel until tomorrow, we finally head on out of the vacant lot. Of course Donnie takes a left fork when the rest of us take a right 'cause he'll cut through William's side yard on his way home.
We all have one last laugh when William "let's one rip" one more time, and I give Sterling a look that says, "You better not TEH-ull!" --about the bad words he heard during our fort work--about William's toots--about ANYthing else!
As usual, good ole Poochie leads the way home. At the 5th street crossing, though, I have to be extra careful. Sterling is a second grader--soon to be third--but he's not nearly as wise as I was at that age. I mean, he even still uses training wheels on his bike! I never had some of them--ever.
Anyway, the cars that travel east and west have the right of way--which means they go fast. And the ones coming from the Main Street direction won't see us (especially squirt Sterling and wiener dog Poochie) as we walk along side that long green hedge just before 5th.
So, I grab Poochie's collar and hold it much tighter than I did Buster's that day long ago, and I tell Sterling to STOP. In times like these, Sterling usually listens and obeys – or else!
I wish he would Always do that. Always...
The fast-moving sky blue Ford pickup truck flies on by, and then we're on our way again.
Now Poochie takes off. Only this time, he isn't chasing anything--He's heading HOME!
Dinner is sandwiches today, and Mom has set the table out on the back patio--my favorite.
"Wash your hands," she says as we come in the screen door from the garage.
"SLAM" goes the door as I forget--Again.
She gives me that "Don't let the door slam!" look that lasts just a second and then turns into a little smile.
Washing hands with Sterling is always "fun." I have to Make it fun or he won't really wash at all. So, by the time we finish -- all four hands in the warm bathroom sink water -- he's actually gotten his fairly clean.
Run, run, run thru the kitchen to the back door I pretend to chase him, and we stop at the door for one last Billy-to-Sterling warning look. I know he gets it, but will he actually keep his mouth shut? Somehow he knows I won't Really ever will actually kill him.
Daddy walks in from the garage and heads to the tall kitchen sink to wash His hands.
"Hi, Daddy!" I say with the very honest excitement I always have when I first see him. WE go way back.
"Good morning--Uh--afternoon, Billy." he says seemingly weighed down by something horrible.
Mom asks the blessing over our meal this time, and we start to load up our own sandwiches. Of course, Sterling sits next to Mom so she can "help" him. He's such a little schmoozer!
So spoilt--and So cute!
Then Daddy begins to tell her what a hard morning he's had. Some young girl had too many teeth in her mouth, and he hadda pull 'em--Too many of 'em.
He seems worried, but Mom says, "I'm sure she'll be alright, Honey. You'll see." And somehow I know she's right.
A few minutes later, to my horror, guess who shows up at the patio gate! Poochie!
He's looking right through the chain link and right at us--and we are EATING!
I shake my head at him, but he sits right down and just stares.
"Not time yet, Poochie!" I think--but can't say.
And he just keeps on staring.
Well, shoot! Nothin’ I can do but eat and hope he doesn't bark AND hope Daddy doesn't see him
Which he doesn't.
"Thank you, Jesus."
After a quick nap for the Stinker (another name we use for Sterling), and after "As the World Turns" is over, Sterling and I head out front for pecan tree climbing lessons.
He's learned all the steps he needs to safely climb to almost every named limb, but today I want to take him up where he's never been before, the Tall Tower. From there he'll be able to see all the way over to Avenue F! Now THAT’s Exciting!
It's not long until supper time, and the Great Poochie Adoption Plan is about to get started!
Daddy gets home and stretches out in the den for one quick pipe smoke. Hard day today.
And I take a look at, and a smell of, everything Mom is cooking on the stove. Looks and smells great, but then I realize that I've almost missed the BEST part!
She's fixed my favorite--green bean casserole! Onion rings on top! Green beans and cream of mushroom soup down inside--and it's steaming hot!
"Not quite ready yet," she says, and I head on back to my erector set.
A little while later, "Y'all come on!" I hear way back in my room, and we all arrive at the table at about the same time.
Daddy pulls Mom's chair back for her, and they both sit. Us kids are already sitting and ready--AND hungry!
"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for our family. Thank you for keeping Linda, Butch, Billy and Sterling safe for another day. And thank you for our home and the food we're about to eat. Please bless the food to the nourishment of our bodies and our bodies to Your service.
And please help little Mary sleep well tonight so she can heal up and get ready for her braces. We pray all of this in Jesus name. Amen"
He forgot the "forgive us" part, but I guess that's ok this time. Maybe HE doesn't need any forgiving.
We dive in, and it's SO good!
But when we're done and Linda and Butch have already left, I initiate--- The Plan.
"Wow! There's a little casserole left." I announce.
"And, Daddy...." He looks up from his plate.
"I tried to tell Poochie to leave, but he won't."
"He's SO hungry."
"Can I give him just this little bit of left over?"
He seems to stare at me forever.
And finally, he says, "Sure. But take him out to the ally so he doesn't think he lives HERE."
He's moving in with us! I just know it!
I can't wait!
I can even take him THROUGH the back yard 'cause Daddy didn't say "Take him AROUND to the ally."
Well, Poochie eats every single little bitty bit and licks the glass cooking pan clean as a whistle!
I mean it looks like it's been washed and dried and sparkled!
So, leaving Poochie outside, I take that pan back inside and show it to Daddy.
He asks, "Did you wash this thing?"
"No SIR. Poochie did! With his tongue!"
Then, I hear 'em.
The sweetest words I have EVER heard,
"I guess any dog that'll eat left over green beans like this is worth keeping," and he laughs.
"He can stay until we find his real owner."
All I hear is, "keeping" and "stay" !!!
So, I rush out through the garage and hug Poochie with all my strength--with all my heart!
"Welcome HOME, Poochie!"
More doggie kisses...
This time on my cheek.
- November 19, 2012 -
Yesterday, November 18, 2012, was the 38th anniversary of my dad's transition from Earth to Heaven.
So, I dedicate my story, "The Great Poochie Adoption" to him.
I love you, Daddy.
Welcome Home to you too.