In July of 2014, Bill and I were driving out of the holler on the way to town. As we came near the end of Otto Road, we passed a dog in the ditchline. I looked in the side mirror and exclaimed that it looked just like Ugs, a dog I had years ago! Bill didn’t even have to ask. He backed up the truck and I jumped out to see if it would approach me. Alas, she was scared to death and slinked off under barbed wire into the woods.
For weeks, several neighbors tried to approach her but got the same results. At one point, another dog started running with her but my neighbor, Coty, managed to catch him and take him home. So, this little one was left alone in the woods again.
Because she was so skinny, a few people began leaving food for her. It was dropped at various places along the roadside at different times of the day. She learned people’s schedules and could be seen trotting up or down the side of the road to her next stop. “The lady in the gray car leaves dog treats at the top of the hill in the morning. The old man in the red truck leaves a McDonald’s burger by the pull-over when the sun is highest. The mom in the blue car always stops and tries to feed me Tudor’s biscuits and gravy after the school bus goes by. And, the dude in the white truck brings potato chips to the gas well maintenance road, but he only comes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.” She would always wait until they were a good distance away before she wolfed down whatever was on the menu. Her weight began to pick up but her trust in people did not.
On my inconsistent trips to town, I started pulling the truck over into the gas well driveway. I would drop some dog food and then just sit there in my truck, read my mail and let her get used to the sound of the engine. I put the radio on, sang, read aloud and commented to her, but whenever she caught my eye, she’d shy away again into the underbrush. So, I stopped looking, but kept talking and singing.
One day, I put on my Elton John CD and the song, “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” came on. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her approaching the truck! She got within about 5 feet of it when I turned to look at her, and instead of slinking away, for the first time she just froze and looked back at me. “I couldn’t if I tried!” I sang. That was the day I named her E.J. for Elton John.
After that, every time I drove down her section of the road, I opened my windows and played the tune full blast. In my rear view mirror, I’d see her peek out of the woods, cock her head in my direction, and then come trotting down the road behind me to my parking spot by the gas well. She wasn’t just hungry, she was starving for company.
to be continued…