This past weekend, we had to say good-bye to a loyal friend and trusted companion. Here to tell their story is Victor’s best friend and mine, my husband, Dale.
It was late summer 1996. I was listening to a swap shop radio show on WMOX in Meridian MS at work at NTTC. An ad came on for a mixed breed hound dog puppy, free to good home. It was almost lunch time, so I decided to go check it out. My daughter Tamica had just lost her Collie, Rex, who had been hit by a car and had to be put to sleep. She had been expressing interest in getting another dog, and I thought this might do the trick.
When I got to the house, it was a turquoise green ranch house with a chain link fence around the back of the house. I rang the door bell and when an old man answered the door, the smell of urine and feces nearly knocked me over. He was smoking a cigarette and had a beer can in his hand. I asked him about the puppy and he said it was around back in the dog house near the fence.
I went around back and saw a little white puppy with black spots. His sibling was lying dead between the dog house and the fence. I picked the puppy up by the scruff of the neck to give him a once over. He was skin and bones and was crawling with fleas. When I checked his gums they were ash gray and the consistency of wet tissue paper.
I thought to myself that he might not be the dog I was looking for, but he was not staying at that house another day.
I put the puppy in the bed of my truck and stopped at Wal-Mart on the way home to pick up dog shampoo, worm medicine and some food. When I got home I handed the puppy to Tamica. I told her not to let that little flea bag touch the floor until she had washed him at least twice.
We named that little puppy Victor because he looked like the RCA dog. Tamica complained over the first few days that he wouldn’t eat his food. I was afraid to worm him because he wasn’t strong enough. Over the first few days, I followed him around to check his stool for worms. I then discovered why he wasn’t eating. His stool was full of bug carcasses. He had been surviving at that house eating beetles!
Over the years he has been the best dog I have ever had. His job was protecting the girls. If they went outside to go to the freezer or the washer, Victor followed them. If Tamica had a boyfriend over, Victor made sure the boy had one hand on his head. If one of the other dogs barked, I would roll over and go back to sleep. If Victor barked, I got my flashlight and my pistol and went to see what was going on. He was as loyal and good natured as any dog ever.
When (JC) and I got married and we merged our packs, she had three dogs and I had two. I explained to her about Victor’s and his “job” of protecting the women. He would follow her everywhere, even to the bathroom. Tamica once expressed a desire to take him with her when she moved out. I said he needed room to run outdoors and would not do well in an apartment. She reluctantly agreed and Victor stayed with me.Since we moved to Georgia, Victor enjoyed the good life. He caught many squirrels and worried quite a few more.
These last couple of years have been hard on him. When my mom passed away I ended up with her two dogs. Max is an alpha male Dachshund who gave Victor a hard time. They had a tenuous relationship at best.
Victor had several strokes and was having a hard time getting around. He was almost totally deaf and practically blind. I wouldn’t have bet that he would’ve made it to Christmas 2010. His will to live and to cope with his infirmities was amazing. The survival skills he’d learned in the yard of that turquoise house were strong in him.
When I took him to the vet this morning to have him put to sleep, I almost couldn’t do it. We sat on the tailgate together waiting for the vet to come out with the shot. He never saw the squirrel, but he waited patiently with his head in my lap. I couldn’t talk to the vet to answer her questions, but I did manage to go back inside and pay the bill.
I buried Victor in the backyard in the shade of an old pecan tree that the squirrels escape into near the garden plot. It was some hard digging. I was listening to the Labor Day 500 countdown on the radio as I dug the hole. As I laid Victor in a sleeping position in the bottom of the hole, Rod Stewart was singing “You’re in my Heart”.
RIP Victor. We will go squirrel hunting again one day. Wait for me at the edge of the pines boy.