A pretty good idea


Sometimes a Corgi doesn’t have to go far to find adventure.

My wife Wendy comes from a fairly large Southern family and has four brothers. One of them, Steven, recently moved with his family to the Illinois side of the Mississippi River near St. Louis after retiring from the United States Air Force. Over the Labor Day weekend, Steven, his wife Sarah, and their kids, Charlie (14), Emily (12), and Joey (10), made their first visit to our remote Texas County outpost – and their first to the Ozarks.

Naturally, when Jamie heard there were going to be extra people around for a few days, he wasn’t at all disappointed.

“Maybe they’ll bring pork chops,” he said. “I like pork chops.”

With the remnants of Hurricane Isaac falling from the sky in the form of a misty, almost continuous rain, the first couple of days of the weekend were pretty damp. But the temperature was nice, and Wendy’s nephews and niece had no qualms about spending time outdoors, discovering and experiencing lots of aspects of south-central Missouri that they had no way to be aware of while living in Abilene, Texas, and Honolulu, Hawaii, where their dad had previously been stationed. They romped around, fascinated with all of the plants and animals at their disposal, and the fact that there weren’t a bunch of cars and buildings and noise (or B52s doing touch-and-gos).

Jamie enjoyed following the kids around the property in their endless, insatiable quest for fun. But as they did the stuff kids do, the Big Lug often found himself unsure that what he was witnessing had any semblance of logic or common sense, even if the young ‘uns (or whatever object they were playing with or on) weren’t in any real danger.

At one point, Charlie decided to climb on a large, tripod-shaped section of a tree that came down during the wild August 2011 storm.

Doug Davison

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” Jamie said.

The boy came back to Earth when his dad agreed with the Corgi.

On more than one occasion, the kids took turns sending each other into virtual orbit by wildly swinging our heavy-duty hammock.

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” Jamie said. Once or twice, I made a similar statement when the hammock-whaling got particularly intense. The kids even placed Jamie in the middle of the hanging bed and swung him – although not as hard.

“I really don’t think this is a very good idea,” Jamie said.

Of course, Isaac’s presence forced Jamie to be in wet Corgi mode for an extended time. Once or twice, he was offered the opportunity to set foot in the house by an unsuspecting youthful visitor.

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” Jamie said.

“Good boy,” I said. “Not before the Big Lug is thoroughly toweled off, and the water removed is used to irrigate portions of the Southern California desert.”

Despite all the extenuating circumstances, Jamie was inevitably rewarded for hanging near the youngsters, getting his furry frame petted and his ample belly rubbed dozens of times.

“This is what life in the Ozarks is all about,” he said. “I hope you children appreciate this. Someday you can tell your grandchildren about it.”

Despite the way Isaac gave the climate a gray, wet, Pacific Northwest-like look and feel, I spent pretty much all day Saturday outdoors monitoring the progress of the kids’ fun-quest. And I can certainly attest to the fact that Jamie wasn’t the only quadruped to benefit from the visitors’ presence. Our three horses and one doggie-donkey took full advantage of the situation, and ponied up to the attention bar for hours on end.

While the two Arabians (surly old Sur and big-motor Sean) got their share, our Tennessee Walker Bennie and John-boy Abe seemingly had a membership at the equine spa. They were both pampered for hours, as the three youngsters brushed them frequently, fed them about a million apples, and generally spoiled them in ways they never dreamed possible.

The kids even took turns riding them bareback. Bennie responded by acting as if that was his idea, walking cautiously around and stopping when asked to do so without the slightest fuss. In fact, I believe a lot of the activity he was involved in was his idea, as he would saunter right up to whichever kid was near him as if to ask what he could do to entertain them.

Kids kept saying, “he’s so soft – I can’t believe how soft he is.”

Jamie wasn’t jealous, but he knows an opportunity when he sees one.

“Hey, you want soft? We got soft over here 24/7,” he said. “You don’t know soft until you know Welsh Corgi soft. Here and now you have a chance to touch and know true soft.”

“Wow, Jamie,” I said. “Is that really necessary?”

“Uh, let’s see,” he said. “Yes. I feel it’s my duty to educate these young people. It’s important to eliminate ignorance whenever and wherever possible.

“They need to experience unadulterated soft.”

“How noble of you,” I said.

As everything calmed down a bit late Saturday afternoon, Charlie chilled out on the couch for a while and Jamie allowed him to have a dog in his lap.

“I’m pretty sure this is a good idea,” Jamie said. “Yep, this, young man, is what life in the Ozarks is all about.”

We grilled a pile of awesome turkey burgers Saturday evening.

“Mmm, turkey – that’s the good stuff,” Jamie said. “But man, those are some annoying birds. One time when I was down by the bridge messing around in the creek, one of those dumb things stole my baloney sandwich.”

“I think that was a buzzard, big man,” I said. “And if I remember right, it was Charlie’s cousin Alex who told that story – and I question its validity.”

“Turkey – buzzard – whatever,” Jamie said. “Actually, I think it was a turkey buzzard, and, um, I was with Alex when it happened. Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

“Oh, boy,” I sighed. “And I’m sure there was a crayfish in Alex’s shorts and one in each of your nostrils.”

“How did you know that?” Jamie said.

While Steven, me, Jamie, and the perma-pup Gertie chased the kids around outside, Wendy and Sarah spent part of their time putting together some amazing edible enjoyment – from awesome apple coleslaw to killer cake. Jamie was definitely on board with that program.

“I’m thinking we need to invite relatives over more often, because the menu seems to improve every time,” he said. “Or maybe put up a couple of houses in the pasture and let them stay.”

“They have their own lives, you know,” I said.

“I guess,” Jamie said. “Just wishing out loud.”

Before the visitors left, Steven said they might return sometime in the fall, perhaps equipped with tents so they can get an even better feel for the Jillikins.

“I guess that sounds like a good idea,” Jamie said. “Nobody went away with any broken bones this time around. At least no major ones.”

“I reckon so, big man,” I said. “I reckon so.”

“And maybe this time they’ll bring pork chops,” Jamie said. “That would be a good idea.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Jamie is a big ol’ Welsh Corgi. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Jamie allows his new friend Charlie to hold him on the couch during the Labor Day weekend.

“I reeeaally don’t think this is a good idea.”