2014: The worst and best of times
Things didn’t go particularly well for Wally for more than half of 2014 – his first full year of existence as a Corgified Terrier.
He prefers not to talk about his experience of being forsaken and neglected on a property near Thayer and many of the details have been blocked from his memory, but Wally does recall becoming all too familiar with a chain and a tree.
“A little help over here,” he said, “this metal contraption is digging into my neck. And is this gooey spot above my caboose supposed to be there? It itches, but I think it gets worse when I scratch it.
“And I guess a little food and water would be nice – if it’s not too much trouble. I’m just sayin’.”
Wally’s life took a turn for the better in August, as he was one of several dogs rescued from their unfortunate situation near Missouri state line by some caring humans from multiple organizations and agencies – including The Animal Shelter of Texas County, where he was taken in and shown he mattered.
“Unshackled and free – free at last!” Wally said. “You wouldn’t happen to have a pork chop on you, would you?”
It wasn’t long before Wally had been treated by a local veterinarian and was getting proper nutrition and hydration. He was then ready for adoption, and a woman who helps run the shelter invited me to stop by and take a look at him.
“He’s adorable – and really strange in the greatest sort of way,” she said.
When I first saw the oversized Brillo pad looking back at me from inside a shelter kennel, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“That’s him!” I said.
For the last week or two of August, Wally enjoyed getting to know his surroundings at his new home at a remote Texas County high country outpost. He wasn’t fastened to a tree and frolicked accordingly.
Gertie (the Permapup) had to put him in his place several times.
“OK, OK, you’re the boss!” Wally said. “If I need to walk from one side of the living room to the other, I’ll ask your permission first.”
Wally and his long and low frame had to pass inspection by General Sur, the big Arabian gelding and top-ranking quadruped at the outpost.
“You call that a uniform, soldier?” Sur said. “I expect every member of this outfit to be neat and tidy during all non-combat hours and you look like a raggedy, mohair throw rug that just got run over by a battalion of cows. And are those legs, or are you some kind of canine skateboard?
“Well, soldier, I guess you’ll come in handy as a scout with your ability to advance under the bottom strands of fence rows. But you have a lot of work ahead of you if you think you’re going to make it here. Carry on.”
Wally got along with the hens from the get-go, but he did have to overcome some embarrassment.
“Hey, you girls quit laughing at me,” he said. “I can’t help that I look this way.”
My wife, Wendy, twice had friends stay for a week at our house. The first visitors were a couple from north Georgia. A woman from New Mexico followed about 10 days later.
“Allow me to show you around,” Wally said. “That’s the cupboard where they keep my food and that’s my bowl. Oh, and this is the refrigerator. Any questions?”
After getting used to the visitors, Wally enjoyed their company immensely.
“You’re welcome back any time,” he said. “What’s mine is yours and, well, it’s still mine.”
Wally thoroughly enjoyed his first big public outing at the “Festival of Yesteryear,” an event at the Raymondville Fairgrounds designed to benefit the community’s volunteer fire department. He spent hours checking out the various displays and demonstrations provided by artisans, businesses and organizations from several area counties.
“You know, Raymondville was named by Joseph Brackette in honor of his former home town of Raymond, Maine,” Wally said. “Its nickname is ‘Timber Town, USA,’ which was coined at the annual picnic in 1976. ”
“I find it amazing that you know that, and that most people who live here probably don’t,” I said. “I’m honored to be in the presence of a shaggy fountain of facts.”
“I’m just sayin’,” Wally said. “Hey, let’s get a bag of that kettle corn over there, or maybe one of those burgers over there. Mmm, that’s the good stuff.”
Another pair of visitors paid a week-long visit, this time a man from Texas and a woman from South Carolina.
We took them on a sight-seeing outing to Alley Spring and Blue Spring in Shannon County. Wally didn’t go, but he shared a few historic notes before we left.
“When you’re there, picture a thriving community around the big red Alley Mill building,” he said. “There were a lot of people living there after the mill was built in 1868; a post office opened and the community was named after John Alley, a prominent miller.
“And at Blue Spring, keep in mind its turquoise-colored waters are so deep that if the Statue of Liberty could be submerged in it, Lady Liberty’s torch would be a few feet below the surface.”
“Your knowledge of history and trivia never ceases to amaze me Walleroo,” I said. “Who needs a book when you have a Corgified encyclopedia?”
“Just sayin’,” Wally said.
“Hey, where did the sun go?” Wally said.
“Weather experts are wondering the same thing,” I said. “This has apparently been the cloudiest December in more than 20 years.”
“Yeah, and there has been enough rain to cause the ground in the yard to become really squishy,” Wally said. “I’m staying in – let me know when it’s April.”
“That’s not a bad idea big man,” I said. “Toweling off your furry paws and belly is a chore I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
“Yeah, but there’s no arguing with the results,” Wally said. “As I always say, ‘when you look good, you look good.”
“I have to agree, big man,” I said. “That’s hard to argue with. Well, boy, it’s 2015 time.”
“2015, eh?” Wally said. “Bring it on.”
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Wally is a Cardigan Welsh Corgi – Wirehaired Fox Terrier mix. Email Wally at firstname.lastname@example.org.