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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Socks' Story

On a spring day in 2001, ThePrince(Consort) and I were driving off the flats when, just at the top of the bank of Farmer's Hall Creek we noticed a yellow flash streak across the road in front of our car. "It's a puppy!" one of us shouted out as my prince slammed to a halt. He backed up a bit and there, at the old road into Rose Hill was a pile of brush. From behind it, suddenly popped up one, two, three, four, five! Five little mongrel puppy heads.

If you ever hear that I have gone to jail it will be because I actually caught someone dropping of a litter of puppies in the woods, because "after all, they come from wild animals, they can survive in the woods." After I had broken both this evildoer's knee caps I would have walked off calling out "see how well you survive in the woods!" as I brushed my hands in satisfaction. There is very little that can get me steaming, but people who are too lazy, selfish, maudlin and thoughtless to make even the worst of the possible "right" choices and put down a litter of unwanted puppies are at the top of the list.

Okay - off my soapbox - because really this is a tribute to Socks, who came to us out of the woods 11 years ago and last Friday, left us to go back into the woods. It was a very hot day and though she hadn't taken a walk in weeks, this time she decided to follow ThePrince(Consort) over to White Oak Swamp. Whenever she does go on that walk, she peels off and goes to some secret place she loves over there - someplace off the path and known only to her. She always rejoins us, often twice or thrice during a stroll, but certainly she's always there at the tar road, ready to head back to Jacob's Gut for a cool dip and sip. This time, she did not. BD said he saw her twice on this stroll and her breathing was labored - but she soon slipped away to her special place and though we've searched for her numerous times, she has not been found. We don't expect to see her again.

Socks was a mixture of every kind of dog grown in Upper Essex - She had little tiny paws with huge tufts of fur between the toes. She had the golden fur of a Labrador retriever but the thick ruff of a collie. Her triangular ears stuck out to the sides for years, though as she aged they pointed straight up. We would call her "Yoda" and "Airplane Ears" but always with the gentle tone that makes a dog feel loved. Her main activity was sleeping on the bed, her one virtue was that she wiped out the moles in our front yard. She had acute hearing and a stubbornness that precluded ever changing her mind.

Of course, when she came to us she was just a scrawny little yellow puppy, homely to almost ugliness, and totally unwanted. Of the 5 puppies we scooped up that day, BD found homes for 4 of them. He returned with this one little puppy and a pleading look of puppy depravation on his face. "We can keep her. We have hundreds of acres. We can certainly make room for one more. Between the two of us we have 4 arms, we can pet them all......"  TheQueen was not convinced. She already had 3 dogs. Nobody needs four!! But the menfolk in her life prevailed.

BD had to leave town for a week and he swore that if I kept her that one week, he would find a home for her when he returned. Of course - nobody can leave a woman home with just a puppy for a whole week and not trigger her possessive maternal instincts. I began to notice things were disappearing and one day my glasses vanished. I posted watch on that little yellow puppy and when she picked up one of my socks and dragged it beneath the dresser in the den, I followed. There was the whole cache of hidden treasures, all of them carrying my scent. This little dog was creating a den full of her beloved's objects. My heart melted.

Socks loved to be wet. She loved to sink herself in the dog swimming pool, right where the lane crosses the little stream we call Jacob's Gut. A few years ago she caught one of the severe tick-born diseases and though she recovered to some extent, from then on she began to retreat. She loved to get under the yurt and burrow into the soft dirt. Every morning she'd come up to the house to get a biscuit and visit for about an hour. Then she'd slink back under the yurt, to reappear at dinner time. She would follow Jack up to the house and watch Dog TV in the winter (the fire in the stove) or lie on the floor in the den if we were watching a DVD. When we went to bed, she went back out to her little nest of soft sandy soil.

In some ways, she became less of a pet and more of a neighbor who just dropped in now and then. But she always got to do things her way. And so Socks, who became our 4th dog, and then our 3rd dog, who, when Ike died moved up to become our 2nd dog, was here to welcome baby puppy Jack and become our 3rd dog again. Then, last spring, when Priss left us, she became our 2nd dog, and now .... she is gone.

Fare the well, Miss Socks, Yoda, Airplane Ears, Yellow Thing. Go back into the spirit of the woods and know you were loved.


  1. Really? D'you think she's gone away Or maybe she'll pull an "Incredible Journey" on you and show up...eventually? I dunno...but I believe the 'homing' instinct is (almost?) as strong as the 'wild' one...

    Hugs to you, Dear Heart and Prince DH!

  2. Lovely piece of writing, Bess. You and Socks were blessed by her presence.

  3. Lovely story of a beloved dog's life. Goodbye Miss Socks, Good Girl.

    There is some truth in the thinking that nearly all dogs are only a couple of inches from feral. For instance, there are the very big dogs that wander around on the Navajo Reservation.