Man’s best friend

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

He doesn’t need papers and he doesn’t need schoolin’. He can be black, brown, yellow, spotted, or anything in between. He can be large, small, medium, long’legged, short-haired, big-eyed or floppy-eared. He can come from some high-brow breed or straight out of the back woods.

His mama can come from England, France, Virginia, or Zuni. His daddy can have a &uot;Sir&uot; in front of it, a &uot;Jr.&uot; at the end, or just plain &uot;Butch&uot; in the middle.

It really doesn’t matter. Because it doesn’t take any of these things in order to have what no man should go through life without. And that is a good dog. Every man needs at least one good dog in his life.

A good dog doesn’t ask a thing of you.

He just wants to hang around, as long as you’re there. He’ll ride in the back of a pickup truck and not jump out at every stop. He knows his place and is comfortable with it. He understands you.

Somehow he seems to know when it hasn’t rained in four weeks or the tractor’s broke down or you just had an argument with someone close to you. Somehow, he senses your tenseness.

He doesn’t offer advice or make a bad situation worse. He’s just right there, like he always is, hanging around. It’s kinda’ like in the middle of all this turmoil that’s swirling around, there he is, this one constant in your life, just being there for you. If you don’t pet him, that’s all right. If you do, well, he likes it.

Oh, he might chase the cows sometimes when you’re trying to round them up and aggravate you.

He might occasionally bark when he shouldn’t or get in the way of the car or truck. He might even take off for a day or two sometimes.

But deep down you know he’s a good dog. And he’d do anything in the world for you.

So the next time you find yourself beating up on yourself for all sorts of things in your past and thinking the whole world is against you and no one understands you, try riding over to your neighbor’s house and getting one of those puppies he’s been after you about.

Bring him home and raise him. Ride him around in your truck.

Give him the run of your farm. Give him some old one-syllable name like &uot;Earl&uot; or &uot;Slick&uot; or &uot;Sam.&uot;

Feed him and pet him at least once during the day and let him hang around you and run in the woods and chase cows and bark at snakes. Let him howl at the moon at night and sleep under your back porch. Let him think he owns the whole farm.

But mostly, let him do what he’s the best in the whole world at doing.

Just let him be a dog. And he’ll thank you in a thousand ways.

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is