This didn’t happen to me, but it’s too good a story to pass up, and the friend who told it to me gave me permission to write it.
Seems that a young college couple in love got a dog. The boy duck hunts, and knew that the finest dog in the world is a Labrador Retriever, of course, so that’s what they got. The girl of course fell in love with the Lab, who ended up staying with her that fall while her boyfriend was out of the country for several months on his college co-op job.
As an aside, youngsters, be sure and check your college co-op plans beforehand, to insure that they don’t send YOU overseas during hunting season!
The girl and the Lab became even closer; he went with her everywhere, and that included a visit to friends from down around Natchez. It was there that the tragedy occurred: the Lab was hit by a speeding car. It was fatal.
The coed had to return to school, a college in the Starkville area, almost immediately after the accident, but a friend assured her that he’d retrieve the body and make suitable arrangements. However, the grieving young lady waxed remorseful on the four-hour drive that night. There was a Pet Cemetery close by the college, where several dogs that she knew her Lab had been friends with had been interred, and she realized that’s where her own Lab would be happier in his perpetual rest.
Early that next morning, she called Mama — who lived in Greenville, three hours drive from the college, and a little more than that from Natchez, where the recently deceased Lab was now facing imminent interment. The coed cried on the phone as she told her tale of woe.
She belonged to cry. When one’s friend has been taken in such a terrible manner, it is heart-rending. I understand that some people cry when their dogs other than Labs or beagles die. It’s okay, folks, to cry at such times.
Mama cried, too.
Mama called Daddy.
Daddy, already at work even at that time of the morn, responded with, “I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry.”
Daddy got into his truck, gassed up, and drove more than three hours to Natchez, to the friend’s home where the deceased had been prepared for burial. They retrieved the body of the retriever and placed it gently in the truck. Then Daddy left for Starkville.
He made the four-hour drive ( he may have taken the Natchez Trace, in which case it should have taken him closer to five hours, with the lower speed limit) and arrived while it was still daylight, to pick up his daughter and friends and be directed to the Pet Cemetery. The procession was fitting, as was the service and interment. Knowing about college daughters myownself, it’s my bet that Daddy bought daughter and friends supper, and they held a proper wake for the Lab. He then took daughter back to her apartment and turned toward home, another three-hour drive away.
That’s ten or eleven hours of driving, very little of it on Interstate Highways, if any.
And it was worth every mile of it.
At first blush, you might say, “Boy, that’s a lot of sugar for a nickel!”
No it ain’t. It is Above and Beyond the Call of Duty, but it’s a rare demonstration of love and understanding of a father for his daughter (and wife!). It’s a respect for the love that daughter shared with her Labrador, not to mention the duck-hunter co-oping absentee boyfriend, who perhaps would have done the same if he had been within 5000 miles, but now has a standard to appreciate and adhere to when he does become a husband, and then a father to a daughter, himself.
I have owned many, many wonderful Labradors, not to mention beagles, as well as a few other breeds, like a Black & Tan hound named Jupiter Pluvius, who inspired a book. I have buried nearly all of them in our own Pet Cemetery out here at Brownspur. On still nights, I can sit out on the balcony with a snifter of Frog Juice and conjure up their voices and personalities, revisiting fine times together, with the whole family they were a part of.
Oh, yeah, Daddy: it was worth the drive. Thanks from all us other daddies.
And that is a living column as it will never be complete.