Pets of all types bring smiles

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2010

I’ve been spending some leisure hours (my bedtime reading) with Penny, described by author Hal Borland as a “free-soul basset hound.” It is a delightful story of a dog that knew how to wrap herself around one’s heart, yet just wouldn’t stay put.
Penny arrived at the 110-acre Borland farm home in the hill country of northwest Connecticut one March when a foot of snow covered the ground. When Barbara Borland opened her door, Penny entered as if she belonged there. The couple had lost a beloved dog some time before. They didn’t want another one even though the black and tan animal with a body as long as a beagle, but with shorter legs and longer ears, made herself right at home.
Penny hung around while they searched for her owner through telephone calls, personal inquiries and even a newspaper advertisement. They finally bought a license, registered as her owners, and hung a tag on her collar. The Borlands didn’t realize that Penny was a wanderer. She established a route, enjoyed the hospitality of other folks for a time, wandering back occasionally to the Borland farm. She caused problems like chasing cows and even blocking road machines
As I read about Penny’s antics, I thought about Sprinkles, the trailer park dog. We met him when we arrived in Cookeville, Tenn., with our 50-ft. long, 10-foot wide trailer which was our residence there for a time. A medium-sized, multi-colored dog of questionable heritage, Sprinkles belonged to a little girl in the park. He was anyone’s friend who wanted to take up time with him. And even those that didn’t. Everybody in the park knew him.
The Borlands referred to Penny as thinking of herself as a princess since she took over the household. Likewise, Sprinkles considered himself the king of the trailer park. Most of the time he enjoyed complete freedom, such as overturning garbage cans. One day someone with a dachshund came to visit a neighbor. When they let it outside, it ran across the road where Sprinkles’ dish sat. He guarded that bowl, whether it was full of food or empty. When the doxie walked over and sniffed it, the king attacked. But the doxie had an advantage.
When I rushed outside to investigate the commotion, the little dog was between Sprinkles’ legs, snarling and growling, attacking him with all its might. It was so short and protected under his body that he couldn’t reach it to defend himself. A woman raced out and snatched up the doxie. A relieved Sprinkles sat down beside his dish and licked his wounds.
The little girl moved and gave Sprinkles to us. Shortly afterwards, we gave him to a farmer. He reported that he was the best shepherd dog he’d ever had. However, Sprinkles had such a reputation in the trailer park that months after he left, he still got credit every time somebody found an overturned garbage can