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A Man and a Woman

Mick Stratton


No one would say he was a normal person, and all would say he listened to a different drummer.  As far as that goes, most believed he listened to a completely different band.  He worked for the local university in the Physical Education Department and also was involved with a gymnastics program.  In the early 1980’s, he had an opportunity to buy some land and took advantage of it but then didn’t have much money left over to do much of anything else.

He bought a shed to put on his land, and in it went most of his worldly possessions.  He also bought a large tent to put on the land to sleep in. Because of the gymnastics school and the university he had access to shower facilities so he could stay reasonably clean.

He decided that during the summer he should build a cabin to live in for the fall and winter.  He had a little money in the bank, so he bought the lumber as he built the cabin so there would be minimal waste.  His tools were a chainsaw, hammer and nails.

With all the needed equipment, sparse as it was, he began construction.  None of his friends could believe that he was doing this and several came out to see. Not to help, just to see what they thought was madness.  Hence he was the only human involved in the construction though he did have the companionship of his two dogs.

The dogs, themselves had interesting histories.  The smaller of the two was a yellow bitch that was given to him by his best friend, but he didn’t want her.

A couple of years earlier his favorite dog of all time, one he had for over ten years, was killed by a truck.  From what he could tell when he found the dog, it seemed as if the truck actually swerved to hit him. The dog was traffic wary, regularly crossing all kinds of roads from farm roads to city streets to by-passes; so it was hard to see how he would have wandered into traffic. (For those of you who are interested, there will be another story about the wanderings of this dog. He truly was phenomenal.)

If you are going crazy about an irresponsible dog owner, you need to understand this was a different time, and things were much different than now.  Dogs rode in the back of pickup trucks, went into bars with their owners, ran free in parks, and wandered wherever they wanted.

An example of this particular dog’s wandering was one morning he went to the municipal lake, killed a nutria (yep, they were around back then) and dropped it off at the best friend’s house for the female German Shepherd living there.  He then went and got another one and took it back to the man’s house where the dog’s mate and 6 young pups lived.  Those pups loved chewing on that nutria!

Anyway, his best friend gave him this yellow bitch who was the granddaughter of the dog killed by the truck.  His buddy said he noticed his friend was lonely, and this dog could fill the void in his heart.  He told his buddy to keep the damn dog: he didn’t need it. And besides, he didn’t have a heart to have a damn void in it!

However the dog kept following the man around when he visited his friend, so eventually he took her home with him.

The other dog was a big white male that looked like it was a cross between a Samoyed and a German Sheppard.

This dog the man stole…well, sort of.  One night when he went to visit his friend, he heard a noise in the underbrush by his friend’s house.  He went to see what it was, and he saw this big white dog with a chain attached to his neck.  The other end of it was wrapped around a yaupon shrub.  The man talked gently to the dog, got his confidence, and then took the chain off, releasing the dog.

He went into his friend’s house and asked about the dog.  His friend didn’t know anything about it.  When he left, the dog was still under the yaupon.  He went back in the house and got his friend to come outside and showed him the dog.

Next time he visited his friend, the dog was there.  He went up to examine him and saw he had a rope around his neck that had been chewed through.  The man took the rope off, went into the house and asked his friend about the dog. His friend said the dog had left shortly after the man did the other night and hadn’t been back.  The man said to his friend, “Come out here and explain this.”  His friend had no explanation.  When the man was leaving his friend’s house the dog was still there.

This same sequence happened one more time; the dog being under the yaupon when the man arrived. This really angered the man, so he told his friend, “If that dog is still there when I leave, I’m taking him with me.”

His friend tried to talk him out of it saying, “That is not your dog; it has a collar; what you are doing is theft, and you could get in a lot of trouble.”

“Theft be damned!  Whoever is tying that dog up is a sorry individual that obviously knows nothing about dogs.  Tell me, just who is to say who owns a dog?”

When he was leaving the dog was still there, so he opened the tailgate to the truck and said “Get in.”  The dog did.  So when he was building his cabin, he had two dogs, a yellow bitch and a white dog. The three considered themselves their own pack and were quite content.

When he had finished his cabin, it was 20 ft. by 30 ft. with a loft on top for sleeping.  He didn’t have running water, so he built an inside compost toilet of his own design.  The house was heated with a wood burning stove in the center of it. He used a Coleman camp stove and the wood burning stove to cook on. He used kerosene lanterns for light.

He did have water within 200 feet from the cabin. It was where his garden was, so he hauled water into the cabin from there.  It was on his agenda to bring the water to the cabin, but he would have to rent a bulldozer to make a direct path, otherwise the pipes would have quite a distance to go.

By the time he finished the cabin, it was fall, and so summer heat was not a problem.  During the winter he used the wood burning stove when it got cold at night.  The next summer it was hot, so he got out the chainsaw, cut a door through the wall in the kitchen area and added a 12 ft. by 12 ft. screened in porch.  He then designed and built a couch that could be opened into a bed to sleep on.  It was more than adequate.  In fact, since he could hear all the night sounds, he thought it was fantastic.

Though everyone considered him strange, he did have reasonable people skills and had no problem socializing with others in the department.  Every Friday a number of them went to “Happy Hour.” He was always there ready to debate, laugh and make merry with the rest of them.

There was this one young lady who was assigned to observe him teaching a class that she was also teaching because, despite his strangeness, he was considered an excellent teacher.  She started to come to happy hour and seemed to take an interest in the man.  She would listen to him and then find a point to argue with him about and sometimes win.  She was very quick witted and would often make fun of him in a very subtle manner...or not so subtle.

Instead of being angry, he was fascinated with her boldness and started to flirt with her.  Like most men he thought he was in charge, but of course she had it all under control.

After some time he invited her out to see his place in the woods and meet the dogs.  The yellow bitch wouldn’t give her the time of day, but the white dog liked her.

She liked the place and the man, so she started coming out to help do things.  He taught her a number of skills including how to shoot.  One time he lined up six beer cans and told her to shoot all six with his .357 magnum revolver.  She brought the gun up and quickly, one after another, hit all six of them. He said to himself, “If I were to marry this young woman, I surely would not cheat on her because she would shoot me dead.”

The yellow bitch’s grandmother, another dog the man once had, was more wild than tame.  She looked just like a dingo, and he often wondered if she might not have dingo in her. The yellow bitch was just like her grandmother often catching rabbits and eating them when dog food was readily available.

One day when the man and the woman were working around the cabin, the yellow bitch dropped a dead half-eaten rabbit at the woman’s feet.  The woman looked at the man and said, “What do I do?”

He said, “She is making a peace offering to you and is saying, ‘I have decided to accept you as being one of the pack.’  So bend down, pick the rabbit up and pat her on the head.”

The woman squatted down, picked up the rabbit, said to the dog, “Thank you.  I really appreciate this gift,” and patted her on the head.

The yellow bitch looked at the woman, wagged her tail, walked about 10 feet away and lay down in contentment.  She had accepted the woman and would protect her from all if need be.

Later, the woman got a female Doberman Pincher pup. The pup was incorporated into the pack, so it now consisted of one man, one woman and three dogs.

An oil company contacted the man about buying a right of way for laying pipe through his property.  He negotiated with them, got a good deal and let them do it.  Through the middle of his property was a 50 foot swath that he later seeded with grass and incorporated into a larger pasture.  However, in the beginning it was just a large clearing going from the creek up to the other end of the property, a little less than half mile long.

One night while they were in bed, they heard one or more truck engines roaring.  All the dogs were barking; the man got down from the loft and looked out the window toward the right of way.  He saw truck lights and figured some kids had found the right of way and thought it would be great fun to tear up and down it.  This the man would not tolerate.

He strapped his revolver on, grabbed one of the shotguns, looked up at the woman and told her to get the other shotgun but stay in the cabin.  Under no circumstances was she to leave it.  He started heading toward the right of way with the three dogs at his side.  By this time the Doberman Pinscher was full grown, so these were three scary looking dogs; black, white, yellow, and all were gaunt like wolves.

There were two trucks and both of them had just turned around down by the creek.  They began to zoom up the hill with one ahead of the other. The man stepped out in front of the lead truck about 50 yards away but heading straight for him.  He pointed the 12 gauge shotgun at the driver’s windshield and yelled at him to stop.

Boy, he did!  Both of the trucks slammed on their brakes.  In their headlights was a man with a revolver on his hip pointing a shotgun at them with three large dogs at his side and more…the look on his face made it clear to them that he would have no hesitation in pulling the trigger.

The man asked them what they thought they were doing.  Since all he got from them was stuttering, he interrupted and told them to get the hell off his property.  The words were barely out of his mouth when the trucks turned and roared off the property.

The man turned to go back to the cabin only to see the woman standing behind him with the other shotgun in her hands and a determined look on her face. How naive of the man to think a strong woman would just do what he said!

He shook his head, put his arm around her and said, “Let’s go home, Sweetie.” But to himself he said, “This one I’m going to marry.”

So home they went, three dogs, a man and a woman.