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White Dog Showdown

John W. Pinkerton


Okay, there it is again: that pointless memory.

I've replayed the movie of this memory in my mind too many times to count in the last seventy years: I think I was about ten when this memory originated.

At the time, we---Mom, Dad, and my little brother, Jerry---lived in the country or what we called the country.  There was country-country farther down the gravel road where a lot of Mother's folks lived, but the houses where we lived were far enough apart and backed by plenty of uninhabited woods to consider it legitimately country.

The house we lived in was originally built by my grandpa, my mother's father; my dad had remodeled it into a small but pretty nice home for us---at least it satisfied my ten-year-old needs.  I don't know who built the fence around the yard.  Yard?  Well, it was about an acre and a half of poor reddish soil which didn't support much vegetation other than sturdy oaks.  I truly hated mowing the “yard.”  It seemed so pointless: blow the dust off five feet of clay and then thrash a yellow-topped flower.

The fence separated us from our neighbors, the Floyds, who had a white dog who showed little interest in me other than the day I placed myself on a corner post undoubtedly to get a better view up and down the road: in the country one finds one's entertainment where one can.

Anyway, the corner post was large enough to comfortably fit my ten-year-old butt, and I was quite content to while away my time there.

My solitude was broken by a dog which slowly walked from the direction of our neighbor's house and planted himself about fifteen feet from my dangling feet and commenced to bark at me.  I suppose he considered me a potential interloper.

Being a neighborly kid, I barked back.  This initiated a bark-off which lasted for…what seemed forever being that neither of us seemed willing to terminate our conversation.

Initially I thought we were just having a little talk about the weather or some such mundane subject, but it soon became clear that we were in some kind of contest to see who could continue the barking the longest.

He would bark: I would bark: he would bark back…etc., etc., etc.

I've never seen man nor beast as determined as this fellow: although his barking was pointless, this fact did  not deter the white dog in the least.

Somewhere in this contest, I realized that the white dog and I shared a common trait---dogged determination: neither seemed willing to surrender to the other's nonsense.

At last, one of us surrendered: I suspect it was I who first realized further discussions with the dog were pointless…being that he repeated the same argument without variation; at least I varied mine from time to time.

I went back to my life as a ten-year-old which I have tried to maintain to this day some seventy years later.

The white dog and I have never spoken to each other again. 

I do wonder if he remembers that day we spoke for so long so long ago.  I certainly do…but why is beyond my comprehension.

Although I've barked at people often through the ensuing years, I do not recall ever barking at a dog again.

Oh, well.  That was not the only pointless encounter of my life---just the most memorable.