Thursday, August 8, 2013

A dog named Butterbean

Talking about Tennessee this week got me to thinking. I never did introduce you all to Butterbean. Did I? I mean I sort of talk about her here and there and over there too. But I don't really tell you the story. And I should. Butterbean had a very important role in my gypsy life. That's Butterbean, uppercase, not lowercase. Butterbean was a dog, not a plant. She was my first charge. My first housesit, and the first dog to win over the heart of this former cat girl. Butterbean converted me.

I'm not trying to go all Old Yeller on you and make you fall in love with a scrappy mutt, only to kill her off. So I'm going to tell you right now, Butterbean passed away last year. It's OK to cry. I have. But try to forgive me if I can't figure out whether to talk about her in past tense or present. She is still very much alive in my memory. I will try not to confuse you.

Butterbean was a mutt with a capitol M. She was part German shepherd, part who knows what. She didn't look much like a German though. Other than the coloring. She just looked like a mutt. Plain and simple. That's her on the right:

Butterbean, on the right, with her buddy A.J. 
Many summers ago, when I'd first received my degree, I picked up and left the big city for a house in the holler of Tennessee. And for all you northern folks, I'm just going to tell you a holler is a small pit-stop way the heck out in the middle of nowhere. It was my job to take care of Butterbean and the other animals and birds and the garden and just pretty much make sure nothing went haywire for a month.

Butterbean wasn't a very friendly dog. She wasn't even a good guard dog. She mostly just hung back out of the way giving you the stink eye, unless she learned to trust you. Seriously, you'd think that girl had a past. She didn't. She was just a very untrusting sort of dog.

But she trusted me. It all started with a game of chase we played the day I met her. She was on the other side of the big pine tree in the front yard. I crouched low, she did too. I'd start to make for one side of the tree, and she'd dart the other way. We went round and round pouncing one way and then the next. That's how our friendship began.

Neither one of us ever caught the other. And we never did play chase again after that. But I will always pinpoint that game has the moment our bond began. She tested that bond the day she killed the groundhog, but that's a story for another day.

Do you have friendships like that? Ones where you know the exact moment a friendship was formed? I love trying to recall the moment, the words said, the deeds done that sparked a friendship, canine or human.


  1. Great story! That ol' Butterbean scared the daylights out of me the first time I went over to Gordon's. He said, "Aw, don't her pay no mind an,she'll just finally leave ya alone." I had a hard time doing that and about jumped on the hood of my car! Ha!

    1. Really? That's funny. I just don't remember her barking at me or anyone else. The squirrels and that darn groundhog is about all I remember.