Yard Dog Blues

He squatted down on his haunches and looked the old dog right in the eyes. His lips moved a bit, so I know he spoke, but I didn’t hear him, and didn’t understand what he said. The old dog did, though. I watched her face, saw her expression change. I know that sounds funny, but it’s true. Then she kinda cocked her head, curious like, and lay down, feet stretched in front of her. All that meaness seemed to disappear, and I coulda swore I saw that old tail wag a couple of times.

She was the meanest of the bunch. Tell the truth, I was a might bit embarassed at how easy she cowed down, and it unnerved me something fierce. She was what sold the rest of these mongrels. Rattle a chain or kick the fence, and she’d come ‘round the side of a building with a snarl, and the gonna be buyers would back up real quick when she hit that fence. They’d wanna buy one of the other dogs, thinkin’ all the property they had would be safe.

Heck, she had been born mean. The other dogs, I had to mix gunpowder in their food. It worked pretty regular. That and a good quick kick at ‘em, that is. The ones that couldn’t toughen up is buried all over the property out back.

This man claimed he was lookin’ for the meanest I had, and I saw a sale. He was a meek lookin’ one, kept smoothin’ that little hair flap over his bald spot the whole time he was asking about a watch dog. Little fellow, with pants that didn’t meet the top of his shoes. I kinda figured he had suspenders holding up his britches ’neath that jacket .

“I’ll take this one,” he said. “This one understands me.”

I shrugged, thinkin’ maybe this one did. But he ain’t gettin’ her. No way, no how. “Nosir,” says I. “Ain’t for sale. Pick you out one of her younguns. They’s all good watchers.” They wasn’t near good as her, but they was close. Survivors, you might say.

Mean as the bitches of hell, all of ’em. Just not as mean as her.

“No,” he says, “this one. The others aren’t going to do. I need one that listens to me. I need this one.”

I took off my gimme cap, usin’ the brim to scratch my own bald spot, and was feeling mighty hot under the collar. Then I just shrugs, turning my back and spittin’ my chaw off to the side. “I tole you she ain’t for sale. Go somewheres else.” Then I head to the shack. My cuppa Jack and coke was sweatin’, best to drink that while there was still some ice left in it.

I hear a whisper and before I get turned around, that she-bitch hit me square in the back, knockin’ me to the dust. When I get over on my back, I was wavin’ that ole cap and yellin’ at her to “GIT OFFA ME!” and she just kinda snarls and let that drool drop onto my neck, but she ain’t bitin’, so that’s good.

The little fella just stood without sayin’ nuthin’. He snaps his fingers, and that old dog just takes her ole paws offa my shoulders and walked over and sits beside him. I swallered hard, still pretty pissed that she would listen to him.

“Take her”, says I. “She ain’t worth the price of a bullet. Hell, she ain’t even worth takin’ out back. I’m kinda glad to see her go.” I stomp off. I could still feel the slobber on my neck.

I was just glad she didn’t follow me.

Yard Dog Blues

Debbie Irwin

Fort Stockton, United States

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Artist's Description

I began to consider this story after seeing so many news stories of dog mills and dog fighters…

Artwork Comments

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