Dogs We’ve Loved – Columbia Metropolitan Magazine

Elizabeth was still in high school, and she, Betsy, and I made a commitment to save that puppy. You have to realize what we were dealing with: we had a 4 day old puppy that was born 10 days early and now had no mother. He was not as big as a very small mouse.

The first step was for Betsy to have a serious discussion with the vet about what steps we should take if we had a chance to succeed. She said that since the pup had been able to nurse for several hours that first day, she should have received enough colostrum from her mother to give him the necessary antibodies to have a decent chance of survival. She gave us a very strict regimen to follow for several weeks, the first two being the most critical. Elizabeth, Betsy, and I agreed to split shifts taking care of him.

By then we had decided to call it Bizzy, after Izzy. Bizzy lived in a box in the kitchen with a light on to keep him warm. Every three hours, throughout the day, formula had to be given with a dropper. We use warm, wet cotton to clean his little bottom to emulate his mother licking him to stimulate a bowel movement.

Betsy started buying little stuffed animals his size to put in the box to help him feel like he had siblings around. As she began to grow, Betsy increased the size of the animals to Bizzy’s size. She never saw another dog until she was 8 weeks old. For the rest of her 17 1/2 years, Bizzy would have an affinity for stuffed animals and always had several to carry and snuggle with.

He developed a very unusual character trait that I am convinced stems from the way he came into the world. We call it “trance”. He would take one of his favorite animals, hold it in his mouth, wrap his forelegs around it, lie on his stomach and wander with his eyes open, actually going into a trance. He could wave his hands in front of his face and get no effect. It can last five to ten minutes, and he really was somewhere else while he was in a trance. I never saw it levitate, but we always hoped it would.

Bizzy became a constant companion and made many friends with his very unusual personality. As a bonus, he was a great hunting dog. He had a superior nose and was highly praised for his ability to follow a wounded deer. Bizzy was such a complete success as a family dog ​​that after a couple of years, Betsy and I thought we’d like to carry on his family line. Of course, the first step was to find him a wife. Betsy investigated and found Blossom in Aiken, a 6 or 7 week old tricolor female.

Blossom quickly adapted to life on the farm. Like Bizzy, she lived in the house, but outside she was a born hunter. She was extremely fast and agile and could jump incredibly high. She would chase anything, but her favorites were squirrels and moles. If she smelled a mole on the ground, she would start digging. She couldn’t be denied. She could dig a 50-foot trench in the yard until she found the mole, which she would immediately kill and abandon. Good ride on the mole, but very hard on the grass.

We saw the results of his efforts on numerous occasions as he handed out his squirrel trophies on the back steps. His hunting technique was to park under a tree with a squirrel inside and remain motionless, sometimes for several hours. Sometimes he would lure the squirrel to work its way up the tree bit by bit, trying to taunt Blossom. He would remain motionless as the squirrel got closer and closer.

The fatal mistake would come when the squirrel didn’t realize how high Blossom could jump. He would jump off the ground with an unbelievable leap, climb several steps up the side of the tree before the squirrel could react, and then lean out of the tree with the surprised squirrel between his teeth, shaking his head violently as he climbed down. . The squirrel would be dead as a stone by the time he landed.

Bizzy and Blossom had two litters together. The second only had two puppies. We gave the female to Johnny Johnson, our farm manager, and kept the male, naming him Weston. Weston was a great dog with a wonderful disposition, but he unfortunately spent most of his life in the shadow of his wonderful parents. We kept telling him, “One day, Weston, you’re going to be the number 1 dog!”

In early 2010, Betsy and I went to Aiken and purchased a 12 week old Jack Russell that we named Dottie. We selected her from a large selection of puppies for her good looks and particularly for her calm and affectionate nature, which is what we always look for in our dogs. Dottie immediately became my constant companion. She and Bizzy were so much alike in appearance and mannerisms that she often mistakenly called her Bizzy.

He went almost everywhere with me. I was working in a “dog-friendly” office at the time and discovered how relaxing it was in the middle of a very hectic day to get out with your dog and walk around the neighborhood. I wish I had known that trick when I was young and looking for girls. It’s amazing how many cute girls will stop you at Five Points to visit your dog!

Dottie had a very endearing trait that reminds me of Bizzy’s “trance.” She loved to watch television, especially animal shows. She could be fast asleep and I’d be like, “Dottie, you better come look!” She would jump up, run to the television, and watch intently until something else came on.

We have had many great and wonderful dogs and have loved them very much. I am often asked, “Do you have a favorite?” I’ve thought about it a lot over the years, and I have a bunch of favourites. By the time I had each one of them, I would have said, “This is the best dog I’ve ever had.” Amos, Bizzy and Dottie are the best of the best.

Our lifelong friend Cal McMeekin once said, “Damn Cate, when I come back in my next life, I want to come back as Billy Cate’s dog.” I replied, “Hell Slick, when I come back in my next life, I want to come back as Billy Cate’s dog!” There is no question; They have had a good time.

Editor’s Note: Adapted from The farm: the relationship of a family with its land by Billy Cate.