On March 28, 2018 I lost a friend who had been with me for almost 14 ½ years. To the casual observer he was a dog but, he was far more than that. I found him when he was just over 3 months old. I was an over-the-road contractor leased to Stallion, a trucking company based in Beebe, AR. It was 3AM and I was picking up a loaded trailer to take to El Dorado. Our offices were closed, there was no moon and the lighting in the trailer drop yard wasn’t good. While hooking up my trailer I heard a noise from under the trailer next to me. Moments later I heard more scuffling noise. Was it a person, an animal, a snake or what? I jumped into my tractor and retrieved my flashlight along with a hickory club with a steel core (A tool used to check tires for air but, also a great weapon for defense). When I stepped down from my cab I heard the noise again.
I pointed the light toward the trailer and a face coated with gravel dust peeked out. It was a young dog. I spoke to it and he responded by crawling the rest of the way into the light of my flashlight. He was skinny, hungry and friendly. I patted him and little puffs of gravel dust rose from his fur like smoke in the dim light. I checked him out and found it had no collar or ID and that it was a He! His coat was reddish tan with black marks as if a child had colored with a magic marker. His paws, chest and the tip of his tail were snow white. I shared some of my ham sandwich with him and made a friend. While he was occupied eating I got back in my tractor and pulled out of the yard heading for El Dorado. After I unloaded, dispatch asked me to bring a loaded trailer back to the drop yard at Beebe to make another round trip to El Dorado. I asked if anyone owned the dog. They said he was a stray and had been hanging around for a week. No-one knew where he came from and they were taking turns giving him lunch scraps. They called him Roscoe but, no-one was interested in taking him home. I told them if I saw him again I was going to adopt him.
That night around 1 AM I arrived back at the yard. While I was dropping my trailer and picking up the next one for El Dorado I saw the dog. Like the night before, he was creeping on his belly from under a trailer. He remembered me. I had another ham sandwich ready and a hubcap with water. When he finished, I gently picked him up and cradled him to my chest. He put his front paws over my shoulders and tightened against me with his muzzle alongside my neck. I had used all of my time and now I had to hurry to make my delivery appointment. As I climbed into the cab I felt a warm feeling on my chest and stomach. My nervous bundle of fur was peeing on me! In a rush, I rolled down my window, put it in gear and then headed south. The dog whimpered and climbed into my lap and with his nose buried against my stomach and my wet shirt, went to sleep. 150 miles later we pulled into Cooper Tire in El Dorado. Two things happened on the trip: Roscoe’s name changed to Dusty and he and I had bonded for life. Since my shirt and I now smelled like him he probably felt that I was his Dad. From then on I was ‘Dusty’s Dad’ and he was the son I never had! (My daughter’s both understood. If they made hand gestures behind my back I didn’t see them). He never barked once on the entire trip!
When we returned to Heber Springs for a few days off, I took Dusty to my vet, Dr. Patchell, for shots etc. She said he was definitely part Basenji. They’re an old breed of hounds that were used to hunt birds. They have cat like habits and had the bark trained out of them although they had vocal cords and could bark if they wanted to.
For a large part of our life together I was single and it was just the two of us. Each night at home he’d track me down and herd me to bed at ten o’clock and then climb in with me. His 65 lbs would push my 172 lbs to the side of the bed. He never lost his love for ham – it was his favorite treat. He was a gentle loving soul who never met a stranger – Democrat or Republican. When I married Carol 3 years ago, she had a Manx cat named Spunky Bob. Dusty and the cat got along well although the cat was the boss! Dusty continued his 10 PM herding responsibility which now included Carol. She became the ‘Mistress of the Magic Box that held Ham’!
Early this year, Dusty developed lung cancer and couldn’t breathe or eat. Finally, he managed one last slice of ham and cradled by Carol and me, Dr. Sartin gently put Dusty to sleep. Today, over a month later, we’re still looking for him around 10 PM and we miss him terribly!
End of story. Have a blessed day.