Brooks and the Roadside Dog

Brooks and the Roadside Dog

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

Brooks and
the Roadside Dog

Normally, a dead animal would not have caught Brooks’s eye. The old man was used to seeing them on the side of the gravel road near his home in rural West Virginia. However, the dead dog lying partially in the road looked so much like his own Labrador, Jake, that he was compelled to pull the truck over to get a closer look. Jake didn’t leave the yard, but Brooks wanted to be sure. As he opened his door, motion near the tree line caught his eye. It was a smaller dog, definitely a mixed breed of some sort, carefully eyeing Brooks.

“Come here, boy,” Brooks called, but the timid mutt scampered a few yards farther. “All right. Have it your way.” Clearly the dead Lab was not Jake, so Brooks moved the dog to the soft earth of the shoulder and then continued in his truck the half mile down the road to his house.

The next day Brooks was returning home from church when he noticed the dead dog still on the side of the road. This time, the mutt was lying beside it. As Brooks slowly pulled up, the skittish dog scampered back to the tree line, his ribs clearly visible from lack of food.

“Come on, boy! Get in this truck and come get a meal!” Brooks shouted, but the mutt once again moved away from him and toward the forest.

“This must have been your buddy. Pretty broken up over it, ain’t cha?” The mutt slowly took a few more paces backward into the cover of the trees. “Dern you, boy. You gonna starve to death.”

As he drove his truck home, Brooks muttered to himself, “Dern dog.”

Later that afternoon Brooks sat at his kitchen table trying to concentrate on the newspaper. “Dern dog,” he said, unable to get his mind off the mutt. Thinking chores might help distract him and ease his frustration, he headed out the back door to the woodpile. Every stroke he made with his ax, he grumbled, “Dern dog. Dern dog.”

He finally made one last, heavy stroke of the ax into a large log. “Dern it!” he yelled. He stormed back to the house and grabbed his truck keys. He knew what he had to do.

Driving back to the spot, he saw the mutt was lying in the same place next to the dead Lab. Once again, he scampered to the tree line when he heard the truck pull up. Brooks got out holding a can of dog food. “Come on, boy. Come eat! You gonna die, boy, if you don’t eat!” But the dog again ran at the sound of the booming voice.

“You stubborn dog!” Brooks called after him. “You don’t want nothin’ but your buddy here to come back to life, do ya?”

Brooks looked at the miscellaneous equipment in the back of his truck. “You gonna make me do somethin’ silly, boy,” Brooks said as he grabbed a tarp and some work gloves out of the bed of the truck.

The dead dog’s body was heavy as Brooks hoisted it into his truck. “Come on, boy. Come with your friend,” Brooks said as he slowly drove the truck with the Lab’s paws hanging over the tailgate. The mutt kept a careful eye on the scene and then reluctantly followed the Lab, making sure to stay a safe twenty yards back. “That’s it,” Brooks whispered. “You come with your buddy.”

It took a while to get to Brooks’s home. The mutt followed the entire way, trailing at a cautious distance. As the truck reached the driveway, Jake, as usual, began barking and ran to greet Brooks.

“Be down, Jake! You gonna scare off our friend here!” Brooks called from his truck window.

To Brooks’s surprise, the mutt saw Jake and ran like a racing greyhound straight for him. Jake was caught off guard by the sudden rush of an unfamiliar dog. However, Jake had a gentle nature and he assumed an apprehensive stance as the mutt licked him again and again, playfully pawing him.

“You think that’s your old buddy come to life!” Brooks laughed loudly. He continued laughing, so hard, in fact, that he had to support himself on the truck. He watched with delight as the ecstatic mutt jumped all around Brooks’s old Lab. Jake stared at his owner in complete confusion.

“Dern dog!” Brooks bellowed with laughter.

Loyal, as the mutt came to be known, never left Jake’s side after that moment. Jake warmed to him and eventually the two wove a tight bond. The dogs served as Brooks’s faithful companions for many years. Friends and family swore it was the happiness these two dogs brought Brooks that kept him healthy and happy into his later years of life.

Shannon McCarty

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