Lucky Wows the Sheriff

Lucky Wows the Sheriff

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

Lucky Wows the Sheriff

Lucky was a dog of huge proportion—actually, disproportion. His neck was thick, his head was skinny, and his eyes were too close together, giving him a slightly stupid expression. I once had a friend who described his horse as a “cross between a freight train and a wire gate.” When I found that big splotchy dog, stray and starving by the side of the road, I thought the description suited him, too. But in spite of his appearance, I brought him home to live with us.

Late one night I came home from work, driving up the long lane to our house in the country and—as usual— turned the car around in preparation for leaving the next morning. Lucky—also as usual—watched this routine, wagging mightily, and waited for me to open the car door. But this night, as I stepped out of the car, Lucky growled menacingly, barked and advanced toward me. I backed into the car seat and quickly closed the door against my big black-and-white, cow-spotted friend, who had now turned aggressive. In disbelief I contemplated the hundreds of cans of expensive dog food we had served him. This is how he thanks me? I sat there, safe in my metallic cocoon, puzzled. Then as my head cleared, I took heart and reasoned the dog was just playing a game and that it was silly to sit there in the dark. I pushed the door fully open. Lucky exploded, shooting up to display his full six-foot-plus “Bigfoot” imitation. Throwing his body weight across the door, he slammed it shut. Then standing guard, he never took his too-close-together eyes off the door again.

Our Tennessee fall had deepened. Though leaves would blow down from the woods for at least another month, frigid nights already frosted the leaves banked by our doorstep. Just as I was getting good and chilly, my husband drove into his parking spot beside my car. “What are you doing sitting out here in the cold?” he asked.

I cracked the window open an inch to explain that Lucky was now crazy and I could never get out of the car again.

“Well,” my practical husband said, “Let’s go see what’s upsetting the big fellow.”

Now that the mister was home, Lucky permitted me out of the car. As we approached the doorstep with a flashlight, the dog ran ahead and began a bizarre impersonation of a giraffe imitating a pointer. That’s when we heard it—ormore accurately, felt it—a buzzing sound from beneath a leaf pile. It could mean only one thing: a rattler. (When I encountered my first rattlesnake, what surprised me was that rattlers don’t rattle; it’s your teeth that rattle as the chills run up and down your spine.)

For some reason, the snake remained coiled in its chosen spot until the county sheriff arrived with his deputies and shotguns. As we raked the leaf cover aside, we saw that the timber rattler was so large that a man could not girdle it with the thumbs and middle fingers of both hands. We could also see why the snake had remained in place for so long. Picture a dozen little snakes squiggling around in all directions; with two large, uniformed deputies, armed with garden rakes and shovels, scrambling to collect the snake babies into a tall container; and a great black-and-white dog running back and forth, barking, dancing and “helping.”

When the dancing was over and all the snakes caged, the exhausted sheriff said that he had worked the hills for many years, but had never seen “such a snake.” Then he said, “Ma’am, it’s a good thing you didn’t step in that mess o’ snakes in the dark. That dog saved your life tonight. I think you owe him a big Angus steak.”

We all looked at Lucky who had returned to normal: a homely, friendly and slightly stupid-looking dog, wagging his tail at his teammates. He was an unlikely hero, but a hero all the same.

The sheriff then paid Lucky the highest compliment a country dog can receive, “Yes sir, that’s a fine dog you’ve got there.”

We had to agree.

Mariana Levine

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