Y’all know about Roy Rogers, Honeydew’s #1 Beekeeping Assistant.  And y’all know about Bucky Boy, my hound dawg who rarely leaves my side, but every now and again, will go sit outside and bay mournfully.  I think he’s a former reality TV star who got dumped off in a bar near Babb.  He really likes to hear his own voice.

But you don’t know about the Favorite Dawg – I try not to let Roy and Buck hear me in my favoritism, but Favorite Dawg has been with us since I was in high school.  He’s a purebred yellow lab that two crazy people in Florida purchased as a puppy when they were medical school residents living in a tiny apartment.  Clearly, he didn’t last long with them.  Somehow, the female half of this pair heard about my Mom, ever her daddy‘s daughter, who loved dawgs and had plenty of room in her yard for another.  Female half flew from Florida to inspect our place in Virginia, and all of us, and our other mangy pups, and must have been truly desperate to get rid of Favorite Dawg, because she flew back down to Florida, crated Favorite Dawg, and returned to Virginia with Favorite Dawg, who got his wings on that trip.

Favorite Dawg is named Cain, which is I-talian, as we say in the South, for Dawg.

My family has had a pack of dawgs over the years … dogs so sweet they rescued us from 18 wheelers when we were very small children … dogs so crazy they jumped out of the back of a pickup doing 60, committing doggie kamikaze … dogs so bad that even my Mom begged Dad to get rid of them.  And she’s pretty soft hearted when it comes to a dawg – the incident I’m thinking of occurred during a period when she had 3 children under the age of 5 at home, so clearly she was not in her right mind.

There have been plenty more good dogs than bad.  But there is something about Cain … I don’t know which one of us started calling him “Mr. Cain,” but we all have so much respect for this dawg that it stuck.

Mr. Cain is an adventurer – not long after he migrated from Florida, he wandered over to our neighbors’ place to inspect a running sickle bar mower, which cuts hay.  That journey left him with three legs and my parents with a very large vet bill.  He was pretty depressed about the incident for quite a while, but eventually gathered himself and soon found that he was just as fast on 3 legs as he ever was on 4.  I think he also figured out that he got an awful lot more attention from people everywhere as a handicapable, 3 legged dawg.

Mr. Cain is a therapist – after Howard died, he sat my parents’ feet for hours that stretched into years, rarely leaving their sides, always listening with his big, hazelnut eyes.

Mr. Cain is a traveler – while his home is on the farm in Virginia, he frequently visits his cousin-dogs in Georgia, were he gets to wallow in Grandma Betty’s koi pond, and chases the seagulls on the beach in South Carolina.  He “summers” near Babb, where he indulges in daily swims in our mudhole pond, assists in judging Beer Olympics from the back of his favorite pickup, and in his old age, pays no mind to the various critters, mountain lions, moose, and bears, that frequent our yard.

We probably love him more than it is reasonable to love a dawg.

I woke up thinking about summertime, and how glad I will be to see Mr. Cain.  Isn’t he handsome?

Mr. Cain with Kramer, who died a couple of years ago, supervising the cleaning out of the Chief Mountain House.

Mr. Cain being a poster dawg for July.

Photo credit on both of these shots goes to Brother Dear.

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