"The story of a boy and his dog"

The fight with the Grizzley

Mama said there'd be days like this but she never said they'd come in bunches like Possum Grapes. It seemed like there never would be an end to the bad weather we'd been having here lately.

First thing this morning it started raining like a cow peeing on a flat rock, splattering on all four sides. I’ll tell you now, if you ain’t ever seen that, you don't know what you've missed.

It was one of those hard rains that you couldn't even see the barn through. You just knew if you got
out in it, your tail would get wringing wet as soon as you stepped out the door.As if that wasn't bad enough, I had to take my rear end outside to the barn to milk old Bossy, our cow, something I hated to do anyway. So I already felt sorry for myself. Getting wet and having to milk, too… what else could happen to make it worse?

I'd wanted to go squirrel hunting this morning, but any self respecting animal with any sense at all would be tucked away somewhere in some hollow tree, snug as a bug in a rug or holed up somewhere in a den safe and sound.

Now, you gotta understand that getting wet when you’re hunting just ain’t the same thing as when you have to work out in it. It's fun; if you're hunting. But if you get wet for something like chores, now, that’s pitiful.

Anyway, I stuck my head out the door and called old Rusty, my red bone hound. I got soaked before I could even get the cotton picking door slammed shut.

We'd bred old Rusty to a black and tan hound belonging to my brother, Jesse. We figured that the offspring would really be top notch hunting dogs, since both Rusty and Jesse’s dog had the best noses in the country.

That black and tan was the ugliest dog I ever laid eyes on, probably because of the missing ear, torn off by a mountain lion in a fight. This happened a few years back while we were coon hunting down in the bottom land along the river bank a few years back.

He also had a blinded eye and one side had a big place that didn't grow hair at all because of an old injury.

He lost his eye last summer during a fight with a Grizzly Bear on the other side of the mountain.

We'd been picking berries, my little sister Flossie and me, when this old Mama bear attacked us for coming too close to her cub.

She would've caught us too. But that old black and tan heard Flossie screaming her little heart out, which surely would have been the case if that bear had his way about it. That dog came tearing over the hill like his tail was on fire.

I finally got the bear's attention by throwing a big stick at her. She took off after me at a run. (If you don’t believe a bear can run, you try it sometime. I guarantee you’ll look at bears in a whole new light, if you survive, that is.)

The old dog didn't even hesitate as he came between me and that ole Bear. Leaving the ground at a run, he dove straight for the bear's face, grabbed an ear and held on for dear life.

Shaking her head from side to side, The bear failed to tear the old dog loose. His teeth were dug into her ear, while he growled and whined at the same time.

The bear slapped at the old dog with paws that were so big they looked like skillets. She managed to catch the old dog a glancing blow to the side of the head, almost tearing his eye out of the socket with the first swipe.

The next blow laid the old dog's side open, the entrails hanging out. I knew for sure she'd killed Jesse's dog. But the dog never gave up. He hung on ‘til he ran out of strength.

When the bear finally got loose, she turned and ran into the woods, growling with every breath until Icouldn’t hear her anymore. I picked up the old dog and me and Flossie took off for home as fast as our legs would carry us.

When I had to stop and rest, Flossie ran ahead to get Mama and my sister, Shirley.

As Shirley picked up the old black and tan dog, I saw her look at Mama and shake her head. But Mama just told her to get home as fast as she could, so she could help.

(Jesse had never named the dog before the fight, he just called him "Dog" when he wanted him to come to him. He said there was no reason to give him a name since he was smart enough to know when he was being called without a name But after the fight with the Grizzly, Jesse took to calling the old dog,

"Champ" because he was sure a winner to us.

We thought we'd lose Champ the way his side was torn up. But Ma put the old dog's entrails back inside carefully, and sewed him back up with fishing line.

He lay there close to death for a few days and then slowly began to improve little by little.

He seemed to know that he was a hero, because even after he could get around, he played it for all it was worth.

Any time he wanted attention, he'd whine real pitiful, look at you out of those sad eyes, begging to stay inside, be fed or petted - whichever thing it was he was after.

Jesse acted like he hated the old dog, but I caught him down on his knees hugging Champ time after time. After saving my life, Champ could have asked for anything within our power, and we'd have seen he got it, if possible.

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