Don Hoover

© Copyright 2018 by Don Hoover

Photo of Don and Butch.

There used to be an old one-eyed dog who followed me about,
Every morning and every afternoon as I walked my paper route.
I didn’t know where he came from, and I didn’t know his name.
We didn’t trust each other much, but he followed just the same.
He had a gimpy right back leg, which he favored all the time,
But he still looked rough and dangerous, though perhaps well past his prime.
He never got close enough to pet and that was fine, you see,
Cause I was a little bit scared of him, and he wasn’t sure of me.

He followed that first summer, and through the cooling fall,
Then one cold December morning I didn’t see him at all.
I picked up my papers at four A. M. and started my usual route,
Up behind the bowling alley where the hobos and drunks hung out.
As I walked along the railroad track I saw the shadow of a man,
In the darkness walking toward me with something in his hand.
I changed my path, but he changed his too, so I knew I would have to fight,
I threw off my sack of papers, and tried to hide my fright.

I had myself a Boker knife with a razor edge on the blade,
But with frozen fingers I fumbled, so in my pocket the Boker stayed.
I was only twelve years old and about to meet my end,
As the man raised his arm to strike me, I sure did need a friend.
I saw the menacing expression on his face turn suddenly glum,
As we heard the snarl there at my side, and no longer was I numb.
The vagrant stumbled backward and vanished in the fog,
And I gained an appreciation for that old three-legged dog.

He had come from out of nowhere to save my scrawny butt,
And became my guardian-angel-dog, no longer just some mutt.
I came to know a true friend that morn, though I still knew not his name.
I hugged his neck and he licked my face, and things would never be the same.
That whole morning he stayed real close. I’m sure he sensed my fear,
He seemed to be trying to let me know I was safe when he was near.
We both walked just a bit bolder, with confidence in our strides,
And both our hearts grew warmer, with true friends by our sides.

He was quite a dog for just three legs, and having only one eye’s sight,
And more than anything else on earth that danged dog loved to fight.
He’d lay back as I tossed papers, and wait for a dog to bark,
Then hit them from their blind side and rip ‘em like a shark.
I think he’d never lost a fight, and needed help with few,
But when he did I jumped right in, cause that’s what he was due.
For six long years he tagged along as I walked from door to door.
We each came to know and trust, and love the other more.

One Saturday as I collected, I learned from whence he came,
A house full of kids on Hilltop. They said, “Butch is our dog’s name,
But we can’t make him stay at home for more than just a day.
He doesn’t like the children or the hurtful way they play.
They poke his eyes and pull his tail, you know, like children do,
So we think he’d rather just stay away. He’d rather be with you.”
They told me, “Butch had once chased cars till he ran plumb out of luck.
He was biting at the tires on a Chevy and never saw that truck.

He broke his leg and lost one eye and learned that lesson well.
He never chased another car, but cats and squirrels caught hell.”
They said they’d soon be moving and couldn’t take their pet.
They asked if I’d like to have him, and I said, “Gosh, you bet!”
The joys we shared ore the following years could fill a good-sized book,
If I took the time to write them down for you to take a look.
For six years we were buddies, watching each other’s back.
We were strong and tough and ready, to face most any attack.

One day two dogs jumped old Butch, and knocked him off his feet.
A great big dog had him by the throat, and dragged him down the street,
While the smaller dog ripped his belly and bit at his private stuff.
I dropped my bag of papers and charged hard in a huff.
I kicked the big dog behind the ribs while running at full speed.
He spun around once in the air, and Butch at last was freed.
The smaller dog was then sent yelping as the larger slumped under the car,
Where his head rang the sedan’s steel bumper. I know that dog saw stars.

After that day neither of those dogs ever barked at us again.
But I soon met the big dog’s owner, a little boy, maybe ten.
He met me at his mom’s front door with a rifle in his hand.
He said to me, “You hurt my dog. I’m gonna shoot you where you stand.”
I did some fast explaining about why I joined the fight.
They were hurting my dog,” I told him, “and two on one ain’t right.”
We finally agreed we both loved our dogs, and I apologized.
He put down the rifle, and a truce was realized.

Through sweltering heat and freezing cold, we trudged along together,
Delivering Nashville’s papers, in every kind of the weather.
From four A.M. till sundown, with some school time in between,
I enjoyed the company of man’s best friend through the years I was a teen.
You have to know I loved that dog, and I know he loved me.
We were meant for one another. Things were how things ought to be.
He never needed much petting. A “Good boy” suited him just fine,
To let him know he’d done his job, and helped me out with mine.

Then one day it happened, as I’d long feared it might.
Old Butch was badly beaten in a very unfair fight.
The boxer who’d attacked us, was being ripped to shreds,
Till his owner came out with a damned oak board and hit Butch about the head.
He hit just my dog and not his own, so I shoved him off the stoop.
He landed backward in a rose bush. Butch and I flew the coop.
I grabbed old Butcher’s collar and kicked that boxer hard,
And cursed that man struggling in those thorns till we got back to our yard.

That’s when I nearly lost my mind when I saw what Butch incurred.
I’ll kill that bastard, that son of a bitch,” were my screams all the neighbors heard.
My mother, and I don’t know who else, had to stop me from going back up,
To kill that man with the same damned board he had used to hurt my pup.
Butch and I were devastated... totally heartbroken.
His fighting days were over. Both his fangs were broken.
No longer could he defend himself, much less protect my hide.
I’d have to keep him in a fence. That night we sat. I cried.

Old Butch slowly adjusted, to regular meals and that fence.
And I gave up my paper route, and he gave up my defense.
He hung around with Ginger, our spaniel, Momma’s pride,
Who never really liked him much but with him she’d abide.
I worked a year after high school and left poor Butch at home,
And when I went off to college no more would he roam.
In ’64, out in Yellowstone, I got a call from Mom and Dad.
They told me dear old Butch had died. That hurt my heart so bad.

Being a long, long way away when my best friend needed me,
Dragged me down a deep dark hole. I felt so damned guilty.
I longed to hug his neck again and have him lick my face.
I didn’t get to say goodbye or see his resting place...

He wasn’t much to look at, but he had a heart of gold.
And I’ve had lots of mighty good dogs, but never one more bold.
He was truly this man’s best friend, and I’m thankful that he came
Into my life and blessed it so. I’ll not forget his name... Butch

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