Curley
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63 G lowing coals popped and cracked as Daddy and I tossed pecan hulls into the fireplace. The day was cold and gray and I had to ride the school bus home cause Daddy needed to get the animals ready for a big freeze that was supposed to happen that night. The weatherman said the wind chill would be at minus eleven by the next morning. We had been shelling pecans ever since it got dark, so I was real glad when a horn honked and the shelling could stop, for a little bit at least. Daddy went outside, stayed a long time, but when he came back in he had a black and white border collie on a leash. That was the first time Curley and I met. Daddy said Ben Stowe, our neighbor about two miles over, brought Curley to us till things warmed up. They were planning to stay in town till the thaw set in, so nobody would be at his place to keep the ice broken Curley 65 Curley smack between me and a rattler as big as a fire hose. The snake was hissing, swaying its head back and forth, and shooting out its tongue at him. Curley made every move the snake did, barking and barking, lunging and barking-then the snake got him! By that time Daddy was there with his pistol. Pow! Pow! He grabbed me up, hauled me to the house, dumped me behind the screen door and ran back for Curley. By then it was really dark; the light from the porch didn’t go far, but I could see Daddy on his knees, talking to him, trying to get him back to the house. Curley wobbled, but he was walking. His face looked kinda lopsided, like he had a mump. That snake had bitten him on his face, and he would die because of me and those silly ants! Daddy called the vet, talked a little bit, and then hung up. He stroked Curley’s back and talked to him, thanking him over and over for keeping me away from that rattlesnake. Poor dog wasn’t paying much attention because his head was getting bigger and bigger, and Daddy was worried about that. He said there wasn’t any use in taking him to the doctor. There was nothing he could do. Since he was bitten above the heart, other than a sore head, he’d be all right after the swelling went down. If he’d been bitten below his heart, there wouldn’t be anything anybody could do either. He’d just have to die. Curley lived with his big head for several days. He slept on my bed with me. He didn’t have to get off except to go to the bathroom. Even with all that attention, breakfast and suppers and goodies in bed, Curley never got spoiled; in fact, he acted kinda embarrassed about all the nursing I gave him. But he got well and was as good as new, except for one thing-he hated snakes! Daddy said he’d be a good snake dog after being bitten. And he was; Daddy was right. Curley prowled the Hill looking for anybody that didn’t belong there-snakes, skunks, raccoons, armadillos, possums- 66 Tails on the Hill he wasn’t even afraid of taking on badgers. When the moon was full the coyotes howled and screamed and hollered, and Curley did lots of barking to let them know not to come into his territory. Daddy had explained about the “territory” and how important it was to animals and birds and things. They respected each other’s territory most of the time, and when they didn’t there was usually trouble-like when I got into Daddy’s toolbox, I was in Daddy’s territory, and then I usually got in trouble. That night Curley wouldn’t stop barking, even though Daddy went outside and made all kinds of threats if he didn’t shut up. I stood out on the balcony and watched Daddy and Curley. Daddy fussing, Curley barking, stopping, turning around to make sure Daddy was still there, then barking and creeping down the Hill a little more each time. All the noise seemed to come from the same spot at the bottom of the Hill. Then Curley rose up out of the bushes with a bunch of shadows circling around him. They were taking turns jumping and nipping at him...


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