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Charley and Hugh, A Dog's Tale

Updated on March 19, 2017

Ode to a Faithful Dog

CHARLEY: (newly rewritten)
by gg.zaino

On the unpainted, open front porch,
he heard a sound, came to, and lifted his head.
An unlit pipe between his teeth,
Hugh squinted his eyes to focus,
craned his neck- then sat back.

Beyond his good years- those physically sound years,
the grizzled Vermonter continued to rock back and forth,
floor boards moaning under his meager weight.

Up the gravel driveway it bounced and rattled;
the familiar pickup truck approached his cabin,
finally coming to rest outside the open gate.

With two taps of the horn,
the driver beeped a friendly hello.

It was his great niece Heather,
who brought with her- a two month old puppy
the chubbiest pick of her Chocolate Lab’s recent litter.

On seeing the dog, Hugh, through impulse, responded gruffly
"I don't need no dammed dog, Heather,
I’m too old and don’t have it in me anymore.
You know it- I know it- and damn it- that’s that!”

Heather had brought a lunch for them both,
persisted for the next three hours,
and succeeded in placing the pup on his lap,
all the while, him, of course, shaking his head side to side,
mumbling something unintelligible.

Pulling at his sparse white beard with his left,
his right hand eventually gravitated over
for a quick scratch to the back of whimpering pup’s ears.
With an exaggerated exhale, Hugh continued to protest,
but it was plain, his voice softened,
his manner less rigid.

He couldn’t help but fall for the pudgy little gal on his lap.
This new arrival was Green Mountain stock,
born into a litter of four- both parents good hunters, pure-bred.

The old man's reason and heart were at odds.
He was bothered most by just how many years
he had left on the planet.
Considering the 8 week old retriever’s longevity,
figuring to be long gone, far ahead of the dog,
he had, but few years to give his new charge,
just didn’t feel right …
He told his niece that he needed some time,
time to think before adopting another dog;
the responsibility was considerable.

Hugh's previous hound, a Beagle named Danny,
left his side when the boy was fourteen years along.
He remembered the tears and trembling
that morning in February,
when the old boy simply didn't wake-
passed over in his sleep.

He swore that he’d never again, suffer another dog,
but here she was; whimpering, yapping,
smelling like puppy breath; something brand new.

The puppy never left the house that afternoon.
Hugh adopted the squirming mess of home sick, she slept in his bed that night.

Hugh named her after his very first dog.
Charlotte her name…

Sixty nine years before, on his tenth birthday,
she was given to him by his great aunt Elsie.
The mongrel pup, obviously lost, was found down the old lake road, rib skinny, and fearful of humans,
the reaction spoke a tale of mistrust and abuse.
But Elsie managed to coax the wary dog into her car
then spread the news around.

The dog stayed with her family,
until its strength returned.
Not a soul in, or around town, knew who owned her.
It was up to Hugh to give that lost pup a good home,
he did that,
and how he loved that short haired, brindle orphan
for the next 13 years.

But that was then.
Hugh nicknamed the eight week old puppy, Charley.
From the first, she was his new pal and partner,
and for the next nine years,
slept in the same bed as the old hunter.

They shared a good life, the man and his dog.
Hugh, forever grateful, to a niece that twisted
an old man’s arm until he surrendered.

That confusing day,
when Charley's devoted comrade, failed to wake,
she stayed beside him.

After two days of getting no answer on the phone,
Hugh’s younger brother finally drove over.
Seeing Hugh’s old Chevy still parked out back,
Ed entered the house.
He searched the cold cabin and found his brother;
found the two of them together.

Laying there faithfully atop the bed,
Charley’s head was resting, on his lifeless brother's chest.

She moved ever so slightly at Ed's presence,
looked up to him, the white rims of her eyes
under a furrowed brow,
carried the unmistakable look of despair.

Ed took the orphaned girl in after Hugh's funeral,
but she refused to eat, took little water,
and not long after, disappeared from his home.

News in the small town spread quickly,
the thought being; that Charley wandered off to die.

Far across town, she was found on the rise, overlooking the river,
Charley found her absent friend- a local found her;
the lifeless casualty of a broken heart.
She came to rest on old Hugh’s grave
at the Common Burying Ground.

Ed decided that his brother would favor the old girl
be buried just above him.

After careful excavation, to the depth of three feet,
she was gently lowered,
wrapped in the quilt she once shared with her best friend.
Old Hugh, and his ever faithful Charley,
as it should be.

Together, they remain...

gg.zaino 3/16/17-


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    • gg.zaino profile image

      greg g zaino 2 months ago from L'America- Big Pine Key, Florida

      debangee mandal

      Thank you for stopping in, having a read, and leaving a positive comment. I appreciate your time, but please accept my apology for not getting back to you sooner.


    • gg.zaino profile image

      greg g zaino 6 months ago from L'America- Big Pine Key, Florida

      Thank you, Ruby.

      Your feelings of loss, I know only too well.

      I'm still mourning the loss of my pup. Elliot left my side in January, and like your sister, I buried him here on the property, laying on his favorite fuzzy rug, with his collar and leash, a headstone of coral.

      I find it more difficult than I ever could have imagined when I see his pictures, run across and old tennis ball or lost toy in the backyard, or like yesterday, lifting the couch to vacuum underneath and finding wads of his shed hair.

      I will be visiting the local animal shelters to see if maybe I can find another fur ball that needs rescuing.

      Peace my friend...


    • profile image

      debangee mandal 6 months ago

      Beautiful story

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This was a wonderful, loving story of a pet that was loved so much. I thought of my sister's dog Dinkie. He was 14 when he died. She buried him in her back yard with a headstone. One day it was snowing when I pulled up in her driveway and saw her in the back yard. I went around the house and noticed she had a throw rug in her hand, I asked her why she was out when it was snowing, she said that she didn't want Dinkie to get wet. They are both gone now. I am shedding tears. Thanks for sharing...

    • gg.zaino profile image

      greg g zaino 6 months ago from L'America- Big Pine Key, Florida

      Thank you, whonunuwho ...

      I just recently lost my dog Elliot, in January.

      He was a hound of the highest caliber and the inspiration for this piece as well as a book I published in 2015. One that I started writing here on HubPages several years back.

      Peace whonu

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 6 months ago from United States

      This was a wonderful story about devotion to a dog and the animal's returning the same devotion. I enjoyed this very much my friend. Blessings to you on this warm Spring-like day. whonu