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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dog Heaven on the Neches

Dog Heaven on the Neches

I heard about an old East Texas bachelor who had a small cabin on a few acres near the Sabine River. Seems like the last two fingers on his left hand were frozen shut from a boyhood accident. His only companion was an old mongrel hound, Barney.
Well, the old boy was out hunting one day when he got snakebit by a fat cottonmouth. After tending the bite best he could, he headed home, but along the way, he grew dizzy and sat to rest, He closed his eyes. His old hound lay at his feet.
When he opened them, he struck out for home once again, but the trail was different. Puzzled by the changes about him, he paused at a strange road with a fancy gate. Up the road a piece sat an elegant two-story house with music coming from the windows. A well-dressed gent opened the gate. “Welcome. Come in.”
The old bachelor asked where he was. “Things look different. And I feel different.”
“Why, you’re dead. Remember? The cottonmouth?” He smiled. “Don’t believe me. Look at your crippled hand.”
The old gent wiggled his frozen fingers in surprise. He looked up at the man. “Is this heaven?”
“What do you think?”
He reached down and patted his dog. “Come on, Barney. Let’s go in.”
But the well-dressed man stopped him. “No dogs allowed. Only humans.”
“Then I ain’t going in. If heaven ain’t good enough for my old hound, it ain’t good enough for me.” So he struck out along the unfamiliar road.
Around the next bend, he came upon another road that led up to a plain log cabin like his own. A jasper dressed in overalls sat on a fallen log. “See you didn’t take old Luke up on his invite.”
With a snort, the old feller replied. “Not without my hound.” He nodded up the road behind the smiling man. “What’s this place?”
“Why, this is heaven.”
“Heaven?” He eyed the undistinguished road curving through the forest. “What was that place back there with the fancy house and loud music?”
The grin on the younger man’s face grew wider. That was Hell.” He nodded to Barney. “Come on in. And bring Barney with you.”
Now, there was no sign on the second road, but if there had been, I figure it would have read ‘Port Neches,’ for our little city welcomes dogs of all breeds.
A regular dog heaven.
No, I didn’t know it either, and I’ve lived in the area for over forty years. I’m just dumb, I suppose.
Even before we built our house, we constructed a fence for our little dog, Cim. That was what we had been told the city required. Fences for dogs. So we complied.
But I kept seeing loose dogs. I’d call about them, thinking the city would appreciate knowing about the canines. Nothing.
I puzzled over it while I kept seeing more and more of various breeds roaming the neighborhoods--free and unhindered, chasing cats, eating garbage, and leaving ample evidence of their cavorting behind to help fertilize our yards.
Then it hit me, like the proverbial ton of bricks. A dog heaven. The city wanted to keep it a secret so Nederland and Port Arthur wouldn’t take credit for the idea.
But why the idea in the first place?
The only answer was that previous city fathers wanted to lessen the stress on its hard-working citizens so they decided to provide a entertaining service not offered by any other community, a haven for dog owners to give their beloved pets free rein and let the citizenry enjoy the frolicking of the happy animals.
What better way to wake up each morning than to see the different breeds of canines running the street and yards. Just the other day, I saw a Jack Russell terrier gamboling with the rare and elusive Basenji, but that was nowhere as memorable as watching a rare Bearded Collie and a Boston Terrier chase cats up my neighbors’ pecan trees.
Our city fathers have come up with a remarkable idea to help the city grow with this dog heaven business. They ought to change our city sobriquet from ‘Sapphire City of the Neches’ to ‘Dog City of the Neches’ or maybe ‘Canine City of the Neches.’
Visitors will flock in, and we won’t have to bother with a riverfront park project that’ll put Kemah to shame.
At the base of the sign, we should inscribe the words, "Give me your Rottweilers, your Malamutes, your Yorkies, your huddled mongrels yearning to breathe free."
A catchy slogan might be “A Dog in Every Garage!”
Who says our city doesn’t have vision?

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