*We are starting a new ongoing series of posts…Family Memories…where we will share with you some of our favorite memories and stories from our family through the years. Having 14 children, you can be sure we have collected books and books- worth of stories worth sharing! I sure do love my family. And I hope you’ll enjoy reminiscing with us throughout these posts……
This first story is about a night where the call to protect my family knocked at my door. It definitely sent shivers down my spine!…..
The Night Our Dog Saw a Man In Our Yard.
It was late on a cold and snowy winter night that I was awakened by my dog’s insistent barking. The family had had a full and busy day; snowstorms aren’t frequent in our part of Virginia and one that dumps enough snow to play in is always welcome….for the children, that is.
On this particular day, the boys had enjoyed the white stuff to the fullest. There had been rides on the toboggan, courtesy of Daisy Belle, my faithful Bloodhound who didn’t mind being harnessed to the sled as long as she had me run beside her for company. We’d enjoyed snowball fights, built a snowman and eaten snow ice cream. Bedtime had come and we had all been ready.
But now my sleep was interrupted by Daisy with her barking. And it wasn’t normal barking. Daisy had different tones of voice for a variety of occasions, and I could usually tell right away whether she was challenging another dog, a human intruder, or trying to get the attention of someone in the house to order room service. This bark, delivered in the funny, baying tones of the Bloodhound sounded like her people bark but something was different. I lay listening for a minute trying to wake up enough to figure it out. What was she doing out of her kennel behind the storage shed? And what was that strange sound of doubt in her bark? She sounded uncertain somehow, not quite confident as she usually was when she accosted a stranger.
The direction from which the sound came was wrong as well. I heard her in the backyard, then I heard her from the driveway and the end of the house. Then the bark came from the back yard again, then once more from the driveway.
I was working as a deputy sheriff at the time and because of the nature of my job I tended to be a bit jumpy. I had seen a lot of mayhem and had my life threatened a few times. I quickly left the bed, donned pants, and took my revolver from its shelf in the closet. Then, tiptoeing quickly through the dark house I made my way to the kitchen from which windows overlooked both the driveway and the back yard. Again, Daisy barked from the driveway and looking out I could see her dark form clearly against the moonlit snow. Then she disappeared around the corner of the house and gave her hesitant bark once more. Instantly she appeared once again in the driveway and again came the strange, doubtful challenge.
By now I was satisfied that my dog was indeed barking at a person and that the person was behind and quite close to my house. As quietly as possible I opened the side door and stepped out onto the snowy porch. I took a deep breath, readied my weapon and suddenly jumped around the comer of the house. There in the middle of the moonlit yard stood the man who had aroused my dog’s protective instincts. A large man, heavy set and awkward looking, he stood silent and unmoving in the icy night air.
In an instant I was around the comer and confronting him. My pistol braced in both hands, I started to yell “Freeze!” but the shout died on my lips as I realized he was already frozen. It was the snowman.
Daisy Belle, escape artist extraordinaire, had been in her pen that afternoon while the boys had been engaged in snowman construction. True to form, she had waited until the household was asleep to make her clandestine exit for a little late night stroll and had been unaware of the snowman’s presence until she rounded the corner of the shed and saw him. No doubt she started barking instantly, but she was put off balance by the fact that although she saw a man, all she smelled was snow. Blooghounds are known for their powerful sense of smell and it must have been unnerving for Daisy to see a man scant yards away and not be able to catch a trace of scent from him. No wonder her usual confidence had been absent from her bark.
Wearily I returned my dog to her kennel and headed back to my bed, musing as I did so that while the keenness of the Bloodhound’s nose is legendary, I’ve never heard anyone brag much about their brains!