One morning, when I was about eight, I was awakened to a furry ball of energy licking my face all over. It was a brown and white Springer Spaniel.
“We bought you a dog,” Mom said. What she really meant was, “We bought a hunting dog for Dad but if we say it’s for you maybe you will take care of him.” I’m sure I didn’t. Knowing children like I do now, after raising five, I'm sure I promised lots of things but following through? Not so much. But I got to name him and since he was spotted I called him Freckles.
What he really was, was a socialite in a dog suit. He made the “rounds” every morning from one end of the town to another. You could almost set your clock by him. My best friend, Pam Robinson’s house at 8:15, the Barney’s house at 8:18, across the canal bridge at 8: 22, and so it went until he had noised into everyone’s business.
He was the worst hunting dog on the planet. Dad would shoot a pheasant and send Freckles to retrieve. When he came back he had a mouth full of feathers and a mangled bird that looked like a mud-wad with a beak and pitiful bird feet sticking out. There was no way to salvage any bit of a bird that Freckles retrieved. So Dad gave up on him and let him do what he did best, ramble all over town in his tongue hanging out and a sloppy look of contentment.
One day someone came to the house and told us they had found Freckles dead by the side of the road to Richfield . We retrieved him and buried him and then we cried.
He had been shot.
A long time later a farmer came to confess. Dogs had been into his sheep and when he saw Freckles, ambling along with his loose-jointed way, he got so mad that he shot him. He said he knew all along that Freckles wasn’t one of the dogs that had been killing his sheep but he saw a dog and lost all reason. He said he was sorry. I think he cried.
I can’t imagine how much courage that man had, to come and confess. A man like that you have to forgive, and you would stand up and testify of his goodness before the judgment bar.
I think Freckles forgave him too. He was like that. He loved everyone.
I'm sure Daddy and Freckles are having some good times. I can almost see him, leaning against Daddy, waiting to be scratched behind the ears. And Mom is saving the very best table scraps as a treat for my furry friend. I'm sure he is well taken care of.