By Neil Joiner
Ole Red just showed up in our yard one day. He was unexpected and uninvited, but looking as if he planned on staying a while. We already had two Cocker Spaniels that were longtime family members. Libby and Freckles were in a shady fenced area in our back yard with access to their own room inside the garage. They weren’t too keen on a free range Irish Setter joining the party.
Jane and I talked about what to do with Ole Red. We peeked out the blinds, trying to see if he would leave us alone. He wouldn’t, so we fed him, scratched behind his ears, and told him firmly that this was a temporary arrangement.
Red didn’t have a collar. He seemed healthy but obviously had a few years behind him. I wondered if someone decided to put him out before his vet bills started on the upswing.
He was a smart dog and savvy about highways, seeming to understand he couldn’t win a fight with a car. He had a wonderful disposition and a disarming smile. It only took a few days before Jane and I started talking about the advantages of having an unfenced dog, the protection he would offer against snakes and strangers and anything else that might come along. We kept trying to find Red a good home, but Red kept unpacking his suitcase.
Within a few weeks of Red having found us, I went to a Dooly County Chamber of Commerce meeting. There was a good crowd that day at Marise’s restaurant, maybe 25 or so folks. One lady was new to the area and had just started working at local radio station 3WN, 1550 on the AM dial. Most everyone else that day was a regular attendee.
When the meeting was almost over, President Mike Roper asked if there was anything else that needed to be discussed. In the most sincere persona that I could muster, I told the group that I wanted to express my appreciation for all that the Chamber had done for me through the years. I asked everyone to put their business cards in a hat, that I had something special to give away. We had a hat full of potential winners, some quite excited and some a bit suspicious.
I don’t remember the lady’s name from 3WN, but her card surfaced to the top. I told her that she had won an Irish Setter named Red. I figured we would have a good laugh and that would be the end of it. Then she asked when she could pick him up.
She told me she had some work left to do at the station, that she would come by later, on her way home. So that my conscience wouldn’t keep me awake that night, I told her that she didn’t have to take the dog if she didn’t want him. I told her how Red had dropped by without an invitation, but quickly settled in. She assured me that she would be glad to get him, and would see me a little after five.
We gave her a bag of dogfood and offered to buy some more. She thanked us, but said that she usually cooked for her dogs. She was going by Stephen’s Super Foods and buy a ribeye to help welcome Red to his new home. She said Red would have steak, a warm bath, and a soft indoor bed. I thought about asking her to take me too, but I was afraid Jane might agree to let me go. I didn’t really want to wear a flea collar.
That was probably 15 years ago. I’ve lost track of the time, but I thought about Ole Red the other day when I saw a story about the Flint Humane Society and their ongoing need for funds. They do a great job with limited resources, and take care of some dogs that don’t have anywhere else to go.
When I think about Ole Red, he reminds me what a difference that a temporary home can make. A few weeks in foster care and he was adopted. He found a permanent home with a nice bed, plenty to eat, and someone to love him. Flint Humane Society helps make that happen for a lot of dogs.
Ole Red wasn’t with us very long, but he sure left me with a lot to think about. He saw us peeking through the blinds that day. I’m sort of glad he did.
Donations to the Flint Humane Society can be sent to P.O. Box 393, Vienna, GA 31092. For more information call 229-268-7030, 229-322-1596, or check them out on Facebook. If you want to send a contribution in memory of Ole Red, I think he would really like that.