February 5, 3014
Got some light rain today. Still on it for another 16-page-signature, due on Friday. One of the points I make in my talks about going to Iowa every summer is that as we were always traveling eastbound on Route 66, while we met all the westbound people going to California and Disneyland and they were laughing and waving and they had innertubes on the top of the car, and, there we were, heading to the family farm north of Thompson, Iowa to talk about crops and eat five times a day, with these rip-roarin', happy-go-lucky people:
Meanwhile, found this photo of me and my dog Pal in front of our old house on Ashfork Avenue in Kingman.
My Dog Pal
A man brought a box of puppies into my dad's gas station and put them on the floor in the office. As I looked at the cute little mutts, my father told me to choose one. I picked up a little spotted, black-faced noodle and petted him as he snuggled into my neck. One of the pump jockeys suggested I call the dog “Pal,” because that was what he would be. I took the advice and Pal was my dog, following me on my bike everywhere up and down Ashfork Avenue.
One day, when the late-summer traffic on Route 66 was especially heavy, I was riding my bike home from the station towards our house. Where the apron for the gas station ended, there was a small bike path right along the highway that I had to travel before angling off back to the dirt roads west of the highway.
As I peddled along, Pal saw a jackrabbit and chased it as it angled out on the roadway. A car hit Pal head on and ran over him. The horrified people stopped and got out, but Pal rolled several times, jumped up and, trailing blood, ran all the way home.
My father got home before I did and we found Pal in the side yard, coughing up blood. The vet came and cleaned him up, examined his abrasions (incredibly he had no broken bones), and said he didn't think Pal would make it through the night. I worried all night. But in the morning, Pal, looking even worse than before (bloated, bruised and with one eye swollen shut), was still breathing.
Pal lived to fight another day and we had many adventures together. Unfortunately, while I was at school and my parents were working, Pal started running with a pack of neighborhood dogs and got into it with a porcupine out near Doc Arnold's house. Someone found him on the side of the road and called the number on the tags.
Again, the vet was called, and this time my father had to hold Pal with a rolled up newspaper jammed into his mouth so the vet could pull out all the quills with a pair of pliers. It took about an hour, and Pal was traumatized by the painful experience. So was I.
I remember my dad joked that, hopefully, Pal had learned a lesson. But the vet shook his head and said that not only do most dogs not learn, they go back and seek out more porcupines.
This time the vet was right. Not long after, Pal showed up briefly with his face full of quills again. But now, he wouldn't come close.
We never saw him again.
"A boy and his dog will make you weep."
—Old Vaquero Saying