Marian Carcache: Love all creatures

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Every dog I’ve ever had has loved my daddy, and on Father’s Day each of the dogs I have now wanted to sit closest to him.  I can’t list all the “Daddy and dogs” memories in one column, but a few highlights come to mind.

Sweet Keeper, formerly Red, had been mistreated when I wrote a check to her owners in order to save her from them.  She was especially terrified of men. I found out later that her former male owner had burned her face with a cigarette.  But her fear of men evaporated when she met Daddy.

Years after she came to live with me, she had to have surgery on her tail to remove a tumor. After that operation, the vet warned me that if she weren’t able to wag her tail by the end of that week, he would have to remove her entire tail.  For days, she walked around with a limp tail. I was dreading another surgery and the loss of her happy waggy tail. But on Saturday of that week, Mama and Daddy came to Auburn to visit. The moment Keeper laid eyes on Daddy, she wagged her tail — and I cried joyful tears.

Daddy also was the one who managed to catch Little Star, the weakest – but wildest -of three starving puppies my family rescued from the woods behind my parents’ house in Jernigan. My son caught Big Star and Frances and brought them to Auburn, but the tiny runt, covered with mange, kept eluding us … until Daddy lured her onto the patio with a can of jack mackerel, and then grabbed her. That moment started the most magical decade and a half of my life with those three puppies from the woods that won my heart.

When well-loved novelist Ace Atkins (who happens to be a favorite student from my years of teaching literature at Auburn) shared a post asking fellow dog lovers to support an animal rescue organization started by James Garner’s daughter to honor her father, he brightened my week immensely.

Mahatma Gandhi is credited with saying that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by how it treats animals. I raised my son to love all creatures, and I believe that kind men — those like Daddy and Ace Atkins and Willie Nelson, James Garner, Paul Newman, Jon Stewart, John Legend, and Kinky Friedman, and all others who have hearts for the most defenseless among us — are the best men and the real heroes, at least in my universe. If you know one, thank him and give him a hug.

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