I was driving down the highway in the Hill Country of Texas, and it seemed more than appropriate to be listening to George Strait singing SOMEWHERE DOWN IN TEXAS. I was on my way to see Tom and Jenny at their ranch full of dogs, and I knew that the welcome mat would be out. The last time I was there had been at Christmas, when they had just adopted the three little girls.
When I drove up to their house, I saw the girls playing out in the yard with the dogs. Normally Jenny would rush out to greet me, but for the first time this didn't happen. I felt concerned, but figured she must be busy inside. I got out and said hello to the girls, and then went inside to find Jenny in the middle of a heated conversation on the phone.
"I'm doing the best I can out here!" she shouted. "I have 40 dogs here right now, and I feed them and provide for them and do my very best to find homes for them. I really don't appreciate you saying crap like that about me, and if you're going to, how about saying it to my face instead of posting it on Facebook. And one more thing--" Jenny stopped mid-sentence, and just stared at the phone in disbelief. "I can't believe it. She hung up on me!"
"This dumb bitch named Heidi. I had someone go back on a contract I had for an adopted dog, and she posted on Facebook that I wasn't doing a good enough job and that I should go and physically check out a home before I give a dog away."
She let out a sigh. "I'm sorry, Bill, where are my manners. Welcome home." She threw her arms around me and squeezed tight. "You're a sight for sore eyes. I needed a good friend right about now."
"And you've got one. Jenny, don't listen to that stupid woman, she obviously doesn't know what she's talking about. You do so much for these dogs, you go way above and beyond. Talk about pay it forward. I seriously doubt there is anyone in the world that takes care of dogs or loves dogs as much as you."
"I don't know about all that. Come here, I want to show you something." She led me over to her computer, and turned the screen for me to see. I was horrified by the sight of a dog with a huge fish hook in its snout. "There are insane people using dogs as live bait to catch big fish."
"It's true! This
is absolutely unacceptable behavior and should be considered heinous
cruelty to animals. I can't believe we should have to tell someone this
"Can you even imagine the fear these poor animals must be in the last minutes of their lives." Tears welled up in her eyes. "No living being deserves to be treated and used this way! Dammit!" She plopped down in her chair, looking defeated. "Sometimes I feel like with all I do, I am barely making a dent."
I gently rubbed her shoulders. "Nonsense, you are wonderful. You do so much good, I can't even begin to tell you. The love you show, the sacrifices you make. Listen, I brought beer and cigarettes and some thick steaks. And a big bag of dog biscuits for the pooches. I'm going to make you dinner and cheer you up. Where's Tom?"
"He's over at the neighbor's again, that bastard is causing us trouble every single day. Running customers off, building over our property line. I think Tom may shoot him before long."
"Let's hope not," I said. She got up and led me outside so we could check on the dogs and the kids. I had to get the stuff I brought out of the car anyway.
Jenny stopped and did a head count. "We have some new dogs. That one is John Wayne, and that one over there is Mr. Tom Hanks. The little one next to him is his brother Jim Hanks."
"You like naming them after movie actors, don't you?"
"Yep." She smiled, then looked a bit worried. "Where's Charlie?"
"Charlie McCarthy, he's a newcomer, a beagle. You'll like him."
Right about then, Tom came sauntering up. "Bill-doggie!" he yelled when he saw me. "Come here, bro." He grabbed me and hugged me tight. "How's my brother from another mother?"
"Great Tom, how are you?"
"Ready for a beer."
"I brought a 12 pack."
He grinned. "One of the things I love about you the most. Hey, I was just talking to our asshole neighbor. I think he makes his goal in life to harrass us."
Jenny interrupted. "Tom, where is Charlie?"
"I think I saw him in the woods when I was headed over to talk to Mr. Asshole Watson."
"He didn't go over there, did he?" Just as Jenny completed her sentence, we heard a dog yelp and cry from distance. "That's Charlie!" she cried, and ran into the house.
"Where's she going?" I asked.
Tom shook his head, and in a flash Jenny came back out of the house carrying Tom's shotgun. She ran past us at almost superhuman speed, and we ran after her. About one minute later, we were at their property line, and Charlie was laying on the ground bleeding. Their neighbor Watson was standing over the dog with a weed wacker, and Jenny took all her momentum from running and used the shotgun like a battering ram to knock Watson on his butt. "What'd you do to my dog?"
Watson was on the ground, stunned but stubborn. "He came onto my property."
Jenny was incredulous. "He came onto your property? Oh my God!"
"I had to teach him a lesson!"
"Did you? Well I guess now I'll have to teach you one, too." She pumped the shotgun and took aim. In the blink of an eye, Tom disarmed her. He swooped in and pulled the gun out of her hands, as Watson pulled himself to his feet. Jenny was in such a fierce state of protective aggressiveness that she was caught off guard by Tom's actions. She was a force to be reckoned with. Talk about irrepressible and irascible! When Watson was on his feet again, she shook her head no and hit him like a linebacker, knocking him onto the ground once more. "You are so lucky that I have to tend to Charlie's wounds, but trust me you son of a bitch, this isn't over." She picked up Charlie gently then began to run back for the house.
Watson got to his feet again. "You need to put those dogs and that wife of yours on a leash, and--"
Tom interrupted, leaning menacingly into Watson so that their faces were just about touching. "Shut your mouth! You don't get to talk right now. I can promise you that if this happens again, my wife won't be coming over here. Because I'll be over here first and kill you myself. Keep that in mind, you dirty son of a bitch!"
I followed Tom back home, and he dealt with the little girls to distract them so they wouldn't be frightened. I went inside and did my best to assist Jenny in patching up Charlie. Seems like Watson had cut the dog with his weed wacker. When she got done, we all sat outside and had a beer.
"He's gonna be OK," Jenny told us.
"Yes, but are you OK?" I asked.
Tom chuckled. "Damn, girlfriend, you were on fire."
"There's no excuse for what he did, no one should hurt a dog," she said
I nodded. "You said earlier that someone accused you of not doing a good enough job. What a load of crap. Dogs are man's best friend, but no dog in the world could have a better friend or protector than Jenny."
"Amen," said Tom, and he took a long swig of beer.