It was the last week of December
1998. I flew from Tennessee to Texas, at the behest of my friend,
Kinky Friedman, to interview approximately sixty dogs, all of
whom were residents of The Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. My mission,
according to Kinky, was to find out if one of them might be my
potential new best friend.
After nearly two hours of wandering around the pens and meeting
all the canines, I narrowed it down to two. A black lab-mix named
"Gus," and a little Cairn Terrier-mix named, "Peanut."
It was a tough decision. I wanted both of them, but I had limited
space and a small yard in Nashville, so I chose the 22 lb. Peanut
over the 60 lb. Gus.
On January 23, 1999, American Airlines flew Peanut to Nashville.
When I picked her up at the airport, she flew into my arms, ears
flapping... my soulmate had landed. She was about a year and
half old, and terminally cute. She acclimated herself to my apartment,
car, and neighborhood with ease. Like Minnie Pearl, she was,"just
so happy to be here!"
About a month after her arrival, Peanut and I walked down to
the local ATM machine to get some fast cash. It was a Saturday
night, it was after dark, and yes, I know it was a stupid thing
to do. I live in the Music Row area of Nashville. On the weekends,
most of the buildings empty out, their music biz tenants fleeing
to the suburbs. The only ones left walking the Row at night are
a few unemployed songwriters and a bunch of deliriously insane
derelicts, who are often mistaken for unemployed songwriters,
and me and Peanut.
I put my card into the ATM machine, but the machine didn't give
me any money, and it ate my card. I hate when that happens. Highly
agitated, I stuck my hand back into my empty pocket and suggested
to Peanut that we go home and order a pizza with our credit card.
We headed back to my apartment by way of the Vanderbilt University
campus. It was raining so I had my umbrella in my right hand
and Peanut on the leash in my left.
When we reached the campus area, I let Peanut off the leash so
she could run for awhile. Just as I let her go, a man wearing
a hooded sweatshirt, sweat pants, white socks, and surfer sandals
came from out of nowhere and grabbed my left arm. It hurt my
arm, it scared me, and it pissed me off. "What'd ya got
in your pocket?!" he demanded. I struggled to loosen his
grip and get my left hand free so I could grab hold of the coach's
whistle I was wearing around my neck. My Grandma Myrtle gave
it to me years ago, it had an eardrum shattering blast and I
hoped it would send the nearest cop running to my rescue. But
there weren't any cops around that night.
I began flailing my assailant with my umbrella, beating him over
his hooded head while still trying to free my left hand. Suddenly,
Peanut came charging up. Courageously, she sunk her little teeth
into the fleshy part of the perpetrator's sandaled foot, causing
him enough pain and distraction to let go of my left arm. I grabbed
Grandma Myrtle's whistle and started blowing my brains out. It
must have been quite a picture. Me, beating the guy over the
head with an umbrella and blowing that whistle in his face, and
all the while Peanut barking her little brindle colored head
Fortunately, the guy never brandished a weapon. In what appeared
to be utter frustration, he ran off into the night leaving me
and Peanut standing there, shaken but victorious.
I cannot explain to you why a little dog that had lived with
me barely a month had the instinct to know I was in danger and
the fortitude to come to my rescue. What I can tell you is this...before
you consider buying an expensive "purebred" dog, give
serious consideration to adopting a Rescue Ranch dog. Their gratitude
will come back to you in spades...make that, aces.