My First Love ( a rough draft)

My First Love ( a rough draft)

A Story by Jonathan Bryant Dean

A boy and his Dog, what greater first love can there be than the eternal feelings of comraderie between a boy and his first dog!



I remember my first love, it was a Black Labrador puppy that we named Buccaneer, after the local football team where we lived, near Tampa, Florida. At that time, “Tropical Acres” was a loose collection of lots with trailers on them, and the term “Tropical” is about as accurate as the term “Waterfront property” when it is used to describe a stagnant retention pond filled with mosquito larvae and Cuban tree frogs. Back then there was also the occasional water moccasin in a stream or rattlesnake in the saw palmetto strewn sandy marshes.
I was about seven years old in the early months of 1980. My dad worked at an egg laying facility owned by Cargil farms. When we were planning the move to Florida, my dad told us that he was going to be working in an Egg Plant. In my youthful mind this evoked thoughts of a large purple vegetable with a green stem, which was quite ridiculous, but I believed what my father told me.
 I should also mention that my imagination was very active as a youngster. Five years earlier my brother Ron was born at our home in Silverton, Ohio.  When I was told later that my father had delivered my brother Ronnie; I pictured Dad wearing a brown uniform, driving a brown truck, like the UPS man. Later, my image changed to a Pale blue shirt, navy trousers and an American Eagle Patch, when I learned that my father actually did work for the U.S. Postal Service when he was a young man. Let’s just say that these images predated the “birds & bees” lessons which I learned a bit later.
To get back to the story of my dog Buck, I will say that I remember my dad coming home with a cardboard box. In the box was a mangy little flea bitten dog, which looked as though it were the runt of any litter. It was a dog that my father had found at the “Egg Plant,” and decided to bring home to raise.
I remember a little about how I helped dad shave Buck down, and applied oil to the mange to help promote a healthy growth of new hair. It seems like just a few days now, but it was longer, that Buck grew from a little runt dog, into a fine handsome Black Labrador. Dad called him our two dollar dog. A “BUCK AN EAR.” A bad pun, but it stuck in my memory.
Buck is the first dog I remember falling in love with as a child. I know that when I was a baby we lived in Dewberry Indiana, and we had another dog, but I was too young, so that was my Dad’s dog, not mine.  
There is something to be said for the relationship between a boy and his dog. It is the plot to many a tale of youth. From Lassie on to Sounder and Ol’ Yeller, the story is often a happy one. It is a fact of life, however, that in most cases, the boy will out live the puppy of his youth. This is the story of my coming of age, which was allowed to happen at an accelerated pace.
You see, Buck had a few bad habits. He loved to put his nose in where it had no business, and to this day I wonder if he influenced me, or if it was the other way around. I too have always been a curious sort, and have been stung a few times by a bee that turned out to be a wasp!   
Buck was a Labrador mix dog, all black with one spot of white on his chest.  Labs are a bird dog that loves the water; both are not great traits to have in the swamps of Florida, where, in the time that we lived there, people still raised ducks and chickens, geese and guinea fowl. In 1980, there were still many fine people raising farm animals to supplement a diet of turtles, gator and the occasional unsuspecting wild hare that might cross their path. Some call these folks “crackers” or “rednecks”, but I called them neighbors, and they called Buck a loveable pest.
You see, young Buck had a particular habit of loving birds. By that I do not mean an affinity, or affection; I mean a taste for the blood, flesh, feathers and bones of the country parrot, also known as my father’s prize Banty hens and roosters, as well as any ducks, geese or any other fowl that he could get a hold on. Dad tried a few ways of protecting our own chickens, by building a stronger hen house.  
Dad also rigged a strong cable and pulley run between two posts, so that Buck could run on the back property, but not get loose in the neighborhood. This improvised dog run went for about 100 feet, and ended at an old playhouse my dad had build for us, now it was Buck’s dog house.
This worked pretty well once dad had the poles set and the pulley system in place and attached to the lead cables. But the story begins with Bucks “pre-cable” days. Buck came home after one night out with a .22 bullet hole in his hide. It turns out that he had been out to Mr. Jim Smith’s place chasing ducks, and Jim had shot buck to run him off. This was a sad, but understandable consequence to Bucks predilection for the foul flesh of fowl. The bullet had gone clean through, with no major damage to any internal organs of importance. Buck survived that dance with the bitter end of the business end of a gun.
It was a month or so later when Buck got run over by a Carr. I did not spell that incorrectly, since he was actually run over by a Carr driving a truck. Our Neighbor, the father of my first crush, Wanza Carr, said it was an accident that happened as he was backing out of his driveway. Myself, knowing how fast buck can be, I feel that he aimed for Buck, since he hit him first, then pulled forward and hit him again.
I am not sure why my Crush-in-law, was intent on indenting my dog, but he sure did a fine job of it. Buck pulled through just fine that time too. We never even took him to the vet. My father had a theory, it could go one of two ways; Buck would live, or Buck would die. Since we could not afford a vet, I helped clean and bandage Buck, and he recovered just fine in a few weeks. Just in time to get another blast from Jim Millers gun.
This time he was shot in the side with a light load of bird-shot. The blast was not as serious as many of the other injuries; it was mean to scare Buck off more than anything. If you are not familiar with a shot gun, I will share one fact; the pellets travel in what is called a spread. The farther away the object is, the wider the spread of pellets, and the less damage that is done. Old Jim had not even been really trying to kill buck, just set a few pellets in his behind to chase him on home. You see, Buck was starting to get a reputation of being indestructible.  Buck became a real immortal beloved, at least in my eyes.
I also remember my first prayer as a child. It was over Buck. If you remember, I told of how Buck liked to stick his nose where it did not belong. Well, one morning I went out to feed Buck, and he was not waiting for me. I followed the cable to his home in the play-house, where I found my wounded dog still fastened to the cable line.
I found Buck whimpering on his side. His face was unrecognizable. His eyes were swollen shut and his nose was swollen to the point that he almost could not breath. I figure that he knew it was me at the sound of my voice, because he let me touch him, and I tried to hug him, but it hurt him so much that it scared me to hear him cry out in pain.
I ran into the house and got my father. Dad came out to help, and we used alcohol to clean Buck’s wounded face. It looked as though Buck may have been bitten by a snake, so dad also made sure that the snake was not still near-by, since he did not want me to get bit while looking out for my best friend.
I remember that this was my first real close call in terms of the death of a loved one. My dad explained a little about the circle of life and death and the universal principals of finite minds as opposed to infinite possibilities. You see, my father never spoke down to us as children. If he said something which I did not understand, it was my job to ask for an explanation. Dad also explained that we could not afford a veterinarian, so we had done all that we could do for Buck.
I was young, and my faith was strong. I believed that if I were to pray to God, he would save Buck. I stayed there with him until my dad made me come in for the night. Buck was wrapped in a blanket, and I thing that dad was trying to keep me away from Buck, so that, if necessary, the poor dog could die in peace. That was a good intention on the part of my dad, but as soon as I knew that everyone was asleep, I snuck out and held Buck and prayed till I cried myself to sleep.
The next morning, I could see that the swelling in Buck’s nose was starting to go down. He even drank some water! It was a slow process over the next several days, but Buck lived up to his reputation for immortality. He survived yet another brush with death.
 It is amazing to some, when I tell them that I learned about the infinite theory of the universe, and of life and death as well as eternal principals; all before I learned about the ways of procreation.
It was just about six months after Buck recovered from his snake bite, when my parents, who held my destiny, decided that we were going to move the family farm in Dry Holler, Kentucky. This sounded like a great adventure. Just imagine all of the fun exploring that a boy and his dog could do on 160 acres of hills, where a dog could run free of any cable or chain!
We were no at all rich, so the travel arrangements were Spartan to put it lightly. My Mom, my brother Ron and the baby Sarah were to fly to Kentucky after a place was settled. This was a necessity, since Sarah was a newborn, and Ronnie had severe asthma, and a drive would be pretty hard on his health. My Dad, my brother Jesse and I would drive. We loaded up an old Dodge truck with a Utility bed and a tin roof rigged up almost like the Beverly Hillbilly’s, and we were all set to head off for the foot hills of Appalachia.
This arrangement seemed fine to me, until I asked my dad where we were going to put Buck. As good as the move ot the family farm sounded, there was a cost that would seem too great for me to withstand. My Dad told me that we did not have room in the truck for Buck, and that we could not afford a plane ticket. He told me that we would need to take Buck to the Dog Shelter, since he had not been able to find a home for Buck anywhere, and it was down to the last day before we had to leave. I did not go in when they dropped Buck off at the shelter. It was done without my knowledge of what day it had happened. I remember that it was a harsh reality to learn that the dog that could survive being shot, run over by cars and bitten by snakes would now be lost because of a matter of seating logistics and geography.
We only had Buck for a year and a half or so, but he packed a lot of living and dying into that time. Thankfully he was able to recover, and though it is now 29 years later, and I am sure he is now long dead, I like to hope that he was able to find another family with whom he lived out his days. If the rest of his life was only a fraction of the excitement he experiences in the 18 months we knew him, I know he led an awesome life.
Since I never witnessed his death, it is not probable, but it may be possible that old Buck is still alive! He survived more brushes with death in the first two years of his life, than ten normal dogs would survive even once.
So now, when ever I see a dog in a shelter, I think of Buck, and the time that I did not have with him. I am now a foster parent to at least one dog at all times, and sometimes two. My wife and I have also adopted two dogs of our very own: Lucy, a beagle that is attached to my wife and Domino Joe, my best friend, who has proven his love many times over.
So I would like to say that if my story about out two Dollar dog is good for anything in this world, I hope that it encourages at least one person to adopt one of the wonderful dogs that awaits you at a no-kill shelter near you.

© 2009 Jonathan Bryant Dean

Author's Note

Jonathan Bryant Dean
please feel free to point out grammar and spelling issues, I know this is still a work in progress, but I am not afraid of good criticism.

My Review

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It is a very good rough draft

Posted 5 Years Ago

As the human to a american pitbull, I want to tell you how much I enjoyed this story. The words just ran smoothly, and the imagery was pretty clear. Thank you for sharing this.

Posted 7 Years Ago

quite a story! what an a amazing dog. this piece could certainly be expanded and would probably benefit from it. so much happened in such a brief telling that it felt a little rushed. nice job of holding my attention though.

"We were no at all rich"......... consider cutting this since it had been said several times before.

"since I never witnessed his death, it is not probable, but it may be possible that old Buck is still alive!...." ........ hmm, maybe cut this part since at this point the narrator is an adult.

"So I would like to say that if my story about out two Dollar dog"......... consider cutting parts where you tell the reader what you would like to say, rather just start with "if my story about . . . "

good job. enjoyed it,

Posted 10 Years Ago

A great story about Buck. It reminds me of my first dog, Nellie. I believe even if you say you are a work in progress, Jonboy, you do a special story, just like your Dad. I am inspired by my daughter. She has been writing since grade school. Keep on writing! Thanks to you and your wife for adoping.

Posted 10 Years Ago

You have an excellent way with the ongoings of day to day life at the farm and your relation to Buck. I never had a dog, but I did have a cat named Mugsy. A huge calico that was in countless fights. I was about twelve when he finally passed away. I was instantly drawn in to the story.

I really like your delivery. I normally only read Sci-fi. Your style reminds me of Mark Twain. It has this easy going feeling that rolls right in and keeps you there in the moment. I was ready to read the next chapter, that does not come easy for me. And thank you for having paragraphs and spacing. I could read at a medium pace like my books on paper.
I could see this as a great opening for a much larger novel. Well done.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Wonderful. Just that. Very good recounting. Got some misspellings, some words with letters left off, but the story is sound and very good. Believe me, I don't give compliments unless they're deserved.

Posted 10 Years Ago

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6 Reviews
Added on September 27, 2009
Last Updated on October 1, 2009


Jonathan Bryant Dean
Jonathan Bryant Dean

Middletown, OH

Jonboy may make you mad, but at least he has made you think. "If you get mad, that means that you have an opinion, if you have an opinion, at least you have some conscious thought."--JonBoy There on.. more..